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

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




Tag Archive: dslr

  1. Canon T6s DSLR Camera

    canon_0020c001_eos_rebel_t6s_dslr_1116103

    The Canon T6s is Canon’s top tier Rebel DSLR. It features a 24.2 MP APS-C sized sensor with expanded ISO to 25600. Made for both photo and video, the camera shoots 1080p30, 1080p24, and 720p60. The T6s is an upgrade over the T6i, adding a top display, control dial, and horizon level. The Canon T6s also supports WiFi connection.

    Our Canon T6s rental comes with a charger, 2 batteries, and a 64GB SD card.  This camera accepts EF and EF-S lenses.  If you’re not sure where to start, we think the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens is a good choice for most shooters.

    We suggest reserving your DSLR rental early, since they tend to rent out quickly.

    Rental Prices

    $59 for 1 day
    $118 for up to 3 days
    $177 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
    Suggested accessories:
    Lenses, Tripod, Sound kit
  2. Canon 5D mark III DSLR Camera

    rent-5dmkiii-milwaukee

    The Canon 5D mark III is the only DSLR that supports uncompressed 14-bit raw video recording in 1080p24, through the use of Magic Lantern.  It also offers uncompressed 4:2:2 output over HDMI.  For video shooters using DSLRs, the 5D mk III builds on the legacy of the 5D mk II, with an updated sensor for reduced moire and improved low-light performance, timecode support, and a headphone jack.  This Canon DSLR also records .mov files in IPB or all-I compression.  Oh yeah, it’s a pretty awesome stills camera, too, with some of the most advanced autofocus features available in any camera today.

    This camera accepts EF lenses, not included.  We include three batteries, a charger, and 64GB of Compact Flash storage, and will install Magic Lantern for free by request.

    Rental Prices

    $129 for 1 day
    $258 for up to 3 days
    $387 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
  3. Canon T3i Budget Filmmaker Kit

    canon-600d-t3i

    Need a full DSLR kit on a budget? Our Canon T3i Budget Filmmaker Kit includes: A Canon T3i camera, 64GB of storage, a battery grip, four batteries, a Sigma 24-60mm f/2.8 lens or 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, Canon’s 55-250mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens, Canon’s 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, and your choice of video tripod or shoulder mount.

    We believe that everyone should have access to the tools to make great video.  This kit is our most popular kit with weekend filmmakers, whether they are shooting 48 hour film projects or music videos.  Like many video DSLRs, it’s great for anything with short takes (under 12 minutes).  If your project needs audio, you’ll want to rent a field sound recording kit.

    Rental Prices

    $100 for 1 day
    $200 for up to 3 days
    $300 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:
    Additional Lenses
    Budget Sound Kit

  4. GH4 Video: Tips and Tricks

    The Panasonic GH4 is an awesome addition to nearly any video shooter’s bag, especially for those of us who have gotten used to DSLRs like the Canon 5D mark III and 7D.  I’ve had a chance to take the GH4 out on a few shoots so far, and have some tips and tricks for getting great results in your video.

    panasonic-gh4-camera-rental1. Get to know your shooting modes, and assign them to a custom button.  There are HD modes, two 4K modes, an over/undercranking mode, and a crop mode/digital zoom feature.  You don’t want to have to dig through menus to change from one to the next.  I find myself switching between QHDp24 and 1080p variable a lot.  If you’re only using the camera for video, you should assign all your custom buttons to useful video settings, like zebras and peaking, for example.

    2. If you’re mixing and matching cameras on a multi-camera shoot, use the cropped sensor to your advantage.  The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L paired with the 2.3x crop of this camera makes for an incredible close up for live events.  I even tried it with the 1.4x teleconverter and still felt like sharpness in 4K was acceptable at f/4.  There’s no easy way to get IS working, yet [Metabones now has an EF to MFT adapter that supports image stabilization!] but with a solid tripod, you’ll get shots you used to need a 500mm lens for.

    3. Use that ISO!  The GH4 native ISO is 800 according to Panasonic. It’s definitely the best option when shooting V-log. I think a native ISO of 400-640 would be more appropriate for 4K in the other picture settings. For a 1080p delivery I would be comfortable shooting almost everything pushed to 3200, as long as the footage was run through a denoiser. Video caps out at 6400 ISO, which looks significantly cleaner downsampled to 1080p than the Canon 5D mark III at 3200.  Don’t forget to update to the latest firmware to take advantage of intermediate ISO settings, like 640. You’ll want a crazy fast lens or a speedbooster to make this the right camera for nighttime documentaries, bar and club shoots, etc.  If you’re not used to shooting native ISO at 800, remember to bring an ND filter set with you pretty much everywhere.

    4. Stay in 4K whenever you can.  If you don’t need the higher frame rate, you’ll get a significantly better-looking final product than shooting at 1080p.  Downsampling to 1080p in your editor is definitely the way to go.  The other exception to this would be for rolling shutter. Pro tip: if you shoot at 96 FPS, 1/100 shutter in 1080p, and play back your footage at 4x speed in 23.976, rolling shutter is significantly reduced.  You do give up a stop of light and the ability to record sound, though.

    5. Sound is still a pain in the ears.  If you only buy or rent one add-on for the GH4, consider a Rode VideoMic Pro. In my non-scientific testing, the preamps for the GH4 sounded pretty good vs. the 5D mark III, but it’s still nothing amazing. The lowest gain setting on the GH4 is much higher than Canon DSLRs, so you might not use the +20dB setting as much as you’re used to. If you’re using the GH4 in a studio setting and need audio, it’s probably easier to use the YAGH extension unit and record directly into camera, instead of using second system sound.

    6. Focusing isn’t 2.4 times easier vs. a fullframe camera.  You’ll still want a follow focus, and geared lenses, when possible.  Yes, focusing at a specific f-stop is a bit easier, but I found myself shooting wider to better match the “film look” we’ve gotten used to from other cameras.  Plus, 4K is even less forgiving than 1080p.  I spent a lot of time between f/2 and 2.8, which seems like a reasonable aperture for the GH4.

    7. Cinelike-D.  For people who have been shooting on Panasonic, you’ve known about the Cine-D profile for a long time.  It’s really the only picture profile I use for video.  I keep the blacks pushed up slightly (+2) most of the time, except when I’m in murky or overcast lighting.

    Closing thoughts

    As cinematographers, we used to have to carefully choose which camera we bought, and screentest different models to decide which one would best suit our film’s look.  As the bodies continue to get more affordable and portable, we gain the option of keeping more than one in the kit at a time.  I can still see an advantage to keeping a 5D mark III in your bag (far superior stills, and so far no MFT glass equivalent to  the options in the 16-24mm range).  The a7S is a naturally well-paired camera with the GH4 as well, giving you unreal latitude and low light performance.  The GH4’s killer feature, to me, is good-looking 4K in a camera body that’s only a little over a pound.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  5. Canon T3i DSLR Camera

    canon-600d-t3iSuggested accessories:
    Lenses, HDMI Monitor, Tripod, Sound kit

    The Canon T3i has a lot in common with the slightly older T2i, including gorgeous HD video in 1080p and 720p.  The T3i adds an articulating screen for easy viewing and an improved heat sink, for significantly better performance when live view/video mode is running for more than a few minutes.

    If you’re shooting extended shots, or working at higher ISOs, the T3i is worth the upgrade.  The audio controls are also improved.

    We send the Canon T3i out with a battery grip, charger, 4 batteries, and a 64GB SD card.  Just bring your own lens or rent one of ours.  This camera accepts EF and EF-S lenses.

    Rental Prices

    $43 for 1 day
    $86 for up to 3 days
    $129 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
  6. Canon 5D mark III Event Photographer Package

    rent-5dmkiii-milwaukee

    The Canon 5D mark III is built on Canon’s 22.3MP sensor and DIGIC 5+ processor.  It’s the perfect 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

     

  7. More Tips for Shooting Video on Canon DSLRs

    shooting-video-6dOur post on shooting video for the Canon 6D generated a lot of conversation and questions, so I wanted to follow up and go into some greater detail.  Now that the Canon 6D is a year old, I think we all have a better understanding of how it fits in the Canon full-frame DSLR lineup, relative to the 5D mark II and 5D mark III.  I know this post is epically long… but I’ve learned a lot.  Feel free to skip to the relevant parts for you!

    Lately, when I’ve had the choice of either a Canon 5DmkII or a Canon 6D to take on a video-only shoot, I’ve been taking the 5DmkII.  Yes, even though the camera is more than twice as old as the 6D, it is simply easier to use for video.  The 6D does have some advantages, namely better low-light performance, much improved low-light focusing for photos, wifi and GPS.  While those things are great if you’re using the camera for stills, or want to be able to share pictures on the fly, they don’t get used much by video shooters.  Of course, now that so many video shooters have realized they want a 5D-series camera over the 6D, the 6D camera price has dropped considerably and used 5DmkIIs are selling for oddly high prices.  So the value equation keeps shifting.  If you’re buying a camera for photo and video, I think you’ll get the best value sticking with the 6D.  If you’re just a video shooter and you can find a 5DmkII for under $1800, that’s probably the way to go, especially if you want to experiment with the raw video hack in Magic Lantern.

    Magic Lantern is still in beta for the 6D.  It will crash from time to time.  It is, however, better than not shooting with ML.  Unless your camera crashes at that critical moment.  That’s the excitement of event work, right?

    Without Magic Lantern, the 6D is really just a still photography camera.  ML is still in development for the 6D, but you can use the dev kit to install an early alpha version and at least get basic exposure and focus assist features.  This is a huge help when shooting video.

    I had my first really bad experience with moire after my last blog post on the 6D.  It was bad, really bad, terrible moire.  I interviewed a lawyer and his jacket just went nuts.  It wasn’t a patterned jacket, but the fibers in it must have been the perfect size to cause trouble.  I didn’t notice it in the display, of course, but I probably spent three hours in After Effects filtering, blurring, and mapping something, and then digitally zooming and cropping to make the area less noticeable.  It was chroma, it was luma, and it’s some of the worst I’ve ever seen.  After the fix, the client never said anything, but I’m super nervous about it now.  The 5DmkIII’s 3×3 pixel binning really solved this problem, and hopefully the 6D is the last full-frame camera Canon makes that uses line-skipping for video.

    Since my bad moire experience, I’ve been shooting 6D interviews and “brick wall” type shoots with a Tiffen HDFX 1 filter, and I haven’t noticed a problem.  I tried one of the in-camera OLPFs  (optical low-pass filters) but it makes me nervous popping one in and out of the camera body like that, and it only works on medium to long lenses.

    6D-rig

    We offer a cinema kit for each of our full-frame cameras

    The big question I get about DSLR shooting (whether it’s the 6D, 5Dmk3, or a crop-factor camera) is “what accessories are worth it?”  Of course, the answer depends on what you’re shooting, if you have an assistant, and your own personal style.  I tend to take my cameras out in one of three basic configurations.

    Suggested Configuration #1: Cinema Style

    If you’re shooting something narrative, and you have an assistant camera person, you can really dress the camera just like you would a Red Epic or Arri Alexa.  I suggest a cage, rails, mattebox with filter trays, followfocus with whip, monitor (ideally HDMI in and SDI out), and a nice set of NDs, ND grads, and a polarizer.  Put it on a heavy duty tripod and head, get a shoulder mount and handle for the cage, and add your choice of lenses with focus gears, and you can take it pretty much anywhere.

    Now, if you’ve done that, you’ve eliminated most of the advantages of shooting with a DSLR in the first place.  You’ll need an AC for changes, shoulder-mounting gets heavy, and moving quickly is almost impossible.  You do get beautiful fullframe video on a budget, and you get to make the camera look pretty respectable.  It’s still a DSLR, though, so you should either have great control over your lighting or be shooting with the 5DmkIII’s raw hack.  Spending an extra $80 for a light kit rental will do a lot more for your image than covering your camera with hardware.

    Audio for this kit is second-system only.  Slate is optional, depending on your post-production style.  The terrible in-camera audio should be enough to get sync with a program like PluralEyes, even without a slate.

    Usually, the lenses for this kit are primes.  If I were going to pick three, I’d take our 28mm f/1.8, the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T*, and the Rokinon 85mm T/1.5.  Adding something on the wide end, like our 20mm f/1.8, and something with a bit of reach, like the 105mm f/1.8, fills out a prime kit nicely.  If shooters add zooms, they usually start with the 70-200 f/2.8L IS or the 24-105mm f/4L IS.  The IS is great for shoulder-mounted shots.

    Suggested Configuration #2: Run and Gun

    DSLRs offer a key advantage over cinema cameras like the Red Epic and ENG-style cameras like the Sony PXW-Z100.  They are tiny.  You don’t need a massive Sachtler head and sticks, or huge counterweights on your jib arm.  They are so light, I’ve actually taped them to things when I needed to get the shot.  If you’re shooting doc style, your kit should be three things: small, steady, and easy-to-use.

    A shoulder rig is very important, since you often won’t have time to set up your tripod shots.  I built a frankenrig out of two different shoulder rigs from one of those nobody brands on Amazon.  I found a way to combine the rear counterbalance weights, my preferred handles, 15mm rails, and my preferred 1/4″ mount all into one rig.  I suggest not going with a full cage, since that just adds bulk and takes up your hot shoe.  I added a few mounting blocks to the long 15mm rail so I have a place to mount a monitor arm or sound recorder.  I have seen people try to mount their wireless microphone receivers onto their shoulder rig.  This is just silly!  Get a shoulder bag and put your audio recorder in it, and run your wireless receivers up the shoulder strap.  Trying to balance the extra weight above your eye level all night is exhausting.  The only audio gear I put on my shoulder rig is a videomic pro in the hot shoe.

    Get a lightweight tripod.  Manfrotto’s carbon fiber legs are pretty affordable, and combining it with a 701-size fluid head should be good for most shoots.  Sometimes, I end up mounting the baseplate on the bottom of the shoulder rig, so I don’t have to deal with screwing and unscrewing plates all night.  Sometimes I put a manfrotto-compatible base on the shoulder rig’s camera plate, but this messes up the height of the rails, so I need a rails offset if I want to use a followfocus.  I shot for years without a follow focus, but I get MUCH better results with one.  I use the D Focus v4, although FFs are a very personal choice, and you should experiment with a few to know what you like before you buy one.

    Since your run-and-gun kit can’t include a matte box, you’d better have some screw-in filters.  If you only get one, make it a 4-stop ND or variable ND.  Your second filter should be a polarizer.  If you can get a ND kit, great, but remember you need to drag it around with you and stop to change filters as needed.

    The first lenses I take out with this kit are usually zooms with IS.  Since I usually can’t set up shots, it’s nice to be able to make focal length adjustments without changing lenses.  I consider image stabilization basically mandatory for DSLR video shots handheld at longer than 50mm.  I usually shoot with the 24-105mm f/4L IS, but some shooters I know sacrifice the telephoto end for an extra stop of light with the 24-70mm f/2.8L IS.  I prefer to have lenses for handheld and lenses for dark places, rather than the f/2.8 compromise on an IS zoom lens.

    If you’re shooting with more than one shooter, a lot of this lens advice can go out the window, since you can mix and match a few different lenses on each body and get a really full set of options and coverage.  If you’re shooting in cramped spaces, forgo the stabilization and take something fast and wide.  If I were shooting in a car, for example, I’d probably take a Sigma 20mm f/1.8 and the 50mm Zeiss Planar T* f/1.4. A 35mm f/1.4 Rokinon would be a great option for night vehicle interiors.

    Raw video at this level of production is silly.  Just expose well, shoot flat, and get it right.  Trying to handle a terabyte of data from a single shoot day doesn’t make sense without an AC and DIT.

    A lot of videographers spend their whole lens budget on a “do-everything” lens like the 24-70mm f/2.8 IS.  I think this is a mistake.  You can shoot almost anything on that lens all day long, yes, and you’ll get a solid B+ in the image category.  But you’ll get much better results from choosing a lens that fits your specific needs for a particular shoot.  24mm is wide, but it’s not iconic like a 20mm.  70mm is okay for portraits, but you’ll wish you had more reach. f/2.8 isn’t slow, but indoors, you’ll still be wishing you had more.  For the price of that one lens, you can get a kit of photo primes plus the 24-105mm f/4L.  Unless you simply can’t bring the extra lenses with you, the 24-70 is the jack-of-all-trades lens that can make you complacent.

    Suggested Configuration #3: Guerrilla Filmmaking

    You can’t take a matte box outside of the TMZ without getting some stares.  People are fascinated and intimidated by the moviemaking process, and usually, this makes it harder.  There are some places where getting permission is impossible, but almost no one will stop the tourist with a camera.  Want your documentary crew to follow your subject on Amtrak or an airplane? Good luck!  If you’re shooting in a foreign country, you may be expected to pay “fees” (bribes) to get your gear through customs or security checkpoints, and shiny new equipment tends to disappear when you’re not looking.  The less intimidating your equipment looks, the better.

    If what you need is the smallest possible camera you can intercut easily with a full-frame DSLR, Canon’s new SL1 (100D) is the hands-down best choice.  The 1.6 crop factor is a small tradeoff for the teenie-weenie camera body.  With a 40mm pancake on it, it could be mistaken for a point-and-shoot.  Everyone will assume you’re a camera-happy tourist. Put some dirty gaff tape and an old strap on it, and you’ll look like you’re shooting on a Rebel from 2001.  This only works if you put it in a junky bag and don’t wear anything flashy.

    If you’re somewhere where someone really doesn’t want you to be, consider a camera with dual media.  You may be able to hand over the SD card in your 5DmkIII, and still walk out the door with the CF card.  In the “old” days of tape, shooters using the HVX200 would turn over their DV tapes to authorities, even though the camera was recording to P2 media.  I’ve been asked by an armed US soldier to turn over my media before, and it’s a scary feeling.  It takes some real guts to lie to a guy holding an automatic weapon.

    If you need the full-frame (and I’m pretty sure you don’t, but that’s a discussion for another post!), the 6D is a relatively small camera.  Without a battery grip, and with a few small lenses, you’ll probably be able to shoot on public transportation, at events, etc. without drawing a crowd or raising suspicion.   Since you’ll want to skip the shoulder mount, though, make sure your lenses are either really wide or IS, and run sound from a wireless lav to a recorder so you don’t have to keep it visible.  Sound gear is a lot easier to hide, and usually sound is the most important part of doc-style shooting.  Zoom H1s go anywhere, fit in pockets, and can connect to wireless lavs like the Sennheiser G3.

    Camera support tends to become a very personal decision at this point.  I like to bring a gorillapod, since it’s versatile but not big.  Bringing a “real” tripod will always get some attention, but you may decide it’s worth the trade-off.  Manfrotto makes a few super-portable photo tripods that can fit in a backpack.  A shoulder rig can be tough to travel with, and usually gets some stares, too.

    Lens-wise, the 40mm f/2.8 pancake is about as small as lenses get.  The plastic 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 is less intimidating than any L-series lens, and has a lot of versatility (and image stabilization).  If you want a second prime, I’d suggest either going for the 85mm f/1.8 if you’re shooting on a full-frame camera, or pairing Canon’s 28mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4 on a crop factor camera.  Some of your choice of lenses will depend on the time of day, the style of the piece, and your personal tastes.  Definitely try a few lenses out before committing them to a long trip.

    What have you learned in the year that the 6D and 5DmkIII have been available?  Share your experiences in the comments!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  8. Tips for Shooting Video on the Canon 6D

    Jon wrote a follow-up to this post in November 2013.

    I first started shooting DSLR video in 2010.  Having such incredible cameras at a low price point has changed the way we work.  The democratization of filmmaking is underway, and the Canon 6D is a milestone on that path.   The key to standing out isn’t spending $40,000 on a camera, it’s taking the time to know your camera and equipment and get the best results.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far while shooting with the Canon 6D.

    Use a monitor.  The 6D supports higher resolution output while recording than the 5DmkII, so you can actually focus while shooting.  You also don’t have the glitch in HDMI signal between standby and recording.  If you’ve been using a 480p monitor, it’s time to upgrade.

    Without Magic Lantern, the 6D is really just a still photography camera.  ML is still in development for the 6D, but you can use the dev kit to install an early alpha version and at least get basic exposure and focus assist features.  This is a huge help when shooting video.

    6D-rig

    We prefer our 6D all dressed up in a cage and mattebox

    You have a new, extended clip-length limit of 29:29.  This makes using the camera for sit-down interviews and events a bit easier.  It’s also quite likely that Magic Lantern will be able to eliminate the clip length entirely, now that Canon firmware has removed all the other obstacles to longer shot lengths.

    Moire is not as bad as everybody says it is.  I spent half a day running around the office trying to create it and I can’t.  I’ve seen some sample shots online, but nothing that 30 seconds in After Effects couldn’t improve.  It’s no reason to ignore a great camera.  Just like rolling shutter and compression artifacts, it’s something that your audience should never be paying attention to, as long as you’re telling a good story.  If you’re really worried about it, try one of the optical low-pass filters, which seem to do the trick as long as you’re not on a wide lens.  And remember that a few years ago, professionals were still shooting 480i to tape.  Trust me, if your picture sucks, it’s not the camera’s fault.

    Don’t be afraid of the dark.  Compared with a crop-factor camera, the 6D has 2-3 stops more room to work with.  The T2i/T3i/T4i tends to get “fuzzy,” especially in the blacks, at 800ISO and beyond. I would say the 6D at 3200ISO looks cleaner than the T2i at 800ISO.  The difference is so big, I usually don’t take crop factor cameras out of my bag indoors anymore.  If you’re also shooting photos, the 6D is a great indoors camera.  While the action-focusing doesn’t keep up with the Canon 5DmkII or III or the 7D, the low-light focusing performance on the center point is unmatched in any DSLR I’ve ever shot with.

    Use All-I compression modes.  The camera supports IPB compression, but why would you intentionally reduce the quality of your video?  The real bottleneck for DSLR filmmakers has always been the data rate.  Canon gave us an incremental improvement with the All-I option.  Just make sure you have a fast enough memory card to handle the extra data.  We recommend the Sandisk Extreme Pro series.  Since Magic Lantern unlocks even more data rate options, you’ll be glad you spent a little extra for the higher-speed card.

    Give it some glass!  If you wanted performance like this ten years ago, you would have spent, literally, $250,000 or more on the camera body.  Why would you shoot through a $99 lens?  The 24-105mm is the logical walking-around lens, since the IS will help on the shoulder mount.  But you can get 2+ more stops of light out of a prime kit.  Take a prime lens kit out for a shoot at night and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  The limiting factor on almost every shoot in 2013 isn’t the camera, it’s the lenses.

    Accessorize.  If you want results that look like film, you need to shoot like film.  Having a nice matte box on rails, follow-focus, filters, and monitor can be a huge boost to image quality and productivity on set.

    If you’re on the fence about buying your own 6D, consider renting the 6D from us and letting us know how you liked it!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  9. Magic Lantern and Canon Cameras

    It seems like once a month or so, I run into someone who still hasn’t installed Magic Lantern on their Canon DSLR. Whether you’re shooting on a T4i, 7D, 5DmkII or III, 6D, or one of the other growing number of Canon DSLR cameras that support Magic Lantern, you’re missing out on some great free features!  But, since the Magic Lantern project is run by programmers, not marketers, it can be a little confusing at times.

    Canon 6D

    The Canon 6D Magic Lantern is still in Alpha

    We’ve been using Magic Lantern on every Canon DSLR we rent, and we think you should, too.

    Here’s a few reasons why you should be using it, and how to get started.

    What is Magic Lantern?

    Magic Lantern is free software, developed by a volunteer third party (the Magic Lantern team), that runs on your Canon camera.  It runs “on top of” your current Canon firmware and adds some features that Canon chose not to include.  A slightly different version of the program runs on each camera, but all of them work pretty similarly, and add features for video and still shooting.

    Exposure aids – zebras, histogram, waveform, vectorscope, and false color displays, plus HDR features in still and video modes.

    ml1

    One of the Magic Lantern menus, from the Canon 5DmkIII ML beta

    Focus aids – focus assist (even during recording), peaking, more control of external monitoring options, programmable focus racking, and trap focus features for still photography.

    Sound control – earlier cameras like the T2i (550D) lacked any manual audio control, and newer cameras have only basic configuration options.  Magic lantern allows you to control the gain manually and record two mono channels at different levels, as well as have on-screen metering of audio levels.

    Improved bitrate – if your memory card is fast enough, the camera can write more video data to the card, allowing for an image with clearer fine details and slightly better results in color grading.  Multiple Canon cameras now support raw video recording, at least in limited file lengths and resolutions.  This may help keep the Canon DSLR family competitive with newer offerings from Blackmagic Design.

    Tons of other stuff – including things that were so helpful, Canon integrated them in to official firmware updates. Features like alternate frame rates and manual sound controls were available through Magic Lantern before they were released by Canon.

    What’s the Downside?

    We’ve used it on hundreds of shoots on dozens of cameras and we’re confident in recommending it.  We have heard multiple users have installed Magic Lantern, needed unrelated warranty work, and still had their cameras covered under warranty.  But, because there is a third party involved, there’s no guarantee that Canon will honor it if you do something crazy like melt your CMOS sensor. Basically… don’t be a moron and use it to circumvent safety features, and you’ll be happy.

    To have a trouble-free install, you need to make sure your camera’s firmware matches the version Magic Lantern is expecting.  If you try to use the wrong version, you may get lockups or other weirdness.  If things get crazy, just take out the battery, remove the memory card, and restart the camera.

    How do I Install it?

    The process has become simple since the Magic Lantern project unified all the different cameras together in one download.  This information is current as of version 2.3

    1. Confirm your camera is running the proper firmware version for the version of Magic Lantern you’ll be using.

    2. Copy the Magic Lantern files to your memory card.  If your camera uses SD cards, it’s a bit easier to use 32GB or smaller (SDHC) cards instead of the 64GB and larger (SDXC) cards, which require an extra step

    3. Turn your camera mode dial to M, power on the camera, and perform a firmware update.

    Magic Lantern will take care of the rest, including making the card bootable and setting the right flags.

    Of course, take it out for a spin and shoot some tests before you bring it along for paid work.  If you ever have problems, you can always use a blank memory card, or format the card without reinstalling Magic Lantern, and you can revert back to standard functionality.  But we bet after a few weeks of shooting with it, you can’t imagine ever shooting without it again!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  10. DSLR Shoulder Rig with Rails

    DSLR-shoulder-rigWe started with two DSLR shoulder rigs and “frankensteined” them together into one rig we really like.  This rig is our favorite way to stay portable and handheld, and the rails let you mount a follow focus without trouble.   The counterweight in the back helps make long takes easier, and the rig is fully adjustable to fit any shooting style and size.

    For DSLR and mirrorless cameras like the T3i and GH4, this is definitely the best way to get your handheld video to look good.

    If you like, we can add a standard Manfrotto quick-release so you can easily transition to a tripod, and add some mounting hardware so you can mount your monitor or audio gear.

    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:

    Monitor
    Tripod
    Matte box
    Follow Focus


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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!