EOS 600d unveiled

United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, 7th February 2011 – Canon today announces the launch of the EOS 600D – a compact, lightweight Digital SLR (DSLR) that makes capturing exciting, fun and creative images easier than ever. The perfect choice for aspiring photographers looking for a combination of outstanding image quality and ease-of-use, the EOS 600D sits at the top of Canon’s entry-level EOS line-up, above the existing EOS 550D and the new EOS 1100D.First-class image quality
The EOS 600D provides all the tools to capture beautiful stills and HD movies. Amazing picture detail is provided by a high-resolution 18 Megapixel (MP) APS-C CMOS sensor, which combines with 14-bit DIGIC 4 processing so you can capture the wonder of a beautiful blue sky and enjoy exceptionally smooth gradients between colours. The camera’s low light shooting capability enables you to achieve clear, natural images in darker conditions, with an ISO range of 100-6400 that can be further expanded to 12800.

Great for shooting pets, children or wildlife, the EOS 600D allows high-speed shooting at 3.7 frames per second (fps), enabling you to capture fast-moving action. Each shot will be captured in sharp detail thanks to the 9-point Auto Focus system, which can track subjects using the auto focus points across the frame. Even more accurate focusing is providing by an extra-sensitive central AF Sensor, while the iFCL Metering system from the semi-professional EOS 7D features a 63-zone Dual-layer metering sensor, helping you to ensure your shot is correctly exposed, even in difficult lighting conditions.

Easy shooting, amazing results
New fully-automatic Scene Intelligent Auto mode makes it easy for you to capture outstanding quality shots with almost no effort. Allowing you to focus exclusively on framing your picture, Scene Intelligent Auto analyses the scene for you and automatically picks the best settings to capture it. Your images will look better than ever thanks to a new ‘Auto’ Picture Style, which automatically makes fine adjustments to colours while you focus on capturing the scene you want.

The EOS 600D also makes it easy for you to instantly add creativity to your pictures. Change the atmosphere of a scene with Basic+, which allows you to pick the mood you want to achieve from one of eight options, including ‘Warm’, ‘Cool’ or ‘Intense’. Whether you’re shooting landscapes, portraits, or close-up macro shots, Basic+ makes it easy to capture the perfect image.

Simple, flexible, artistic
Ideal for beginners, a Feature Guide has been added to the EOS 600D’s menu system, offering a brief description of each key setting and its effect, helping you learn more about the camera as you use it.

You can also shoot overhead, at ground level or around corners with the EOS 600D’s Vari-angle 7.7cm 3:2 ratio ClearView LCD. Rich on-screen detail is provided in 1.04 million-dot resolution, and the side-mounted hinge allows users to comfortably and creatively shoot from a range of unusual angles, or when using a tripod. A smudge-resistant fluorine coating and three anti-reflection coatings also ensure you can see the LCD in clear detail, wherever you are.

Allowing you to apply your own stamp to your shots, the EOS 600D is perfect for experimenting with different Creative Filters. Fish-eye-Effect creates a barrel-shaped distortion similar to a fish-eye lens, and you can instantly turn a scene into a small-scale model with Miniature Effect. Toy Camera Effect, Grainy B/W and Soft Focus offer additional options, allowing you to experiment with your images in a number of different ways.

Capture stunning detail with EOS movie
Capture your memories in superb clarity with Full HD (1080p) movie mode, while a dedicated movie shooting mode means you can switch between stills and HD video instantly. You can also reach distant subjects using new Movie Digital Zoom function, which crops the centre of the sensor from 3x to 10x while still maintaining Full HD quality – great for capturing wildlife on a safari holiday.

Enabling you to capture more engaging videos, Video Snapshot mode shoots video in two, four, or eight second segments, creating clips that are short, easy to edit and of similar lengths to clips used in most TV programmes. As they are recorded, the clips are saved to a Video Snapshot Album and combined into one movie. A soundtrack can be added by choosing from tracks uploaded to the camera and the result viewed on the camera’s LCD, or on an HDTV via the built-in mini HDMI connection.

The EOS system – unrestricted creativity
As your skills develop, the EOS 600D grows with you. As part of Canon’s EOS range, the camera is compatible with the unrivalled selection of EF lenses and a range of accessories, so you can add to your kitbag as your ability and style develops. Over 60 lenses provide you with unlimited creative possibilities: wide-angle lenses capture sweeping landscapes, macro lenses capture the most intricate beauty of the tiniest creatures, and telephoto lenses make distant scenes appear as if they are right in front of you.

Using Canon’s range of Speedlite flashes and the EOS 600D’s Integrated Speedlite Transmitter, you can also experiment with different lighting techniques, or use your flash off-camera, to give your subject or scene a completely different look and feel. With the Easy Wireless function, the camera will also take care of the complicated settings whilst you focus on framing and lighting your scene as you wish.

Introducing the new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
Launching with the EOS 600D is the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II – a new kit lens that provides excellent performance for beginners. A lightweight construction makes it easy to carry, and Canon’s acclaimed optical Image Stabilization also minimises the risk of blur, allowing photographers to use shutter speeds 4 stops slower while still maintaining a blur-free shot. The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II will succeed the existing EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS in Canon’s lens line-up.

EOS 600D – key features:

* 18-megapixel CMOS sensor
* Scene Intelligent Auto mode
* Full-HD EOS Movie
* On-screen Feature Guide
* 3.7fps continuous shooting
* Wide-area 9-point AF
* 1,040k-dot vari-angle 7.7cm (3.0”) screen
* Basic+ and Creative Filters
* Built-in wireless flash control

Pricing and Availability

* The EOS 600D (body only) is available from early April 2011, priced at £679.00/€819.00 RRP incl. VAT.
* The EOS 600D EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II is available from early April 2011, priced at £769.00/€929.00 RRP incl. VAT.
* The EOS 600D EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS is available from early April 2011, priced at £949.00/€1,149.00 RRP incl. VAT.

Sekonic L-308DC Digi Cine Mate – The DSLR Filmmaker’s choice

Sekonic recently released their new L-308DC Digi Cine Mate light meter which conforms not only to the needs of Photographers as one would expect from this legendary light meter manufacturer but the new offering also caters for filmmakers working with HDSLR cameras.

The delightfully compact light meter offers “Three ways to meter”

HD Cine Mode: Perfect for today’s DSLR videographers.
Make exposure readings and control light using shutter speeds and frame rates and get aperture settings with one-tenth stop accuracy.

Cine Mode: Designed for digital cinematography. Select from the most useful frame rates and shutter angles for exposure control with one-tenth stop accuracy. Lux and foot-candle readout enables quick set up of lights.

Photo Mode: Full control for traditional still-image photographers. Shutter-priority display of a full range of ambient and flash functions including Cord and Cordless flash measurement as well as ambient EV measurement.

The unit also offers “Three ways to measure light”
The Lumisphere provides incident light readings for nearly foolproof exposure readings and enables lighting that scene before the talent arrives.

The Lumidisc is perfect for lighting green screens, adjusting ratios and taking lux and foot-candle measurements.

Reflected light readings enable measuring the brightness of subject tones, gray cards, light sources or window light.

Adtionally, the L-308DC Digi Cine Mate allows for Calibration Compensation, whereby the device can be adjusted to film or digital camera sensors or matching the unit to other handheld meters.

Three Custom Settings tune meter operations and displays to fit your camera and metering requirements.

and its new Illuminance Measurement system measures Lux (lx) and foot-candle (fc) modes, which are especially useful for cinematography which requires precise control of light source brightness.

Turn a compressor preset into a droplet

When faced with the arduous (and often repetitive) task of compressing your video files for review or distribution, setting up compressor can become time consuming. This is especially true when you’re working with a large volume of files.

The easiest way to achieve this is to turn your favourite setting(s) into “Droplets”. These are small ‘applications’ which sit on your desktop (or wherever you want to store them) and tell Compressor what compression settings you require. You can then drag and drop your original onto the Droplet and it will re-compress in the background.

Here’s how to make your own:

Open Compressor and head down to the ‘Settings’ tab.

Select (highlight) the setting that you want to turn into a droplet and click the “Save Selection as Droplet” button (see below).

In the ‘Save as’ dialogue, specify a name for your droplet, a location to save your droplet and a location for the files it outputs after compressing.

A new icon will appear in the specified location. This is your new Droplet.

Once it’s saved, drag and drop an original video file onto the droplet and let go. A dialogue will inform you it’s setting up and allow you to make last minute changes (if required). If not, just just click submit and it will run as a background task.

DIY DSLR Rig – Project complete, for now at least!

After taking a month or so off, we’ve come back at full steam and the DIY DSLR Rig project is now concluded and we’re proud to introduce the Run and Gun variant of our rig:

This setup is primarily designed to be shoulder-slung for mobile shooting. The camera is offset to place the LCDVF in front of the operator’s right eye and the rail plate incorporates a handle for the right hand. Microphone has been offset to the right, freeing up the camera’s hotshoe for a video light if required).

The camera is attached to a tripod quick release plate enabling rapid tripod mounting for static shots.

This setup can be easily broken down and the matte box locked onto the rails for a studio-friendly setup and in this configuration the microphone will usually sit atop the camera although it can still be side mounted if need be.

All of the components barring the extension plate (below) were made by myself from bits and bobs either lying around or purchased for the purpose.

The rails were bought as a 2m length of tubular steel and cut to size, the camera plate was made from several pieces of light-gauge steel lying in my odds and sods box and the shoulder rest was cut from a tin of Cadbury’s Roses, padded with medium density foam and held together with pop-rivets, gaffer’s tape and a carriage bolt (for stability).

The matte box was made much earlier in the project and was again made from scratch. The box is a plastic food container with a strip of aluminium riveted to the back to halt stray light.

The french-flag and barn doors were fabricated from aluminium plate (gas fire backing plate) and pop-rivets, bolted to the box with carriage bolts and butterfly wings. At some point I’d like to replace these with thumb wheels, purely for aesthetic reasons).

The lower section of the unit has a removable riser allowing the camera to be used on the rig with or without the battery grip. The box sits on the front of the rail system, in line with the camera in configuraion #1 – Studio setup and prevents stray studio light from entering the lens. It doesn’t (yet) facilitate the use of filters but this is something I may look at in version 2.

It’s been a fun project and all in it’s cost a grand total of *drum roll…..* £32 (that’s about $50).

Compared with a purchased equivalent, we estimate a saving of something like £900 ($1,400) – £1600 ($2,500) depending on the supplier.

Awesome!

Magic Lantern for EOS 550d

The guys at ML have outdone themselves this time. The 550d code has undergone yet another review this month and is looking better than ever. It now features the following enhancements:

* GUI menus: press the ERASE button to display them, SET/DISP to change values
* Bit rate control (QScale parameter) for the H.264 encoder
* Zebra stripes for overexposed / underexposed areas
* Spotmeter, histogram
* Cropmarks (16:9, Cinemascope, Fisheye)
* Intervalometer (classic or HDR)
* Trap Focus: camera takes a picture when something comes in focus
* Remote release with either the LCD face sensor or audio trigger
* Rack focus
* Stack focus (Live View only)
* Lens data computation
* Onscreen audio meters
* Manual audio gain, selectable input source, disable AGC and digital filters
* Display time remaining during video recording
* Debug functions (display CMOS temperature, screenshot, logging)
* Fine tuning for ISO and shutter speeds; also ISO 25600
* Kelvin white balance
* Clean LiveView display without any overlays (selectable)
* On-demand auto tuning for ISO, shutter & kelvin white balance
* Quick access to some useful settings like HTP, ALO and contrast

We’ve been using the new build for a few days now and not only is it more stable than ever, the new feature set transforms a sub £800 camera into a behemoth which still makes me giggle every time I switch it on!

For more information and to download the code, visit the Magic Lantern Wiki

Focus on Imaging 2011 – Pre register now

Running from 6 – 9 MARCH 2011 at the BIRMINGHAM NEC, Focus on Imaging is the event of the year for professional photographers and enthusiastic amateurs alike.

FOCUS ON IMAGING is Europe’s biggest annual imaging show, covering all your needs from image capture through to output and beyond. Whether you are a professional image maker or processor, a buyer of image making equipment or materials, a manufacturer or distributor of products or a keen hobbyist, a visit to FOCUS ON IMAGING is a must.” – focus-on-imaging.co.uk

Register for your badge at the official website. Entry is free for imaging professionals (trade) and £8 for non trade when pre-registered. Alternatively it’s possible to pay on the door at the higher rate of £10. Either way, you are supplied with a badge which allows admission on one or all of the four day event.

Doors are open from 10am – 6pm Sunday, Monday & Tuesday. 10am – 5pm Wednesday

RØDE Launches VIDEOMIC Pro

Following hot on the heels of its incredibly successful VIDEOMIC, RØDE Microphones have this week launched the much anticipated Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone which boasts a more compact footprint than its predecessor, with the anti-shock mechanism now integrated into the unit.

The unit comprises a forward facing Compact Shotgun Microphone, with a very similar frequency response to the original VIDEOMIC but with upgraded shenanigans so it sounds a lot better.

One major (and by some, very welcome) change is its reduced overall length due to the anti-shock integration. Although I’m a massive fan of the original, it was prone to wobble somewhat and the new design directly addresses this matter head-on by incorporating the operating electronics into a rear-mounted body which now sits neatly behind the camera hot-shoe.



It’s a very compact design and a very sexy one at that, but it does lack some of the ‘presence’ of the original’s exo-skeletal structure. It also comes with a much more elegant cable solution (not that we really objected to the original coil-spring design).

We’ll be getting our hands on one in a few weeks to review but in the meantime, here’s a link to the product page on their Flash-heavy site (smartphone users beware)

http://rodemic.com/microphone.php?product=videomicpro

X-iting news from Handy FILMTOOLS

Today, Handy FILMTOOLS released a teaser trailer showcasing their new BaseX

It looks fantastic and we’d love to get our hands on one to try out and review!

Lighting a film on a low budget.

Even in the world of HDSLRs with their excellent low light capabilities, it remains absolutely essential to properly light a set. Light allows you to apply layers of focus to a scene, drawing the viewer’s gaze to the intended subject, it can add depth and resonance to an otherwise flat scene and it has the power to transform a room into a beautiful set.

But with ever decreasing budgets, is it possible to achieve the look of a big budget film with little or no cash to spend on lighting? The answer is a resounding YES!

Low budget film makers have many tools at their disposal, the most useful being the ability to creatively turn a problem into an opportunity. Charity shops, flea markets and car boot sales are great places to rummage for gear which can be adapted for use, although many items will only really be suitable for use as practicals.

With the growth of the internet driving the cost of many electronic goods down, our capacity for low cost solutions increases by the day, if you know where to look.

Online auctions such as Ebay are great places to find second-hand equipment and low cost ‘aftermarket’ solutions but if there’s a lot of demand for an item, the savings you would expect can be demolished in the heat of a bidding war. At worst, you may wind up paying the same price (or more if you’re not careful) as a new item.

Whatever the market place, it really does pay to be creative…

Redheads


We’d all love a set of Redheads to throw in the boot of the car before a shoot but with an average price of around £650-700 for a kit, this isn’t always a viable option. But if you know where to look, you can find kits for a fraction of the average price! For example, on ebay there are always a raft of companies offering cheap Redhead kits for around £180-200. A massive saving if you’re prepared to take a punt. I’ve never used cheap ebay reds but at those prices but they sound like a gift horse.


Work Lights


The Double Site Light (Approx £23) is an excellent option if you’re on a micro budget. For around 1/4 of the price of a single red, you get 2x 400-500w lamps which come with their own stand. Admittedly the stands aren’t as robust (or as flexible) as those provided with traditional film lighting, they do what they need to and at that price are almost too good to be true.

Also available is the smaller
Single Site Light (Approx £7). These have no stands but can be useful as fill lights or even back lights.

You will find the light output to be a little harsh and consequently, they’re best used off a wall or through a diffuser in most instance. Also, in the absence of barn doors, you’ll need to watch out for spill, but this can be controlled with a little Black Foil.

Chinese Lanterns (aka ‘Chinaballs’)

These little beauties are awesome for adding a soft fill to a scene. They come in a variety of sizes and are usually sold as lamp shades rather than lighting kits.

That said, being the little industrialists that we are, for the sake of a little 2-core flex, a light fitting a socket and a bulb, you can have a chinaball or 5 up and running in just a few minutes for as little as £20.

White Xmas Lights


These are little gems which really help to add texture to a backdrop (especially when shooting with a narrow DOF). That said, they can also be scrunched up to add fill light to an awkward spot or even be dropped inside bowls and vases and used as practicals. For between £6 and £20 for a set, they’re a very useful addition to your lighting arsenal.

Halogens
These days, there’s an extraordinary range of scope when looking at halogen lights. You can buy small clip-on desk lights, larger desk standing lights and even strings of lights to suspend from the ceiling. All of these can be used as low-budget lighting solutions either as scoops or as practicals.

Places like IKEA offer a dazzling array of products for little cash, as do the likes of Argos and even B&Q. Bulbs aren’t too expensive either and come in a range of sizes and strengths to suit almost all of your micro budget needs!

Feeling adventurous?
If you’re able to operate a jig-saw and have the nounce for a little DIY electrical work, you can purchase lighting roses and flex from your local DIY store and, with a little wood or MDF and some patience, it’s possible to make your own Soft Boxes, a Ring Light and many other custom configurations for very little cash.

These projects are definitely not for the feint hearted but, if you know your way around a circuit diagram, can offer massive savings and are very rewarding.

Bulbs & Colour Temperature
All of the solutions above fall into the ‘Tungsten’ category, offering a colour temp in the region of 2700°K-3200°K so if you have any daylight in your scene, you’ll need to address this with either Day>Art gels on the windows or Art>Day gels for your lights (where possible).

Alternatively, it’s possible to purchase daylight bulbs but beware, some low cost ‘daylight’ low energy bulbs can give a flickery green hue.

You need to specifically look for bulbs which express a colour temperature of 6300°K-6500°K and whilst they may cost a little more up-front, they are generally worth the extra outlay due to their longer operating lives and more importantly (in the case of low energy bulbs), their lower operating temperatures.

Which reminds me… now may be a good time to look into a small fire extinguisher… just in case!

Good luck and happy lighting!



LCDVF 3/2 Review

First Impressions
The LCDVF 3/2 is a new version which comes in a 3:2 form factor to snugly fit Canon’s EOS 550d (amongst others) and since we’re currently using the 550d on an almost daily basis, this seemed the perfect time to test-drive the new loupe.

It comes supplied with a pre-attached satin lanyard, 2 metal frames for attaching to the camera body, a cleaning cloth, a neoprene carrying case and user guide including fitting instructions. A very welcome inclusion was a Bluestar micro-fibre eyepiece cushion, which sits snugly over the rubber eyecup and makes the unit infinitely more comfortable to use on long shoots.

Upon first inspection, I was quite disappointed with the LCDVF. The plastic feels brittle and the manufacturing wasn’t to the standard that I expected. On the demo unit we received, there is a small nick in one of the inner edges that is quite visible when looking through the loupe, although not so large as to be distracting. Also, the long edges of the camera-attaching end are not exactly straight which made it a little tricky to align with the camera’s screen.

That said; this is where the disappointment ended.

In Use
Fitting the magnetic frame to the camera was very straightforward with the adhesive strip remaining malleable enough to pop off and realign in the first few seconds yet forming a fast bond once ‘massaged’ into place.

Rested under a couple of light books, the frame was set firmly in place within 15 minutes, but to be safe, we left it sitting under this gentle weight for 3 hours, by which time it seemed all-but immovable.

The loupe snaps on and off the camera effortlessly yet once in position, the magnetic bond is strong enough to cope with a range of movements, remaining firmly and comfortably in place until you need to remove it, at which time it hangs easily from the neck via the lanyard so it’s always within reach.

Once in place, it provides a 200% magnification of the camera’s view screen making focus effortless whilst recording. Prior to shooting, in conjunction with the 5x and 10x magnification, setting up focus is pin-sharp, even with the aperture wide open.

With the LCDVF in position, the camera is now held against the eye during shooting, providing a 3rd point of contact. Micro rotations are massively reduced by the increased length of the body and by the shifting of the focal plane forwards by approximately 2.5 inches. This increased stability means that slow, steady tracking shots through hand-held work become more viable.

Verdict

LCDVF is almost half the price of the Zacuto Z-Finder but even though we’ve not been able to test-drive a Z-Finder yet, we can’t think of any reason how this lesser price could offer any lesser benefits. Once applied to the camera it instantly provides a massive increase in focus-ability and apart from the magnetic frame no ‘setting up’ was required. It just snaps on and instantly provides a clear 200% magnification as promised.

For anyone planning to shoot video seriously with their 550d (or any other DSLR for that matter), we strongly suggest that the first investment you make is in an LCDVF. Since the minute we attached this demo unit to our camera, we all agreed that shooting video without it is not something we’d ever like to do again.

It’s not only useful for video makers though. We enjoy stills photography too and whilst it’s a little cumbersome for every-day use, for macro photography, it is an invaluable tool, allowing for very fine levels of focusing to be achieved.

All in all, a fantastic product which quickly makes itself an essential piece of your filmmaking kit.

Rating
Ease of use: 5/5
Build quality: 3/5
Functionality: 5/5
Sex appeal: 4/5
Value for money: 5/5

Overall rating:

5/5 – Highly recommended.