By Rainer von Rottenburg
Disclosure: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. Please help support wolfcrow and buy from Amazon. It won’t cost you anything extra.
[Editor’s note – Rainer isn’t a native English speaker so I’ve taken the liberty of changing a few words here and there. If there is any deficiency in the quality of language or its presentation, the responsibility is solely mine.]
Why do I work as a VJ (video journalist) when I could have a big team supporting me? Of course it’s mostly the budget but there is something else. I like to work alone and turn my vision into pictures. Back in the days when I was in the editing room I was always missing footage the cameraman didn’t shoot because he lacked understanding of the story. And I had some very beautiful pictures but I couldn’t bring them into the story. Since I know what I need for my story (as an editor) I thought I might make that a little better.
Check out my Audi ice experience project (my first DSLR VJ work shot with the Panasonic GH3
Since I have been working with DSLR equipment for only 3 years I am not really an expert. When it comes to lenses, there’s far better insight here on Wolfcrow and other blogs. But what I can tell you is, which low priced lenses proved to be very efficient when working as a VJ with the BMCC. If you want to compete with the big guys low price starts at 400-800 Euro a lens.
Since the Blackmagic Cinema Camera
One thing you have to pay great attention to when getting a lens is the crop factor of the BMCC sensor. When you buy a 50mm MFT lens, it’s not really a 50mm but a 117.5mm, since the BMCC has a crop factor of 2.35. That drastically reduces your options of wide angle lenses.
One way to reduce this problem is by using the Metabones BMCC MFT to Nikon Speedbooster
For me the most important lens is the Nikon 17-35mm F/2.8
Here’s how the Nikon 17-35mm looks on the BMCC:
A couple of examples from the camera, one at 17mm at F/22 and one close-up at 35mm at F/2.8
You can use a 77mm Vario ND filter on it. Vario ND filters are a very important supplement to me when shooting DSLR to get the cool look with open aperture in bright sunlight. So far I was using the Light Craft Workshop Fader ND Digi Pro-HD, but now I read in some blogs that it doesn’t give true color. The experts recommend Tiffen or Heliopan in the low price sector. A tip I want to give here: Always buy the biggest filter size available and adapt with step- down rings. My first DSLR lens had a 58mm diameter for the filter, so I bought 58mm ND just to be very frustrated with my second lens, which had 62mm.
Back to lenses. My second-most important lens is a Nikkor 50mm F/1.8
Another lens I like is the SLR magic 12mm F/1.6
Here’s a shot using the 12mm at f/2:
If I watch people and want to stay a little on distance, I have the SLR Magic 50mm f/0.95
The SLR Magic 50mm at f/0.95:
I recommend not to overdo it with the open aperture, you will regret it in the post, because a lot that might seem sharp on your monitor of the camera or your EVF is not really sharp when you see it on a big screen. Start with f/4 or f/5.6 to get a feeling for the lens and then work your way down. The more motion you have the more depth of field you will need, since a VJ doesn’t have a focus assistant. Using the right aperture is a matter of years of experience, so don’t be frustrated with bad results in the beginning. Of course you can try following with the follow focus, but this is also a matter of long experience to synchronize the timing. I always tend to turn in the wrong direction first. Then I get nervous and then the action is over!
Getting the focus right was one of my biggest problems when changing from video to DSLR. On video you can be a bit neglectful concerning the focus, especially when you shoot wide angle. But the bigger sensor of your camera forces you to be more precise. This is one reason I decided not to go full frame but Micro Four Thirds, because I hardly shoot in any situations where I get to work with such a small depth of field. There’s too much movement and too much unpredictability, so I have to play it a little safe. I put the zoom-to-pixel on one of the function keys of my Zacuto EVF next to the focus assist and it’s my best friend.
In Part Three, I will talk about how I handle data while shooting, and then getting the best out of your footage low-budget-style with FCP-X 10.1.1 using Resolve to convert from Cinema DNG to Prores HQ without a LUT. I use FCP-X, but the possibilities in Premiere Pro or Avid are very similar.
I would be happy about any feedback and will answer all questions. Visit me on: http://www.remake.tv and .