The Azden PRO-XR is a 2.4 GHz digital wireless microphone. It was announced at NAB earlier this year, but we didn’t get to cover it. The PRO-XR looks to be a very versatile and affordable radio mic solution. The PRO-XR uses several new technologies. It avoids line-of-sight dependency and congestion problems that plague traditional 2.4 … Continued
The Manfrotto 635 FST tripod is the start of a new generation of tripods revealed at IBC 2019, changing the design of traditional locking legs.
The Manfrotto 635 FST (Single Leg Fast) tripod; constructed from carbon fibre, the tripod legs can be deployed quickly through the Extra M-Lock system. Twisting the locks release both the top and bottom sections, which can be extended by sliding the sections. Once the height has been set, the legs can be locked up just as quickly.
Image credit: Manfrotto
Unlock and Slide
From using the tripod first hand on the show floor, the Extra M-Locks could do with being a bit larger, to get a better grip. The tripod feet are spikes, with rubber over shoes, rather than a solid rubber foot seen in older models. A spreader can also be used for stability, with this clipping onto the feet of the tripod. This has also seen a re-design, now with push-button release.
Image credit: cinema5D
For use with mid-size fluid heads such as the Nitro N8, the Manfrotto 635 FST is designed with a 75mm half ball, but is compatible with a 60mm half ball adapter too.
Manfrotto have also announced the 645 FTT tripod, which we have checked out too, watch this space for that article and video. The key differences between the two are the twin leg and lock design.
In a competitive market, does the Manfrotto 635 FST tripod stand out to you? Are you looking for a quick release solution for your tripod? Let us know in the comments.
The established filmmaker takes Apple’s latest for a test drive in Paris
Cult of Mac reported that Rian Johnson had shot some footage in Paris, and we’re happy to share it here as a taste of what video looking like coming off the iPhone 11 pro. Granted it’s a quick series of shots from around Paris (always a great subject…) and his ‘review’ is a tweet. But hey! It’s something!
Apple let me mess around with their new iphone pro, and I cut together this little thing. Pretty shots of Paris ftw. I usually find phone camera upgrades to be baby-steps and not very exciting, but this wide angle lens is a real game changer.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) September 20, 2019
Paris 9/19 from rcjohnso on Vimeo.
No word yet on if Johnson’s stand-alone Star Wars movies will be shot on the iPhone or not. We’re sure fans would LOVE that.
In any case, it’s exciting to see what people can do with this phone and its many lenses. We’ll keep you posted as we see more footage from more folks who get their hands on it.
25 years after its release, The Shawshank Redemption is just as powerful and career-changing now as it was then.
Shawshank Redemption is the best Stephen King adaptation ever.
Frank Darabont’s perfect screenplay captures the tricky tone of King’s novella effortlessly, while enhancing the source material with its dramatic license — all in the service of theme and character. Of telling an intimate, emotional epic at human height — so that every victory wrongfully-imprisoned Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) earns or traumatic setback he suffers feels like one of our own.
But executing that vision, those intents, obviously wasn’t easy. In fact, in a recent interview with Empire, Darabont shared that “every day of filming felt like a failure.” He felt what all directors do: They didn’t have enough time or money. It’s inspiring that even someone at his level feels imposter syndrome, and on his film’s 25th anniversary, Darabont shares two behind-the-scenes moments that changed his process. They can also change yours.
Have you ever been to a spectacularly picturesque location and envisioned a perfect image in your head, only to never commit and follow it through? I’m far too guilty of that, but this time, I was determined to get the shot I wanted, no matter how many ridiculously hilarious mistakes it took along the way. Here’s how I did it.
As a parent of two young children, there isn’t as much time for photography as there used to be. I often go weeks without making an image that isn’t one of the kids. But all that changed when I discovered the joys of a zoo membership.
It’s 2010, and a young Ted Hesser is in Nepal, rappelling into a cave from a mega-sketchy anchor: Two pieces of two-foot rebar hammered in the mud. He’s joined an expedition team, supported by National Geographic and The North Face, and it just so happens to be Cory Richards’ first-ever photo assignment for arguably the most well-known publication in the world.
Photographer Gary Gruber recently purchased a Hasselblad lens accessory on eBay. As he waited for the order to travel from South Africa to his home in the United States, Gruber was baffled by the route DHL sent it on.
“I buy and sell a ton of photo gear on eBay,” Gruber tells PetaPixel. “99.8% of the transactions I’ve made in the last 18 years have moved from seller to me flawlessly.
“I’ve made many purchases from Japan and China and am used to the 5-6 day delay as my purchases make their way through customs on both ends.”
In this particular case, Gruber was trying to buy a $20 Hasselblad lens focusing lever, and the seller he found had a great rating and was based in South Africa.
After placing his order, Gruber received 39 shipping updates between when the package was picked up on September 9th and when it was finally delivered on September 18th (in reverse chronological order):
Here’s the route the package appears to have taken in terms of countries: South Africa to The Netherlands to Belgium to the USA to South Korea to China (Hong Kong) to the USA.
The package had already arrived at the nearby Delivery Facility in Ontario, California, on September 11th before DHL decided to send it on another week-long journey to the other side of the world.
“Once before I had an item misrouted by DHL, but this comedy of errors certainly takes the cake for inept handling of a package,” Gruber says.
The eBay seller offered Gruber a full refund while the package was on its unexpectedly long (in terms of distance) journey, but Gruber declined and opted to wait and see when or if the package would arrive.
“The tracking history alone might make good fodder for a short movie!” the photographer says. “Incidentally, the lever did not fit my Hasselblad 80mm lens and the retaining screw was stripped, so the item is useless.”
Image credits: Header illustration based on world map by Roke and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Fans of Fujifilm will be pleased to know that the company has announced the development of the X-Pro3, the next in their line of rangefinder-style cameras. The camera will have some very unique features and upgrades; check them out here.
An Ohio-based photographer was shooting senior photos at a state park earlier this month when she was struck by a falling tree branch and killed. Authorities suspect foul play, and now a $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to justice.
FOX8 reports that 44-year-old Victoria Schafer was standing on stairs near Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park and shooting portraits of six high school students when part of a tree fell on her.
After taking a look at the branch and scene, investigators concluded that it didn’t appear to be a natural event, and things went from being an accident investigation to being a criminal investigation.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) says there was a group of people on top of the cave where the branch fell from when the incident occurred, and that those people may have been responsible for Schafer’s death.
“We do have evidence to support that individuals, and we have descriptions of them, were on the top section above where this incident happened and dislodged this section of tree,” ODNR Captain Schaad Johnson tells FOX8.
Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers (phone number 800-222-8477) is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person (or people) responsible.
ODNR and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are teaming up on the investigation, and they’re asking anyone who was in the area that day to report anything suspicious they may have seen.
Introduced in 1988, the Nikon F4 was the world’s first professional autofocus camera, and it made its way quickly into the hands of many working photographers. But despite the incredible leap in technology it represented, it was apparently quickly overtaken by the competition, which built on the solid foundation the F4 offered.
Early reviews were kind, but the advances in all areas of camera technology since then have left it more a cult option for today’s users.
I’ve seen the F4 in common use today as a portrait machine or as a landscape option with slide film – slower genres that take advantage of the excellent metering and intuitive controls. Less seen is the application to faster-paced, action-oriented environments: sports, wildlife, and my use case: photojournalism.
My decision to try the F4 for photojournalism was based entirely on the practicality of the system. Although I don’t baby my gear, there’s a line between general-purpose use and beater use, and my work at protests or in harsh weather conditions definitely calls for a beater. Features like weather sealing, manual controls, and a reputation for a sturdy build were all taken into consideration in my decision to go for the F4. I also liked that it was a simple enough system, with no menus or many features I wasn’t likely to use.
Within a few days of use, I had my share of irks with the camera; things like shutter blackout (which I’m not used to at all) took me some getting used to, and the meter readout didn’t make sense to me at all.
However, any and all of the small irritations I felt with this camera were outweighed by the images I actually made with it. Shooting at 50mm I was not held back in any majorly disruptive way and was able to work just as efficiently as with the camera system I am used to.
I had none of the concerns bringing the camera right into the heat of the action, where I may have otherwise felt a little more reserved with my Leica setup. For the Nikon F4, 50mm f/1.4, and 80-200mm f/2.8 I paid just over £300 (~$370), which is essentially nothing compared to my usual rangefinder equipment.
I believe that the reason many photojournalists prefer to shoot from a distance with longer lenses is the value of their gear. I think this has a negative effect on the quality of their work and that we would have a much more emotive selection of images if more chose to shoot wider and much closer. Cheaper gear encourages this approach – the emotional impact of the image ought to outweigh any concern over megapixels or sharpness.
The majority of the images in this article were taken at 50mm, which I think is the best focal length for reportage work. I could work on 50mm alone, but I’ve wanted to play with a longer focal length for a while now – 90mm is my standard for all-round photography, but anything more than that is tricky on a rangefinder. The SLR gave me the chance to incorporate 80-200mm, which I’ve been using for slower-paced scenes – such as during peaceful protests when people are less aggressive, and I’m able to reach in and pick them out of the crowd.
Autofocus with the 50mm is fast — about as fast as I can manually focus with a rangefinder. This is faster than I expected, as the majority of things I’d heard about the autofocus was that it was the main reason to avoid the camera. I’ve had no issues with missed focus so far, but I’ve struggled with focus locking, as I’m used to moving to accommodate for my subjects changing distance from me. I’ll sometimes refocus a few times before being comfortable that it’s dead-on. The central point AF is close enough to the way I’m used to working with a rangefinder patch, although it can be difficult to see – especially in low-light.
I can see how the central focus point could be an issue for sports or wildlife photographers who would need a wider grid to work with, but for the focus/recompose method of shooting I’m used to with a rangefinder on the street, I couldn’t think of a better system I’d rather use for fast action happening within a few meters from me.
Manually focusing an SLR is one of my least favorite things, even with a split prism. I use the F4 as an autofocus-only camera and simply have to trust that whatever I’ve pointed it at is in focus. The single point system is very similar to the Contax G, so any users of that system should have no problems adjusting. The F4 makes similar use to the G of indicators in the viewfinder to help with focusing, but with the added benefit of the through the lens verification that things look the way the photographer wants. With these methods combined, I don’t worry as much about focus as I do with other SLR cameras.
My low-light experiences with the F4 are noticeably more frustrating than with my rangefinders. I find both framing and focusing to be an annoyance — the focusing will lock on quickly enough when there is sufficient contrast, but in any other case, it will struggle. I have to slow right down in darker areas, whereas with my M6 in the same conditions I can essentially continue to shoot with no changes necessary.
I do like how dampened the shutter is, and I’ve enjoyed the ability to shoot down to very low speeds handheld – often essential for night scenes.
I haven’t had much of an issue with this workflow – I think it would be most comparable to the way I shot my Contax, essentially as a point and shoot; but there are compromises to make. Having said that I think the slight adjustments I’ve had to make for this system to work in my hand haven’t detracted from the actual work. The images I’ve so far produced with this camera are in line with my expectations, and that’s what matters. I feel I’m able to get closer to the action and capture it quickly without being held back by the camera.
Photography, and especially film photography, continues to gather popularity from new enthusiasts and newcomers to the art. We are also currently seeing (for better or worse) an intense amount of civil unrest in the form of protests, riots, rallies, and significant events.
This generation of photojournalists and visual storytellers has access to the entire history of photographic tools, and it’s great to shoot alongside photographers who are using anything from medium format Hasselblads to disposable film cameras. The entry requirements necessary to create a beautiful image are almost non-existent, which leaves some obvious choices to anyone dedicated to storytelling – I think the Nikon F4 is one of these.
Compared to what’s on offer from modern cameras it’s a restrictive option, but it’s by no means defined by its restrictions. When putting the story first, it is a better option than anything a photographer on a budget is likely to be buying new. I’ve found it a fantastic option for fast-paced photojournalism, and I think that it, along with an era of classic film cameras, ought to be finding it’s way into the hands of today’s passionate storytellers.
About the author: Simon King is a London based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can follow his work on Instagram and you can read more of his thoughts on photography day-to-day over on his personal blog. Simon also teaches a short course in Street Photography at UAL, which can be read about here.
Fujifilm has been working on development of an extreme lens, a 33mm f/1.0, for its X-mount mirrorless cameras for a little while now. However, the company has announced that they have canceled development of the lens in favor of a new 50mm f/1 lens.
September 21st, 1979. Forty years ago, British rock photographer, Pennie Smith immortalized the destruction of a Fender P-Bass guitar by Paul Simonon of The Clash on the stage of The Palladium in New York City, on gorgeous B&W 35mm film.
Her soft-focus, grainy image with its blown-out highlights and development stains has been dubbed by numerous publications and music fans, “the Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Photograph of All-Time.”
Ms. Smith originally considered her masterpiece a throwaway. It was only until Joe Strummer, lead singer of The Clash, was sifting through piles of then-recent prints that he found this buried treasure and gave it its rightful place in history.
The photo was cropped down to a square and became the cover of the band’s breakthrough 1979 album, London Calling. Graphics on the album were made to mimic Elvis Presley’s self-titled record. Within this context, Smith’s photo and The Clash’s music ushered in a powerful revolution that established punk as a legitimate form of both rock and artistic expression.
It was a Friday night in New York City on 9/21/79. British music photographer, Pennie Smith had been following The Clash on their Take the Fifth Tour since the start of the month and would be with them through October. She’d been invited to take a night off and bar-hop with friends but she chose to shoot The Clash’s show at The Palladium instead.
The venue contained fixed seating which forced the audience to remain more or less still and in place throughout The Clash’s high energy performance. Bassist Paul Simonon was growing frustrated with the lack of audience feedback. It was a regular part of his performance to swing his low-slung Fender Precision bass around by its strap as he played. But by the final song, White Riot, Simonon’s anger boiled over.
Smith reflected, “I remember thinking something was wrong, realizing Paul was going to crack… and waited.”
Pennie lifted her Pentax ESII to her eye, set the focus and aperture on its screw mount Takumar lens. Simonon took his instrument by the neck and swung its heavy body like an ax into the air above him. At this fractional moment with the Fender’s body raised to it’s highest point before its final drive to the floor, Smith snapped the electronically timed cloth shutter, exposing Kodak Tri-X 35mm film to the contrasty light of this epic moment.
Simonon brought the bass guitar crashing down onto the hard stage floor, splintering its neck, parting the frets and cracking the solid-body electric all the way through, straight down its center. The tension on the strings, fully released, held together the remains of the instrument loosely.
“The shot is out of focus because I ducked — he was closer than it looks,” Smith recalled.
The greatest rock ‘n roll photograph of all time does not adhere to the slick, glassy, grainless commercial conventions of today. In fact, it plainly recommends they f**k off.
You can’t see anyone’s face. The subject is almost unidentifiable.
Highlights are blown stops beyond recovery. Irrelevant background elements compete with the subject for the brightest part of the image, and therefore, to what the eye is drawn.
Nothing’s even sharp! Nothing. The subject is the most in-focus part of the image but is far from sharp, clear or crisp.
Details are obliterated by grain and the soft focus and/or camera shake.
Perhaps the most egregious offense of all is the long vertical hard water stain snaking its way up nearly the entire left side of the frame. This shoddy development artifact is accompanied by a few other less prominent but visible bits of evidence of the handcrafted nature of the image.
This is simply inappropriate for proper rock photography!
But what the image does, in its complete disregard for fine detail, resolution, smooth tonality or clean processing, is transform this moment into the basic elements of design; form, line, space, and shape.
Simonon is not just a person. He’s an equilateral triangle! A triangle within the narrow end of a quadrilateral which is formed by the perimeter of the photograph and the beam of stage light that cradles Simonon. The intersection of the neck of the bass with Simonon’s hands creates a weighty, anchor point in the geometry of the image. This anchor drags the action and motion of the scene down into the lower third corner.
The other anchor point is the intersection of the guitar’s body and the line of the stage light. Here, mass is given a precise coordinate. All the big negative space behind and above Simonon is a cantilever that both balances the frame as well as provides gravity while the two anchors map the direction of movement. This alignment of math and moment gives the viewer a sense of the real weight of that bass guitar, and all the anger inside it, about to come down.
What’s more is that cluster of circular stage lights that punctuate the upper portion of the photograph. Imagine if they weren’t there. The image would still be fantastic. But with the lights, Simonon’s body has an echo in negative. Simonon is mostly black on a mostly grey background while the stage light cluster is white on a black background within another polygon. One can almost see a complete yin-yang in this interplay.
“Yin and Yang… ‘dark-bright’, ‘negative-positive’ is a concept of dualism in ancient Chinese philosophy, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world. [#]”
Let that soak in for a while.
There’s just so much going on in this grainy, dirty, out of focus black and white photograph that I seem to get more out of it from each viewing. It amazes me that people still chase after these sterile, grainless live music photos when something like this exists to prove it all rather pointless.
What I get out of all this is that like in punk rock music, equipment and precise technique are far less important than artistic sensibility and vision. High-quality equipment is cool. And honing one’s skill is of course critical. But we also must know when to throw these things to the wind and see how they scatter. And not get so lost in technical perfection that we forget what our hear sees. Follow instincts, gut reactions, go with what feels right.
Okay, well, that’s enough of that hippy s**t. Happy 40th anniversary to the famous Paul Simonon bass smash photo. And to The Clash’s London Calling. Thanks for reading and thank you Pennie Smith, for showing up with your Pentax and your Tri-X and ambition and giving us something to consider.
About the author: Johnny Martyr is a East Coast film photographer. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. After an adventurous 20 year photographic journey, he now shoots exclusively on B&W 35mm film that he painstakingly hand-processes and digitizes. Choosing to work with only a select few clients per annum, Martyr’s uncommonly personalized process ensures unsurpassed quality as well as stylish, natural & timeless imagery that will endure for decades. You can find more of his work on his website, Flickr, and Facebook.
Tamron has been absolutely killing it with their highly lauded lenses for Sony’s full frame cameras, the 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD and 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD. It seems the company is showing no signs of stopping, with an announcement of four brand new lenses on its way in October.
Divisive films are wonderful – always a lot of fun to try out. They can be some of the absolute best or some of the very worst films ever made, so running the risk is always quite fun and, when rewarding, quite the experience. They can also just be bland, but thankfully that isn’t too often, with the majority falling into either extreme – a terrible film you can only wish to forget as soon as your brain permits you to, or a masterpiece you can never get out of your head.
So, here are ten films that will hopefully stop the need to try to forget some of these riskier ones and only give you the greats… but, they’re divisive for good reason. This one might ruffle some feathers.
1. Despite the Night (Philippe Grandrieux, 2015)
Grandrieux certainly makes some… discomforting films, to say the least. One can easily suggest that this is the main reason for his entire film catalogue being so divisive among audiences, but his style would also suggest that there is much more to it than that.
Not only do his films focus on truly deranged situations and characters, but the way that they are told is set to match, his camera and editing collaborating to make some of the most consistently dizzyingly uneasy moments in 21st century cinema.
Sombre was certainly a strong start to a career, and it would seem that he only gained more control over his audiences with time, with his most recent film Despite the Night being his masterpiece, one of the most inexplicably unsettling films of the century so far.
With a focus on the deranged, the dangerous and erotic all rolled into one, Grandrieux takes the work of someone like Cronenberg and suddenly makes it a whole lot more serious, to the point that it all becomes a little too real.
It’s completely understandable that people would be made so uncomfortable by this film that they dislike it, but it’s a damn shame that the film (along with Grandrieux’s other works) have a poor reputation among the majority of those who have seen his films. A real shame, as his work is some of the most bold and assured of the century so far, and it really demands to be seen by any serious film fan. They’re incredible.
2. Glass (M. Night Shyamalan, 2019)
The most recent film included on the list is M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass. Working as a culmination to a trilogy nineteen years in the making, tail-ending Shyamalan’s other films Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016), Glass is admittedly a film that seems to take some pleasure in consistently worming its way out of the grip of the audience and then faintly chuckling at them because it feels smarter.
This isn’t too much of a problem, though, as the film presented is so carefully, and so beautifully constructed because of the nineteen years behind these characters that it all runs unimaginably smoothly. It’s a film most aptly analogised as seeing a great puzzle put itself together.
The performances across the board are fantastic, with Bruce Willis giving one of the greatest performances of his career and McAvoy improving on the physicality of his character in a truly shocking way at times.
It is one of Shyamalan’s most depressing, but also most hopeful films yet, and it is also one of his best. It’s reassuring that someone as cinematically lost as Shyamalan was in the late 2000s and early 2010s could come back so strongly, with his last three films all delivering wonderfully. It’s good to have Shyamalan back.
3. Unsane (Steven Soderbergh, 2018)
Okay – one has to be admit that this film simply isn’t the most controversial or the most divisive, but the way that some hold this in their mind as at least one of the greatest films of 2018, and of Soderbergh’s career, and others simply find it dry and uninteresting is kind of captivating.
With some of the boldest editing of the decade so far, and Soderbergh’s phone aesthetic working wonders to add to the claustrophobia induced by the tight framing, Unsane is a thriller if ever there was.
It’s amazing just to see a film as mainstream as this one to try so many new things with so much confidence, mainly with the use of a phone (likely only allowed because of the growing success behind Sean Baker’s Tangerine from a few years prior) as the camera, but more importantly, the way that this film consistently puts the story in the background and focuses on using different cinematic techniques to focus on the feeling of the situation that the story creates.
Soderbergh cares very little for the nuances of the story, allowing them to simply pass by in the background whilst the incredible editing and wonderfully jarring cinematography take the forefront and make the audience feel dizzy and nauseated.
It’s just brilliant to see a director like Soderbergh shake off the shackles that come with mainstream success and go crazy as he used to, and it’s also re-assuring that now films this good can be made on devices so small and so accessible. Certainly an important film for any low or no budget filmmakers to see, just for the inspiration of it. It’s a shame that High Flying Bird wasn’t quite so good.
4. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2013)
Harmony Korine must simply enjoy creating controversy through his films by now, or he must at least be so used to it that it no longer has any effect, as with Spring Breakers – puzzlingly his most commercially successful film to date, other than maybe The Beach Bum (2019) – Korine takes his typically controversial and aggressive cinematic style and applies it to this much more mainstream narrative of good girls gone bad in the name of finding popularity, sleazy sex and money during the time of America’s most… passionate(?) holiday, Spring Break.
Starring the lovable oddball James Franco in what must be his strangest role to date, as a stoner who almost constantly is mumbling, or slurring, ‘Spring break… spring break forever…’ under his smoky breath, Korine manages to find a strange meeting point between the underground cinema he has worked in for so much of his career and the mainstream cinema he clearly has quite a love for. Korine seems to becoming more popular, and his style seems to be experiencing quite a change, and it’s definitely fun to watch even if he doesn’t always hit a home run.
5. It Comes at Night (Trey Edward Schultz, 2017)
Horror is one of the most subjective genres of all, maybe next to comedy the single most subjective, mainly because all of us are simply scared by very different things, something that can’t be helped. However, It Comes At Night also decided to be a slow-burning and extremely enigmatic horror, more dependent on whatever the audience members individually add to the film rather than telling a clear-cut story, and using cinematic form in a way to certainly create a specific atmosphere and mood, but never to really divulge anything of importance to the audience in terms of what it is that they should really be afraid of.
It Comes At Night much prefers basking in its eerily enigmatic and quiet state, refusing to show its hand and instead playing on a ruthless level of the fear of the unknown, until the anxiety eventually bubbles over and becomes absolutely unbearable.
Largely focusing on dream sequences, and how paranoia can influence the mind (specifically depending on the world someone is surrounded by), and essentially binge-written following the death of a loved one by writer/director Trey Edward Schultz (also known for the excellent Krisha), It Comes At Night is simultaneously a film to be prescribed to the horror fan in need of the jolt of adrenaline from a fix of some of the darkest chills in horror history… but also to an insomniac looking to be bored, due to the plain and simple subjectivity of all of its scares. A very strange case, aptly applied to a very strange film.