The work that us mobile hybrid EFP people do requires a high degree of mobility. The more heavy and bulky a camera rig is, the more mobility is restricted - and when mobility is restricted, the types of shots we can get is also then restricted. We work hard to get the highly creative, hard to get mobile shots that we simply couldn't get with bigger heavier rigs, larger crews, and an AC focusing workflow. So mobile hybrid EFP shooters like me opt for the much lighter weight and less bulk of 35mm still lenses on Red One and Epic. We also routinely accessorize our Red cameras in a "bare bones" configuration - no matte box (we use screw on filters), and no follow focus (we eye focus by operator, no AC).
The Red 18-50 and Red 300 I originally posted about are good lenses and I shot some excellent images with them. But in late 2007, due to the constant mobility needs of my work, I transitioned over to using all 35mm still lenses on my Red One cameras - mostly Nikon, but also some Canon with PL mount conversions. With Epic I'll be using 35mm still lenses exclusively - Canon and Nikon (when mount is ready). When the new Red Electronic zooms and mount are ready I expect them to be great lenses - closely matched with the camera, strong motors, etc - so I'll get those and probably use them mostly, then use my Canon and Nikon lenses when it makes sense to do so.
Though I learned still photography and cine style cinematography early in my career, I found my passion was for mobile EFP work, and I added back in still photography with the advent of DSLR cameras. I don't own a matte box or follow focus - and never have. Screw-on filters are where its at for the mobile hybrid EFP work I do - and since the mobile hybrid EFP industry is giant, I expect a large portion of Epic and Scarlet users to opt for similar setups - lightweight camera setups using 35mm still lenses and screw on filters.
The fixed lens Scarlet features an internal ND filter wheel. That combined with its small size, and a lot of EFP-friendly features, has me convinced it will be a superb mobile EFP camera. I'll post more about that, and the mobile hybrid EFP 35m still lens use of Epic, in this same forum sometime in the relatively near future.
There is a huge image shooting industry out here using Red cameras beyond the cine style/PL lens crowd - namely non-hardlined EFP, hardlined EFP, hybrid, and still photography. The combined hybrid EFP and stills styles of shooting represents a large majority of the Red camera shooting customer base. With these new DSMC (digital stills and motion) cameras from Red, the combined hybrid/EFP/stills industry is the big elephant in the room in terms of number of productions each year, number of people represented, and amount of equipment bought.
Hope this added insight helps you John. A big thanks to Red for creating these new DSMC cameras - its a great time to be working in the combined hybrid, EFP, and stills industry!
Unlike most cameras though, changing ISO settings on a Red does not alter how the sensor is exposed or recorded, it only alters meta data. Iris, shutter speed, and filtration are the only things that directly affect the raw image that is recorded. Changing ISO settings on camera just shifts your monitoring value range. Slipping different values of ND filters into a lightweight clip on matte box would seem to be the handiest solution for run and gun with compact zooms. Leave the camera at its best ISO rating for correct exposure and maximum DR. Control light hitting the sensor instead.
I use screw-on filters as often as possible, mostly with the 18-50mm RED lens (72 mm) and the 11-16 Duclos/Tokina (77mm). As soon as that Canon mount is in wide release, it will change everything about shooting in fast, mobile environments with little weight.
But I have to give a shout-out to RED for their excellent new mattebox. It attaches fast and weights nothing. I've mostly hated matteboxes for their price/value ratio, but this is the only mattebox I've ever truly loved. It is the only one that I can really imagine using in fast environments. I think RED designed it that way. It has changed my mind about using a mattebox for nature and outdoors shooting.
Me, my crews, and scores of other mobile hybrid EFP shooters with Red cameras found early on that the lightest, least bulky, and least expensive way of filtering 35mm still lenses in our work is screw on filters - no matte boxes of any sort, even lightweight clip on matte boxes. Even a clip on matte box increases the bulk and weight of the camera, changes the center of gravity of the rig, greatly diminishes your ability to do "under the radar" shooting ("pro looking" equals more security problems in many locations), hinders your ability to move quickly through cramped spaces, and is a much more expensive setup than screw ons. A small waist pouch of ND filters in the sizes needed for the days shooting is tiny, keeps the lens light, is way less expensive of a setup, enhances mobility of the rig, keeps you in "guerrilla" mode, and with a little practice the screw ons can be changed out just about as fast as drop ins in a matte box.
Mobile hybrid EFP rigs are all about functionality - form follows function. Any bulk/weight that can be kept off the camera is kept off. The more stationary production of some other styles of shooting enables bigger lenses, bigger accessories, and bigger crews - but mobile EFP is all about getting good creative images in a fast moving environment, with the lightest, most mobile camera setup possible. Matte boxes simply don't fit into that scenario. Beyond that, tons of mobile hybrid EFP shooters with Epic and Scarlet are now or will be using these DSMC for stills shooting as the need arises - after all that's one of the functions of these cameras. Beyond my decades of cinematography and videography work, I've been shooting 35mm stills since 1969 - and I've yet to use a matte box on a stills camera. Stills shooters have always routinely used screw-on filters on their lenses - even in fast moving mobile shooting scenarios. So the transition for them to use screw on filters for shooting both motion footage and stills with a 35mm stills equipped Red DSMC camera is quite natural.
Check out my avatar and you'll see that even with Epic I still follow what I just described. That's me and Ketch's Epic M 0008 in the pic, which was shot in early February. I'm using Ketch's Red 17-50, Bomb EVF, and the rig is totally kept down to functionality - and no matte box - low evening light and no ND was needed.
The above said, the Red Matte Box is indeed priced well, light, and strong. For cine style shooters, I.E. those who don't shoot mobile hybrid EFP, I think it would be a very good kit item. But for mobile hybrid EFP production, and for that matter any kind of production that requires a high degree of mobility, I recommend screw on filters for the many reasons I listed above. Some more stationary EFP productions with Red One and Epic cameras may choose to use a matte box - but not for mobile productions. But with the fixed lens Scarlet I see no need for a matte box no matter whether the production is mobile or stationary - because the camera has internal ND's. If I need a polarizer or grad with fixed lens Scarlet I'll simply use a screw on.
For shooting mobile, hybrid EFP and stills with Epic and Scarlet I really see no reason to incorporate heavy/bulky/expensive cine style filtration equipment like matte boxes - much less follow focus units. I could care less about having my camera rigs be perceived as being accessorized like those of a "real cinematographer". After all these years working in the industry I'm just after functionality, mobility, economy, and getting the real good images the networks I produce and shoot for expect. As the mantra goes - Horses for courses.
I've rambled on a bit here Dave - but this is an EFP forum and I've aimed this post at those interested in some input on how to best setup Red cameras for mobile hybrid EFP work.
Steve, do you step up your lenses to a common filter size or just carry a variety of filter sizes?
The filter pouch I use will hold five filters, or four filters and a step up/down ring. The filter selection is usually three levels of ND and a Polarizer, although sometimes a grad filter is in there too.
Steve, what do you think about using variable ND filters? They seem like they would be a great way to save weight, changeover time, and complexity.
Definitely Tom. I've used variable ND filters in some of my DSLR still photography, but since I already had travel pouches for Red containing three separate ND and a Pola, though I intended to, I never got around to trying a variable ND on Red One or Epic. Singh-Ray Vari-ND filters are good, and I'm sure some other companies make good ones too. Variable ND filters are pricey for a screw on filter, but then again it could save you from buying multiple strengths of single ND filters. Then for mobile natural light shooting a tiny waist pouch containing the variable ND and a Polarizer could do the trick.
I don't use matte boxes on Red One or Epic, so if the variable ND filter is threaded on the front I'd use it with a simple screw in lens hood, then in operation simply and quickly twist the shade to change ND levels. I've already been using that type of setup and operation with circular polarizers on some of the 35mm still lenses I use on Red cameras. If the variable ND isn't threaded on the front I'd simply use a clamp on lens hood, clamp it onto the outer ring of the variable ND (or pola), and simply twist the hood to adjust levels.
Link for Singh-Ray Vari-ND info:
Thanks, Steve! Great info as always. We do use matte boxes when teaching cine-style shooting, but students are also doing run-n-gun doc and reality shoots. I will check out the Singh-Ray vari ND. Seems like it would a great thing for student use (less pieces to break or lose), and still give them the benefits of a full set of screw-on ND filters.
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