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Documentary rig for Blackmagic Pocket (Lens recommendation mainly)

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  • Documentary rig for Blackmagic Pocket (Lens recommendation mainly)

    Hello !

    Iíve already presented myself in another thread, but Iíll sum up again just for you !

    Firstly, Iím French, so I apologize in advance for my English which is far from being perfect !

    I work in a camera rental company in Paris, Iím 21, and Iím going abroad pretty soon for a long trip to Argentina with some friends of mine !
    We planned to shoot some documentaries and short stuff while weíll be there.

    I own the Blackmagic Pocket Camera that Iíve now used for about a year. I managed to rig it up pretty early and Iíve found a decent setup for what I was shooting ! (Mainly Music Festivals, short movie, videoclip).

    But now Iím looking for a more compact rig !
    At the moment Iím using a full set of C-mount Angenieux Lenses (10mm retrofocus that I donít use, 15mm 1.3 that is wonderful, 25mm 0.95 and 50mm 1.5) I also have some other C-mount lenses (Kowa 6.5mmÖ) and some Nikon lenses that I also use for my Nikon FE2 SLR (Sigma 28mm 1.8 and Sigma 20-40mm 2.8).

    My rig was mainly composed by V-Lock battery, Small HD DP4, Contineo Cage, Gini Rig & follow focusÖ

    Iíve made some custom lens gear 0.8 for the Angenieux so I can use it with y Ginirig follow focus (I can share the autocad project if you are interested in !!)
    But thatís enough of this pretty heavy setup.

    I managed to have an old Aaton handgrip, and Iím making my own ergo wooden sphere for the left side (serisously, their products are WAY TOO MUCH expensive ! Design is awesome but they pretty much have invented nothingÖ IMHO)

    Iíve bought some short carbon fiber rods and from my Gini Rig only remains the quick release plate !

    Iím thinking of keeping the small HD DP4 + eye piece that Iíd rig just in front of my BM screen. Unless anyone could link me to an awesome LCDVF (not the Zacuto or Kino ones, they are pretty expensive for what they doÖ)

    Follow focus from Gini rig is cool but too heavy for my needs, Iíll do without follow focus (donít have the money for a lightweight one)

    Anyway, Iím talking too much !

    The main part of this rig will be the lenses part !
    I truly love the Angenieux, these little gems are incredible, and they fit very well with my Yashica Scope 1.5x Anamorphic adapter ! But they are pretty hard to operate in a fast run and gun setup. And I would be so afraid to hurt them while running in the jungle, they really belong to a museum !
    (And everything about ďfilter threadĒ is really really REALLY painful with these bad boys !)
    Thatís why I thinking of keeping them (or maybe sell some if Iím very short on money) BUT acquiring another set of lenses or (maybe even better) a decent zoom for run and gun !
    My budget is about 600 dollars maxÖ.. (Yeah I know, thatís not much )

    Here are the options I was thinking about :

    One of my favorite option, was to sell my Sigma 20-40mm 2.8, which is a very decent zoom but not compact at all, and getting the insane Sigma 18-35 ARTÖ Which should be equal in term of weight and all, but which is a killer.
    I do have a Zonghy Nikon SB, which I like, and I could also buy a normal Nikon to MFT adapter for another focal range !
    (That would be something like 37mm to 100mm in FF with or without the SB !!)
    Pretty handy for my style of shoot (I believe that I would need a lens support ?).
    The main CON is that Itís more expensive than my budget, maybe Iíll have the chance to get a second hand one
    And also, Iím not sure about loving shooting with a zoomÖ.. ah ah

    Anyway, you may have some other good option for a compact and pretty lightweight zoom ? I donít mind about the mount, but It would be very cool If I could go pretty low in terms of focal, I prefer a lot shooting at wide angle (yeah, not very convenient with the BM :P)
    Also, It has to be fully manual !
    The 17-50mm Nikon ? Any thought about it ?

    Another great option would be to build my own set of Nikkor or Canon FD glasses !
    Nikkor ones would be so awesome because I could travel with only them and shoot both on my BM and my Nikon FE2 !
    I would definitely go this way If Iíd see some beautiful stuff made with them and a BM cameraÖ Because all I see is some (very gorgeous) stuff with Canon FDÖ And Nikkor doesnít seem the way to go with a BM.
    I really hope that Iím wrong :O !!

    With Canon FDs Iíve seen some very beautiful results (ROMAN/LEGION has some very great stuff on Vimeo check it out !!)
    I could go this way, but Iíd have to buy another SB for FD, and Iím pretty afraid about the fact that apart combined with BM Cameras, FD lense are often useless on other system (But I may be wrong about that !!) and also, I wouldnít be able to benefit from them on my FE2

    To sum up, the Sigma 18-35 is a dream (But I believe that I idealize it).
    I also really would love to build another set of lens (I would like to cine-mod them by my own, custom 0.8 lens gear, 80mm front for LMB, and all the bell & whistles) and I would preferably go the Nikon routeÖ But Iím not sure about that.

    So, what would be the best option for a run & gun documentary shooting (If you donít mind about carrying 4 lenses or more in your bag) ?

    In general, what would be the documentary rig of your dream ?

    Donít hesitate to post photos of your rigs, tell us your story, spread us with your advices !

    (And yes, I believe in the pocket Camera for a documentary setup !)

    Have a sweet day/evening/night to you all

  • #2

    I use the Angenieux 17.5-70 for run and gun stuff and really like it, if it was a little wider it would be ideal.

    I was wondering if you could tell me about the 10mm retrofocus? Why don't you use it?
    How's the image from it, do you have some examples on the pocket?

    I'd really like to build a set of Angenieux lenses to go with the zoom I already use.



    • #3
      My partner and I shoot verite doc with the Panasonic Lumix 12-35 which is a constant aperture 2.8 and very nice glass. I am of the opinion that for run and gun work you should use a shorter focal length zoom. Also, a lot of the the glass you mentioned is older vintage (for example Canon FD) which is fine if that's the look you know you're going for but it will give you less options down the line...


      • #4
        Hi !
        The Angenieux 17.5-70 seems to be a pretty gorgeous vintage zoom, is it parfocal ?
        Do you have it in PL or in C mount ?
        I’ll look for it, but apparently he became pretty expensive with the arrival of BM cameras… 
        Thanks for the tip !
        My 10mm 1.8 Angenieux is unusable for any serious shoot… To adjust focus you have to screw or unscrew the lens on your C to MFT adapter… And It vignettes too much.
        Putting this aside, It could be a lovely lens, but nothing compared to the 15mm 1.3 which is splendid (IMHO).

        I admit that I’m not fond of most of the native mft lenses ! But I may cast a glance to the zoom options that this mount could offer me ! I may let something pass me by !
        The Lumix 12-35 (that I did know) remains a bit expensive, at this price I would prefer to go the 18-35 ART route (I’m not saying it doesn’t worth his price !)
        Thanks for your advice anyway !
        And I agree with you, I need a short focal length zoom !

        I’m more and more thinking about picking up some FD lenses…
        Thanks guys for your tips and all !

        Have a nice day


        • #5

          Please post pictures of your c mount lens gears. I gave my c mount Angenieuxs away with a Bell and Howell 70 to a film school in Santa Fe, Argentina. I still have at least 4 c mounts laying around from 2 other 16mms collecting dust in my office.

          I do not have the patience to use c mounts with the advent of speedboosters and lenses like the Sigma 18-35 and a modified Canon 17-55.

          I feel your problem traveling in Argentina will not be so much the size of the camera at anyone time but the overall amount of what you carry. The best advice I can give is to keep it simple as possible which were it I would be a speedbooster, Tokina 11-16, possibly the Sigma 18-35 so I could get about .8 and still be relatively sharp, definitely an IS such as the Canon 17-55 or 24-105 and something longer such as a 70-200. Removing the speedbooster feels like doubling your lenses.

          Unless my friends were helping me even this with a monopod and a Tascam or Zoom would feel too much. Not only for the weight but to avoid being a target.

          Argentina with the latitude differences is amazingly diverse and beautiful. Hope to see something here of your adventures.

          Last edited by Marckusw; 11-07-2014, 07:16 AM.


          • #6
            Hello !

            Marckusw, here is the actual model I've made for my 15mm & 25mm Angenieux, they work well but It was pretty much a test.


            I'll redo them with some serious material (I was thinking of Delrin acetal resin) and of course they will be in black !

            The options you listed me are obvisoudly damn cool ! But I definitely can't afford them all ! I'll have to choose..


            • #7
              Impressive! Did you print them? Please post pictures of them on your pocket and a bit of footage.

              I gave the Angenieuxs to a photography professor who is a friend and DPs on projects with my son's crew.
              I will be leaving my pocket with them on my next visit and it would be nice to have the option to use them.

              I will figure out which ones I gave them and if it works out for you, pay you for a set. You can just mail them
              once you are in Argentina.

              You might consider hooking up with the indie and student community there, take the lens you feel you need
              and then make a pre-arranged sale before you leave. Every time I go I am hit up to bring something.

              Try to make it Punta Tombo.



              • #8
                Hello all,

                My trip has been delayed to september !

                And I have to admit that I'm not sure anymore about the BMPCC setup for a documentary purpose ...
                But I still work pretty hard on it, and I'll let you know if I go this route !

                Here are some photos of the Angenieux + Custom gear 0.8 + the Yashica 1.5x anamorphic adapter :

                And here are some screenshots of the combo BMPCC + Angenieux (+Yashica adapter for some)

                Have a nice day !
                Last edited by antoine.cormier; 02-07-2015, 03:30 AM.


                • #9
                  where did you find that yashica 1.5x ???? and how much was it if you dont mind me asking? i was looking at the VM anamorphic adapter, but the guys at anamorphic shop said it will only work between f5.5-16 (i have a 28mm canon fd)


                  • #10
                    I am shooting documentaries and recently picked up the Sigma 17-55mm f/2.8 EF mount and the EF active speedbooster.

                    The lens is sharp, fast, and most importantly has in lens stabilization. I was also looking at the Sigma 18-35 and the Panny 12-35, but felt that for the observational style that I am shooting I would want the extra lens length so that I can get the cut away shots I need (i.e. close ups of hands during action) with out getting in the way of my subjects. I have shot the last two weekend with the lens and have been very happy with the results.

                    The only con that I can think of is the short focus throw, but this is not really that much of a con to me as I have found that it lets me pull focus rather quick, once you get use to it.


                    • #11
                      For the exact reasons mentioned above (easy to capture cut aways, inserts, etc) the last doc I shot with the BMPCC on the Panny 14-140 was KING for daytime for us. I used it for like 90 percent of the outdoor shots. The range gave me SO much flexibility in terms of getting good varied coverage without having to swap lenses or insert myself into a situation to get the shot I wanted (though sometimes that's inevitable).

                      The IS is excellent and I don't like to zoom during a shot, so the variable aperture didn't really cause much trouble for me and auto iris actually saved my butt a couple of times and allowed me to quickly capture impromptu shots I might have missed if I was finding aperture manually then focus.

                      So though it's not a great lens in many regards and has plenty of caveats, for doc shooting (at least the type that I am often hired to do), I found it to be to be a VERY handy lens in the kit, which came as a bit of a surprise (I originally thought I'd just use it for the super long end on a few shots). In addition I added just a few small primes (20mm, 28mm, 50mm with Speedboosters) for lowlight, and that was it. Oh, I also had a little Panny 14-45mm to stick on the B cam BMPCC to match the daytime A cam 14-140mm.

                      The whole 2 camera kit + lenses + audio gear, etc fit into a single large camera bag. We ran into ALL kinds of crazy scenarios over a couple of weeks shooting basically in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and this kit had us covered completely.
                      Last edited by JuMo; 02-07-2015, 12:42 PM.


                      • #12
                        i roll with a sigma 18-35 f1.8 with and without a focal reducer... gives me 36-70 and 50-100mm. if i need more, i just use a old and cheap 50mm f2 nikkor prime.


                        • #13
                          JuMo, do you have the first generation of 14-140 (biggest aperture is f4.0) or the second generation (biggest aperture is f3.5)? There are reports of the IS jiggling and vibrating on the newer model, and I wanted to see what your experience is...



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Flabasha View Post
                            JuMo, do you have the first generation of 14-140 (biggest aperture is f4.0) or the second generation (biggest aperture is f3.5)? There are reports of the IS jiggling and vibrating on the newer model, and I wanted to see what your experience is...
                            My experience has been solely with V1 of the lens (f4) and the IS has been pretty much rock solid for me on the BMPCC. I think two occasions the IS appeared to turn off and back turn back on in a split second (I've only seen it maybe twice, it never happened during recording and only happened at 140mm). Also, that was under some pretty harsh environmental conditions for that lens (straight from a cluttered and VERY dusty bone carving studio right out onto the atlantic in a 100 year old whaling skiff). The Panny IS on BMD cams seems to be a bit hit and miss, depending on the lens model, but in my experience, V1 of the 14-140mm has been great. The 12-35mm also has great IS with BMD cams and in my experience so does the 14-42 (version with OIS button), but most, if not all the other Panny zooms seem to be prone to the issue you described (jiggly, shaky, etc) on Blackmagic cams. I hope that helps!
                            Last edited by JuMo; 02-13-2015, 02:49 PM.


                            • #15
                              Thanks for the reply! It's too bad because V2 is supposed to be MUCH lighter, but it sounds like V1 is the one for video. Probably why they're still selling the old one alongside the new...