In the market for a cinema zoom lens but on a budget? Lately, for Micro Four Thirds camera users, DZOFilm’s 20–70mm T2.9 parfocal cinema zoom has been the budget answer. But, for those operating EF and PL mount Super35 cameras, the cinema zoom options offering that same focal range for under $5,000 are slim, save for an old RED PRO 18–85 T2.9, maybe a few vintage Angenieux zooms, and the new Venus Optics Laowa OOOM 25–100mm T2.9.

Well, the options were slim.

Back in March, I got the bug to shoot a documentary. COVID had just begun to take hold in my area, Connecticut, and I was anxious at the sudden emptiness on my calendar. Where had all the clients gone? When would they come back? And what could I do now that I had been “given” too much time to handle?

I think many filmmakers out there are facing that same dilemma: what do I do with all this time?

A documentary, of course, would fill in that gap (somewhat). And more than that it would be something that I could…

This pandemic has me thinking about lenses. I have a set of Zeiss ZF.2’s sitting in my eBay cart and some others in the basket over at B&H. Do I need them? Do I really need them? There is no clear answer to that.*

But if I went back to the beginning when that first camera hit my hands (it was a Xacti, then a Nikon), and if I could twist time to bring the lenses of the present into the past, the answer would have been a resounding, “No!”

There is just one lens needed to kick start one’s…

For the last eight months, I have been using the Z Cam E2 S6. I have used the camera in a diverse range of scenarios — outdoors in rain, inside offices for hours long interviews, in manufacturing facilities with lots of dust, in freezing cold snow, and on melting hot, humid night shoots. I have fully given it the “corporate footage” treatment, to say the least, and would like to share my thoughts here in a somewhat alternative review less focused on specs and more on user experience.

My main takeaway is that this camera offers seriously impressive image quality…

Flare testing the Sirui 50mm F1.8 Anamorphic Lens
Flare testing the Sirui 50mm F1.8 Anamorphic Lens

The $699 Sirui 50mm F1.8 Anamorphic 1.33X lens is a stunner for its price. For the budget filmmaker — the one hoping to buy a car or a house, rather than a lens set — this manual focus APS-C format lens from Sirui is a great entry point into the inevitable obsession that is of the anamorphic image. Stop now, or recognize there will come a time when that 3-piece LOMO lens kit up on eBay will whisper “mortgage the home” into your ear when you thought you were sleeping.

What is anamorphic?

For the uninitiated: anamorphic lenses squeeze the horizontal bounds of…

Why Z CAM Flagship owners should buy the eND Module
Why Z CAM Flagship owners should buy the eND Module

Back in January, B&H listed the Z CAM eND Module for the flagship line of cameras from the company as available for preorder for $399. Available for the Z CAM S6, F6, F8, and M4, this module slips into the slot in front of the sensor and enables an electronically variable neutral density of 1.7 stops up to 6.7 stops much like the internal electronic ND of the Sony FX9.

Frustrated by the limitations of front-mounted variable circular ND filters and unaware of the coming pandemic, I ordered it along with the Z CAM HDMI 2.0 …

The Lift, Shift, and Delete video editing workflow
The Lift, Shift, and Delete video editing workflow

I bet every editor with a few years and several hundred videos behind them thinks they have developed the most efficient style of editing. Their file structures are perfect. Their naming conventions are consistent. Their mouse is bedazzled with a dozen macros color coded by LEDs specific to each NLE.

Why I jump in here is that I am not exactly like the editor described above. My experience is remote editing with cloud drives, shared projects, and multiple editors. It is quick turnarounds and ridiculously long interviews. …

Can the $60 IDX SL-F50 outlast the $120 Sony NP-F970?
Can the $60 IDX SL-F50 outlast the $120 Sony NP-F970?

If in the market for Sony L-Series batteries, there are a half dozen brands from which to choose. Sony sells their premium NP-F970 for a premium price of $120 while Anton Bauer, GVM, and, of course, Watson undercut that price with their own budget models. How they achieve the same capacity at a third the price is a mystery. Are they using lower quality cells and cheaper plastic? How does the quality control compare to that of Sony? When buying budget, the unease from these questions is part of the payment.

And then there is IDX System Technology, a brand…

Evan A Olson

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Writer. Cinematographer. Creative director. Camera enthusiast.

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