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NAB 2015 – International Cinematographers Guild Tour

Stephen Lighthill, ASC, inspects new Canon lenses at NAB 2015.

Stephen Lighthill, ASC, kicked off the ICG’s annual NAB tour by reminding the attendees to keep an open mind.

“There is a cliché that NAB is like a toy store. The stuff is here if you have a good use,” said Lighthill. “Look at it and decide ‘What problem does this solve for me?’”

Lighthill, along with camera technologist Andy Romanoff, led a group of roughly 40 DPs, producers and other camera aficionados on a two and a half hour tour through the expo’s Central Hall, focusing on camera gear, lenses, lighting and accessories that DPs should have on their wish list. What follows are highlights from each stop made during the tour.


Drones were a big draw at NAB 2015. DGI’s Phantom 3 UDI came highly recommended by Lighthill. The device has a 4K camera, weighs around three pounds and is extremely stable. It has auto, manual or dual operation, and is capable of withstanding 50 mph wind gusts. The Phantom came equipped with a video demo of the drone being flown over an exploding volcano – a situation that would prove far too dangerous for a helicopter to fly over.


Lighthill admitted Panasonic was coming “late to the party” but informed the attendees the equipment the company was producing was worth their full attention. Their cameras have made rapid improvements in capturing a range of natural skin tones and developing efficient workflows. The camera that was called out during the group’s stop at the Panasonic booth was the 4K 35PL. Footage can be recorded in 1080 2K or 4K, preventing the user from being locked into one format.


While everyone on the tour was familiar with the prime lenses, Leica was presenting a new camera at the 2015 NAB show. It is a digital medium format camera that has a HD and 4K video window along with a 25 EPS frame rate external HD.


Rosco has been providing backdrops for over 30 years and announced some new innovations at this year’s NAB that would affect shipping and quality of their product. Responding to issues of extreme shine, a matte cloth material is now being used, allowing DPs to shoot a shot less than average. They’ve been redesigned making them easier to hang as well as ship (the unwieldy 40’ tubes are no longer required), and are all made out of a water-base fabric, making the product eco-friendly.


The group made a quick stop to look at the company’s latest 50’ crane, a piece of equipment that Lighthill dubbed “amazing technology.”


A highlight at this year’s Canon booth were the pro zoom lenses, included the T-5. The lens (there are only two in the world currently) features a 50-1,000 zoom. The Canon crew put a stuffed monkey in the rafters at a two –mile mark in the exhibit hall and used this focal point as an example to highlight the amazing focusing powers of this lens. The lens goes for the subtle price tag of $78,000. Amongst the new cameras on display was the XC-10, a small 4K hand-held camera “It’s like a Go-Pro on steroids,” said Lighthill.


Joining the small camera trend, Arri presented the Alexa 365 and the Alexa 2XT amongst its line of improvements. The greatest benefit of the Alexa camera family is the ability to be cut footage from each camera together seamlessly. The company also introduced a Wi-Fi interface that allowed camera information to be changed from a iPad “This will help make the DITs job a lot easier,” said Lighthill.

Arri also offered a few new lights to their array of products, including the L10, an LED fresnel and the Sky Panel, an ultra-bright LED soft light. With a remote phosphor construction, color panels can be switched out of the casing easily.


While no particular piece of equipment was discussed on this stop, Lighthill wanted to remind the tour attendees that Matthews is the master in the propriety grip equipment world.


For individuals shooting on location – especially a challenging location – the Prime Location light is a must have. It is a nine pound piece of equipment that can withstand rain, sand storms, even hurricanes. It does not require fans to cool its system and is powered by a V-lock battery. Tiffen also presented the TL1, a handheld battery operated focusing fresnel.


The tour wrapped at BandPro, a “multi-product Vendor Source” (not a rental house.) In addition to cameras, cranes and storage devices, the company was highlighting adaptors that have universal mounts and help to correct depth of field for tight shots.

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