Tag Archives: equipment

The Fig Rig

Check out The Fig Rig, a camera mounting apparatus designed by Mike Figgis for use on his whacky experimental film Hotel (and some others). It’s designed for use with small digital video cameras, but I find myself wondering if it might be useful for a still camera. :)

Actually, whatever the next DSLR I get will be, it’s almost certain to have video capability, so that would make something like this more useful. For a still camera, it would basically be just a stabilizing device, inferior to a solid tripod, but more convenient and easy to move. I wonder how well it would work, compared to just hand-holding the camera with VR on. The Manfrotto site has a video where Figgis demonstrates usage of the rig, including with a fairly long zoom lens. He uses his thigh to brace the bottom part of the rig just a little off the vertical, and uses that point as a pivot for a long shot as his actors move around. It’s quite interesting.

What does it cost? About US$300, and that’s just for the wheel part and some cable clips. A bit pricey, but if you consider what a halfway decent tripod and head costs, I guess it’s not that bad. However, since both hands are occupied with holding the rig during use, you’re going to probably need some remote control equipment too.

A pic, showing a Fig Rig with camera, mic and what I assume is a remote controller for the camera (small object on the upper left side of the wheel):

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Filed under brainstorming, photography

New equipment day

No, not new equipment for me, new equipment for Nikon. This was expected, at least for anyone “in the know”, or anyone like me who checks the Nikon Rumors site on a daily basis to see what’s up. :)

The new D3s camera body is a nice announcement, but not really relevant to me, as I doubt I’ll ever need a pro body like that. Of more interest is the announcement of a new 85mm macro lens. It’s a DX lens, f/3.5 and will supposedly cost $529 once it’s available.

I’ve been wondering what to do about the macro problem for a while now. Strictly speaking, I don’t need a macro lens, which is generally considered to be a lens capable of 1:1 magnification of the subject on the sensor. But I do find myself wanting something that’s good for photos of flowers and the occasional insect.

My original solution was to use the D40 kit lens at 55mm. This worked better before I lost autofocus capability on that lens (and is the main reason I am even bothering to think about getting it fixed at all). While I’ve been doing some recent experimenting with manual focus mode on that lens, I find that it’s generally pretty hard to focus it closely at 55mm, where the tolerance is so fine that slight waverings of my body as I stand can easily throw the subject out of focus.

The other alternative I currently have is to use my 18-200mm zoom at 200mm. It doesn’t magnify as much as the kit lens, but it’s adequate in some situations. Image quality is not as good as the kit lens, though.

All of this leads me to think that maybe a dedicated macro lens would work better, even if I don’t entirely need the 1:1 magnification. The problem is that the main offerings available for my camera were not exactly what I would have wanted. Nikon’s 60mm AF-S micro is a bit shorter than I would prefer (yes, it’s actually longer than my 55mm option, but doing macro work at those short shooting distances is not optimal—I’d prefer more distance). Nikon offers a 105mm AF-S micro which by all accounts is a pretty nice lens…except it costs $900, which is out of my price range for such a specialized application. The remaining micro lenses, prior to today, were not AF-S lenses, which would mean manual focus only. Sometimes autofocus really does help, such as one occasion recently when I was laying flat on my belly photographing a caterpillar. Caterpillars move surprisingly fast, when viewed from the perspective of keeping a macro shot in focus. :)

In any case, there is now a new AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR lens to consider. If the price manages to drop below $500, it’ll end up being a very appealing choice. It won’t be at the top of my “want” list, but it’ll be there, probably right below the 10-24mm zoom and above the 10.5mm fisheye. :)

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Filed under Nikon, photography