I’ve had a crush on them cam since before it was released. Two years ago, I played with one at their NAB booth. Then I meet a chap out in California who had one he’d rent me. Now I need something to shoot. I got things set up with a local coffee roaster I’ve been wanting to do a shoot with- a combo of biographical and topical. I rented the gear to give me a day’s leeway to do some shooting and simple workflow stuff. I also wanted to try out Duclos Lenses’ 11-16 f/2.8 lens (a completely re-worked Tokina 11-16). After talking about the S16 size of the Ikonoskop’s lens, Matthew suggested that this would be close to a perfect lens for the camera. He wasn’t wrong and this where I’ll start.
Duclos Lenses 11-16 f/2.8
A camera’s images are only going to be as good as your lens allows. Shooting RAW will reveal all the details and the details you want are your subject, not the lens. This lens gives you all of that wonderful subject detail. It’s range is 11-16 so not a big zoom range. However, I found it’s focal range perfect for this camera. I could shoot a subject at 16 and still be close enough to get great camera-mounted shotgun audio and good DOF (depending on how far away from the background I was obviously). At f/2.8, it wasn’t the fastest or the brightest but I was planning for this and brought along my two Fotodiox adjustable temp lights which put out enough light to make everything look nice (again, not a pro DoP here but I can get by). I was genuinely surprised at the clarity of my final images. Skin tones were smooth, colors were crisp and everything just looked tasty. I know an inferior lens wouldn’t represent these things nearly as well.
Ergonomically, the lens was outstanding on the camera. I mounted it positioned so my lens markings were visible with my left why while my right eye was looking through the viewfinder. I couldn’t ask for better placement! I could see and adjust every setting without taking the camera from my face. I didn’t use a follow focus and just adjusted things by hand as I prefer that. The camera’s ergonomic design (more detail in another post) really contributed to this but I couldn’t help but think these two were destined for each other but just hadn’t met until now.
This lens will be my go-to lens for the ACam dII everytime. And definitely premium choice for wide angles on other cameras.
Ikonoskop A-cam dII
Aside from its design, one of the dII’s charms for me was it’s simplicity. There are only five menus options and they only go 1 level deep. Two of those five were maintenance and setup and one was to view your recorded clips. There was nothing to tweak, check or get confused or lost in. You turn it on, set your frame rate and shutter, add gain if you need it and hit record. For me, the camera got out of the way and allowed me to focus on my subject. I just loved that.
Interestingly, while I had a 4″ TV Logic monitor, I preferred using the viewfinder. This is interesting to me because normally I hate viewfinders. That might be because of crappy positioning on a camera. This position made sense. The external OLED was nice as my interviewee could check out the framing.
Audio was stereo XLR to Lemo. Easy for me since I plugged my Sennheiser 8060 into my Sound Devices MixPre D, and plugged the XLR to Lemo from that to the camera. Done. I monitored off the camera and checked VU levels through the external monitor. I got the levels set between the MixPre and the camera so my MixPre levels accurately represented what was going to the camera. The majority of the time, I had the mic mounted to the to Wooden Camera top handle although it could easily be mounted directly to the top of the dII.
Moving the camera around as a one man show was easy, quick and light.
After I got the files transferred to my working drive, I created a new matching folders for my audio. I opened Ikonoskop’s batch audio stripping tool and pulled the audio from each group of sequences (I had multiple sequences in a given folder) into the matching audio folder as .BWF files which also retains the timecode.
Next, all the clips get pulled in to Resolve and the grade starts, then when something happy comes out of that, I’ll bring the clips into Premiere as offline files and set to work editing. It’s an easy timeline to Resolve link back to the online files for finishing.
I love this camera, plain and simple. The RAW files are 2048 x 1092 and look outstanding with a 2.35:1 crop (1 pixel shy of 2K super 35 aka: 2049 x 872) or even 1920 x 1080. You can hit all your other 2K Super resolutions which are 2048. Either way, you come away with fantastic results given your lens is quality.
My minimal doc kit fits in my Cinebags Revolution backpack with plenty of room to spare. The rest can go in checked luggage. I can be up and shooting in seconds and that’s with camera off. For cinema quality (in this case, 2K DCI delivery spec), this is just an outstanding option I’ll be using for all my doc work moving forward.
PS: I’m happy to report that while not optimal when you have RAW, the SDI output is completely useable with care.
Quick grade before editing (Resolve DPX to PNG though doesn’t look nearly as good here though)