Cinetics Cine System
Not too long ago, we posted an article featuring the top Kickstarter projects in the photography realm. Though many of the inventions were or are still seeking crowd-funded financial backing, a few made it into the limelight. Justin Jensen's CineSkates camera dolly system was one of them, garnering enough interest and capital to send the product to major retailers. Shortly after our Kickstarter article was published, Justin contacted me about reviewing his Cine System, which includes the CineSkates dolly and CineSquid suction cup mounts. I was keen to see how it performed, and in this review I'll be taking you through the system and how it works.
The Cine System begins with the CineSkates dolly system, designed for seamless panning of DSLRs, Camcorders and smartphones. CineSkates is composed of a Joby Gorillapod Focus tripod with Ballhead X head mounted to three rugged plastic cups on top of what are basically skateboard wheels, aptly named CineSkates. Jensen went with Bones metal bearings, which are some of the highest quality bearings on the market. I know this because I have experimented with several inline skate bearings over the years and ended up relying on Bones for the smoothest, fastest and most durable ride.
The skateboard wheels actually feature ruler marks for rotating the system consistently during time-lapse photography. Also included with the CineSkates is the SkatePlate, which is a triangular base for the Gorillapod to sit atop to raise the height of the camera and provide added stability. The Ballhead X can also be connected to the base of the SkatePlate for an ultra low point of view, foregoing the use of the tripod entirely. The CineSkates system can support up to 2.3kg (5 lbs.).
|The recommended setup of the CineSkates dolly system using the smartphone adapter to mount an iPhone 5.||The SkatePlate adds rigidity and height to the CineSkates system, and is adjustable.|
I tested the CineSkates system with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and 24-105mm lens on a variety of surfaces. Each individual wheel has the capability of spinning a full 360-degree revolution. This way, all three wheels can be setup for moving the tripod in a curve (arcing), panning horizontally and moving toward or away from a subject rather quickly (tracking). In order to configure a particular camera path with the CineSkates system, I had to rotate the wheels accordingly. For instance, to get an even horizontal pan, I had to align all three wheels parallel to one another. For arcing shots, I had to angle the front two wheels and leave the rear wheel perpendicular to the center axis. Rotating all three wheels in relation to the center axis allowed for spinning shots around a fixed fulcrum. One caveat I found with the CineSkates system is that the wheels must be angled correctly when using the setup without the SkatePlate, or you'll lose that fluid motion.
Once I was able to dial in the CineSkates system, I was pleasantly surprised. On smooth floor surfaces such as finished concrete or laminate flooring, I was able to pan seamlessly without any compromising shake. Because the wheels are small, I found that I had to adequately clean the floor surface before using the CineSkates system. The reason is that even the smallest particle of dirt can cause a bump in the road. So, on a well cleaned, smooth surface, the CineSkates system performed exceptionally, thanks to the rigidity of the system and buttery smoothness of the Bones bearings. Tight, intimate shots are ideal with the CineSkates system, as well as capturing home interiors or outdoor landscapes by setting up on a counter top or bench. My favorite shots were fast zooms, achieved by thrusting the system forward and landing a few inches away from the subject. With a wide-angle lens, the effect was even more exciting. The versatility of such a small and affordable dolly system will be hugely attractive to budget filmmakers who don't have the funds or space to hire a Hollywood-grade rig.
|The CineSkates system relies on high quality Bones bearings for a smooth ride.|
Here's the obvious con of the CineSkates system. Rough surfaces, such as weathered asphalt, gravel and any textured floor are out of the question. This is because of the size of the system's skateboard wheels. The wheels are very small, and this amplifies any small bumps into problematic jolts and jittering in the final footage. Because of this, the CineSkates system is really only destined for specialty shots, but with a little creativity, that potential can be stretched. For instance, if a shot needs to be made way out in the woods, a small platform could be made with a smooth surface on top. Yes, it will add to the transportation load, but it shows that there are ways to increase the versatility of the CineSkates system. Just don't expect to obtain the sort of results you'll get from a professional dolly system with inflatable tires and a motor.
The other half of the Cine System is composed of the CineSquid mounts. These are three high quality suction cups that attach to the ends of the Gorillapod legs for securing the rig on glass surfaces. The obvious advantage of the CineSquid system is the ability to mount to vehicle windows and shoot panning landscapes or point-of-view traveling shots. This is a huge bonus, and a must for shooters who want the added versatility. What I liked most about the CineSquid system was that I could slap the setup onto any medium sized or larger window and orient the camera at unique angles. This was particularly useful for getting bird's eye view shots in a room and other unconventional angles.
|Here's the CineSquid system mounted on a window. After several hours, this rig was still firmly planted.||Need some landscape b-roll? The CineSquid system will mount to your vehicle and stay put.|
I was almost more impressed with the CineSquid system than I was with the CineSkates setup. In order to test the rig, I suctioned my Canon EOS 5D Mark III to a large window in my house and let it sit for three hours. When the time was up, I grabbed each leg of the tripod and yanked firmly. All three suction cups were still firmly affixed to the window, as the glass window caved slightly with each tug. I then suctioned the setup to the windshield and driver's side window of my truck and took a drive. Some of the roads I drove on were asphalt, some were dirt, some were gravel. Of course, being in New England, potholes are a common occurrence, so I had to deal with some relatively rugged terrain at times.
For the most part, the footage was impressively smooth and jitter-free, but of course there are a myriad of variables. For one, I have a truck with generous suspension - I would probably have seen very different results in a car designed for city driving. In addition, I deliberately kept my driving smooth and controlled, and my speed was always kept under the limit on slow back roads. I recommend traveling slower anyway, for footage can always be sped up in post, and at wide angles, footage always looks like it was filmed at faster speeds than it was.
The main point of the test - the CineSquid's ability to remain attached to my vehicle - was achieved. I will admit, I was quite concerned connecting a $4,000 camera system to the windshield of my truck, but fretted no more when I pulled over and yanked on the suction cups, to find they were just as firmly attached as when I first mounted them. I also received a few priceless looks from rubberneckers, I guess because seen from a distance, the CineSquid system looks rather like a giant spider attacking the vehicle. After spending quality time with the CineSquid system, I was very impressed and I'm pretty confident that it would be a valuable addition to any budget filmmaker's tool belt.
Test Video (zooming, panning, rotating, and driving with CineSquid)
Throughout my tests with the Cine System, it became apparent that Mr. Jensen has poured a hefty amount of time and research into its creation. While the system may seem simple - a trio of skateboard wheels and suction cups - they can be used in numerous environments and shooting locations. The CineSkates and CineSquid systems compliment each other nicely, and users will find which scenarios fit which system the best over time. Most importantly, this stuff is solid and well-made. Suction cups remained firmly planted, wheels glided seamlessly across smooth surfaces, and the Gorillapod Focus tripod with Ballhead X coped easily with the weight of my 5D Mark III. While the Cine System may not attract big Hollywood cinematographers, it will certainly find ample space in the budget filmmaker and TV producer genre.
What we like: Numerous uses, budget friendly for low cost productions, structurally sound, invites creativity without massive cost
What we don't like: Surfaces must be perfectly smooth for CineSkates to work optimally, limiting usefulness outdoors, and wheels must be carefully aligned for smooth panning when Skateplate is not used
Mike Perlman is a freelance photographer and writer, based in Bar Harbor, Maine. After a spell reviewing camcorders at Camcorderinfo.com, Mike moved to infoSync World as the Senior Photography Editor, before taking up a role at TechnoBuffalo.com as the head of the Photography department. These days, Mike runs his own photography business and contributes to dpreview between shoots.
70-200mm F4 zoom lenses may not get as much attention as their faster F2.8 siblings, but for many photographers these lenses hit the perfect sweet spot of price, performance, and weight. This week, we go to the Calgary Stampede with the Canon 70-200mm F4, Nikon 70-200mm F4, and Tamron 70-210mm F4.
Blackmagic recently worked with Apple to develop Blackmagic eGPU, an external GPU that brings "desktop-class graphics performance" to the new MacBook Pro laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Lightroom alternative Luminar has received numerous updates across both its Mac and Windows versions, primarily improvements to existing features, as well as support for additional cameras from Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, and Pentax.
Sony has quietly updated its RX100 V, bringing a couple of the goodies from the RX100 VI travel zoom. The updated RX100 VA gains a new processor and various firmware tweaks but misses out on the VI's other hardware improvements.
Apple has updated its MacBook Pro series of notebooks with 15in and 13in models that are claimed to be better for intense image and video editing. The company says the new models are the most advanced ever, and that they feature 8th generation Intel Core processors for faster performance.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Adobe will announce a full-fledged Photoshop version for the iPad at its annual conference in October.
The last day to place an order for Apple photo prints and related products is September 30th.
Manfrotto has launched its new Noreg camera bag series with the Backpack-30 and Messenger-30 models. Both bags are designed for premium mirrorless camera systems, each featuring internal camera units that can be removed and used independently of the larger bags.
Industrial designer Thomas Müller has created a concept device that attempts to democratize film development using an all-in-one device that sits on your countertop.
Mastin Labs has released its latest set of presets titled 'Kodak Everyday.' The pack includes film emulation presets for iconic Kodak films, including Ektar, Gold and Tri-X.
Canon has released firmware update 1.0.4 for the EOS 6D Mark II, adding important bug fixes for "rare instances" of issues with the touch panel and operation buttons.
In an email to DPReview, Nikon Inc. has confirmed ''The Nikon 1 series cameras, lenses and accessories are no longer in production'.
Nikon's new Coolpix P1000 boasts an extraordinary zoom range and a suite of powerful stills and video features in a (relatively) compact body. We're taking a detailed look at this powerful compact's key features.
PhotoMirage, a new Windows application from software company Corel, transforms images into "mirages" by adding movement to elements like water or clouds. Unlike a cinemagraph, it does not require video footage – instead animating a single static image.
Tamron's version 2.0 firmware update for its 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD claims to have addressed reported issues with autofocus during video shooting.
Lens maker Moment is leaning into the software sector, launching a newly-revamped smartphone camera app targeted at enthusiast photographers.
A groups of researchers from NVIDIA, MIT, and Aalto University have developed an AI capable of removing noise and grain from images with incredible accuracy.
If the 24-2000mm equiv. zoom range on Nikon's Coolpix P900 just wasn't enough then you'll be excited about today's announcement of the Coolpix P1000. This camera has a once unthinkable 24-3000mm equivalent F2.8-F8 lens, though it's anything but light and will set you back $999.
Hong Kong flash system manufacturer Cactus has released new firmware for its V6 II Transceiver that will allow it to wirelessly communicate TTL information between a Canon or Cactus flash and a Canon camera. The X-TTL update makes it possible to trigger Canon flashes and retain full TTL control with that flash either on or off camera.
Want to create pro quality lighting for your videos, but don't have thousands of dollars to spend on expensive video lights? In this video, our friends over at ShareGrid demonstrate how to professionally light a model with some work lights, a bit of poster board and even a shower curtain.
Phase One has launched its new Latitude processing presets series, the latest addition to the company's Capture One Style Packs product launched last year. Both Latitude style packs contain eight presets, each with original, bright, and dark variations, for a total of 24 styles per pack.
Godox has announced the impending launch of its upcoming AD400Pro, a 400WS monolight with wireless shooting capabilities and a battery life of 390 full-powered flashes.
The instant camera market is heating up, and with four formats and 15+ cameras to choose from, we felt it was high time to examine them all and pick our favorite.
There's an old axiom in filmmaking which states that an audience will forgive a poor quality picture, but not poor quality sound. This week, Chris and Jordan bring in an audio pro to demonstrate why a cheap microphone positioned correctly will outperform an expensive model placed incorrectly.
With enough reach to land itself in 'travel zoom' territory, the Sony RX100 VI is well suited for a wide range of shooting situations. We've made a significant update to our initial sample gallery with plenty of samples from the past few weeks.
Hamm Camera Company has launched its second crowdfunding campaign to bring a fun, affordable pinhole camera to life.
Samsung's upcoming flagship smartphone could offer a significantly wider zoom range than current high-end models.
According to the lawsuit, the US Postal Service issued a new Forever Stamp design in December 2010 that mistakenly features the Statue of Liberty replica in Las Vegas created by Davidson rather than the original statue in New York.
Rachel and Daniel of Mango street share six video transitions you can do in-camera to make your footage stand out.