A Fatboy and a Scout walked into a bar, but did anybody hear?

A Fatboy and a Scout walked into a bar, but did anybody hear?

Recently I finally had a chance to meet and chat with two wonderful UK unit stills photographer compadres, Liam Daniel (IMDB) and Giles Keyte (IMDB | Web Site).

Over a couple of hours we covered off on a range of topics relevant to camera nerds and unit photographers alike, but none so intriguing nor contentious as the side-by-side comparison of Aquatech and Fatboy sound blimps.

The short story is: Both products are excellent. Either will be welcome on any film set. The Fatboy is cheaper, but the Aquatech is slightly quieter. The real story, is more complicated.

The consensus among the three of us is that, were it economically practical you’d have one of each. The long version is that there are positives and negatives to both products. Read on for an epic geek out on the question of Fatboy vs Aquatech
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  • Simon Ridgway - July 7, 2014 - 10:25 am

    Great information. I’ve got a very old, very beat up Jacobson and have been considering the Aquatech, but the Fatboy looks good.

    So the question I have is, how does the sound damping of the Fatboy compare to a Jacobson? I’ve not had any problem so far with the Jacobson being too loud, so if the Fatboy can match it, then that would be enough for me!

    Thanks,
    Simon

  • PSbyAY - July 7, 2014 - 3:41 pm

    Good Question, Simon. I’m told the Fatboy’s sound dampening is comparable to the Jacobson. Unfortunately we weren’t able to include one in our comparison on the day so I can’t speak for the Jacobson personally in relation to the Fatboy.

  • Larry Horricks - July 14, 2014 - 8:39 pm

    Hello lads…seems like good way to pass some time and have a few pints. Wish I was there. I have never laid my hands on an Aquatech but I find my Fatboy somewhat less quiet than my old Jacobson. That being said I would never go back…there are many things to like about the Fatboy….love the quick release tube clamps, the overall ergonomics,weight,viewfinder,like that I can just slide my camera body in without messing with a cable connection…so I would say I’m quite satisfied with the Fatboy. I have my the depth of field preview button on my 5D mkIII programmed to toggle back and forth between servo focus and regular autofocus so it would be great if Tamas could design a button on the front that would allow me to use this vital function while the camera is blimped. Its very useful to able to track a moving subject with servo then revert to regular autofocus when the subject is no longer moving…I use this al the time shooting scenes.

    Well good shooting chaps…maybe we should have a meet up in Prague or Budapest.

    Cheers
    Larry

  • Bill Matlock - July 15, 2014 - 1:50 pm

    I bought my Fatboy a little over a year ago and have never looked back. Have shot features, television and a few stage productions with never a problem. I still have my Jacobsen (2 button version) but only keep it as a back-up in case a complete disaster strikes the Fatboy. As for relative silence, while I’ve read a couple of comments about the Jacobsen being marginally quieter, I’ve run several informal tests with sound guys on set and if there’s a difference, so far we haven’t heard it. Almost forgot, I shoot with the Canon 5D MKII

  • PSbyAY - July 15, 2014 - 2:32 pm

    Bill, thanks for piping up! I’m glad to know you’re having a good experience with the Fatboy and appreciate you providing your thoughts! I do hope to do a relatively scientific test at some point across all three, but it can be very hard to get so many blimp owners together at the same time! Angus

  • Simon Ridgway - July 15, 2014 - 10:23 pm

    Good to hear the positive comments about the Fatboy. definitely on my wish list. And good that i can use the tubes I already have for the Jacobson! just wish the Fatboy allowed you to scroll through images on the screen – I believe the aquatech allows this?

  • PSbyAY - July 16, 2014 - 8:56 am

    My Aquatech Version 2 has three controls:

    1. Two button electronic shutter trigger on the front
    2. Image Playback
    3. Dial to adjust aperture via the quick control dial (the bit around the “Set” button)

    Aquatech did scale back the number of exterior controls based on user feedback.
    Angus

Aquatech's "Scout" 5D Mark 3 Sound blimp with BT-145 Tube

Aquatech’s “Scout” 5D Mark 3 Sound blimp with BT-145 Tube

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L has been a very topical issue for blimp makers and users alike. The second version (and current) 24-70mm f/2.8L was released in 2012 and is a massive step up in optical performance for this workhorse of a lens. Because of the fact that this new version is physically longer when set to longer focal lengths than when set to wider focal lengths any blimp tube has to vary in length accordingly to avoid massive vignetting.

Aquatech’s BT-145 lens tube is designed to solve the problem created by the new 24-70mm lens design. There have been a few users struggling a little with how to set it up so that the BT-415 tube will reliably zoom in and out. I consulted with Aquatech who gave me the following advice:

  1. Ensure that the rubber zoom ring is pushed as far forward on the lens zoom ring as possible without going past it.
  2. Screw the back part of the BT-145 onto the blimp
  3. Gently push the front element of the tube into place and twist so as to push the front element of the 24-70mm lens as deep into the foam as possible
  4. Apply gentle pressure to the back of the camera (with the blimp back open) as you push and twist

You can also watch this video I put together to see the best way I’ve come up with to make the BT-145 work with my 24-70mm Version 2.

AT24-70 from Angus Young on Vimeo.

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My good friend and superstar director, Lewis Arnold nominated me to The Reinvention Diva Magazine. It’s not your average artist interview.

Click to jump to the interview

Click the image above to jump to the interview

You’ll also get a first look at three of my stills from films I’m very proud to have been involved in:
Orbit Ever After, No Logo Films’ British Film Institute funded (and Bafta nominated) film featuring Mackenzie Crook and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.
The Fitzroy the Dresden Pictures post-apocalyptic film starring Cerith Flynn
Two Missing the Parkville Pictures thriller starring Morfydd Clark and Sophie Kennedy Clark

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With thanks to Aquatech USA and their UK Distributor Fixation UK I have just received the latest version of the already highly regarded Aquatech sound blimp for the Canon 5D Mark III. I have been using the first generation blimp for 12 months now and aside from a few niggles, I have found it to be an exceptional tool – so I was very excited to see how they would improve on an already great product.


Did you notice in the last two comparison images how much better the newer version fits in my hand? It is much more comfortable and far less cumbersome.

There are a number of key changes in the new version and these include:

  • Dual shutter controls, one to focus, and one to release the shutter – I’m already finding these buttons easier to use than those of the earlier version
  • Taller profile, only slightly, but definitely taller
  • Larger diameter lens tubes – this means that your version 1 tubes and lens tube hoods will not work with the version 2 blimp but it’s now easier to slide your finger in to release the lens for quicker changes
  • Version 2 is noticeably shallower, front to back making it much more ergonomically comfortable in the hand, easier to get the camera in and out of too.
  • New black clip replacing the shiny (reflective) metal clip to seal the blimp. The new one is more adjustable and feels easier to use
  • Fewer rear camera controllers – only the playback and control wheel remain
  • user-replaceable shutter controls and shutter connection cable
  • Back plate is now predominantly matte black – again, less reflective
  • Slightly lighter

Overall, I love the improvements. Despite the marginal weightloss, the version two feels (from limited on set use) far easier to use for longer periods. I’m really looking forward to continuing to use this blimp on set over the coming months.

For more of my thoughts and discussion of sound blimps, check out Tech Talk 26 and Tech Talk 15.

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  • Anne Marie Fox - July 17, 2013 - 7:16 pm

    Great analysis of the AquaTech blimp. Are they Nikon compatible?

  • PSbyAY - July 18, 2013 - 8:19 am

    Hi Anna, thanks for the question. They do versions for Nikon, yes.

20130327-191048.jpg

Earlier this year I was asked to shoot stills for Noah and the Whale’s (www.noahandthewhale.com) ambitious science fiction film Heart of Nowhere. This film was produced by Parkville Pictures (www.parkvillepictures.com) and directed by lead singer Charlie Fink. The whole of Noah and the Whale’s line-up are featured throughout the film.

Despite the cold locations of the east of London this was a brilliant project to work on with some incredibly talented film makers and cast including Toby Regbo, Bill Millner, Josh Bolt and Anna Hogarth.

Here’s your first taste of this film in Noah and the Whale’s beautiful first single: There Will Come A Time.

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