How a Ukranian-trained pharmacist came to the U.S. and — after stints as a Comcast technician, graphic artist and photographer — ended up a full-time inventor and creator of the Beastgrip Pro, now on Kickstarter.
In the days before the Canon 5D Mark II arrived in 2008, videographers wanting shallow depth of field relied on 35mm adapters. Companies like RedRock Micro, Letus and Cinemek designed these devices to sit between the lens on something like the Panasonic DVX100 on the one hand, and usually a Canon or Nikon still lens on the other.
Inside the adapter was a ground glass upon which the image from the 35mm lens would be thrown. Sometimes the ground glass was static; often it would spin courtesy of a battery-powered motor. The video camera focused on the ground glass, and suddenly there it was: cinematically shallow depth of field (along with pretty dramatic light loss).
The video DSLR revolution changed all that, of course, and this particular kind of product – the 35mm adapter –faded into relative obscurity.
But now the 35mm adapter is back, designed – of all things – for smartphones.
We spoke with Vadym Chalenko, the creator of the original Beastgrip rig and lens adapter for smartphones – and now the Beastgrip Pro and Beastgrip DOF Adapter.
Vadym tells me about starting with an idea, a single 3D printer and free 3D modeling software called Autodesk 123. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says, “but I knew injection molding was too expensive.”
But that didn’t stop him from eventually coming up with Beastgrip, which he assembled from aluminum tubing and parts he 3D-printed at home. He launched a Kickstarter campaign in the fall of 2013, and he did well: with 546 backers, he achieved 158% of his funding goal.
Beastgrip was born.
And with it, dozens of small changes as the feedback poured in from his customers. 3D printing was great for that, but it also turned out to be difficult to scale production, handle the increasingly complex geometry of the product and have the robustness that he wanted. The idea of injection molding resurfaced.
Nor did he anticipate the number of people who asked him about his DIY depth of field adapter shown on his original Kickstarter pages. What began as “how do you do that?” quickly morphed into hundreds of emails asking, “can you do that for me?”
Thus Vadym has returned to Kickstarter for his second act, the revamped Beastgrip Pro and his new DOF adapter.
It’s a wonderful way to raise funds – and a compelling test of how well the products are likely to be received in the marketplace.
There are other competitors out there who make smartphone rigs or lens adapters, but Vadym displays a quiet confidence about the quality of his new rig and the images his DOF adapter can produce. He uses a multi-element, custom-built 10x macro lens with static ground glass. “This reduces barrel distortion and means less vignetting, though it’s not perfect” he adds candidly.
Even as it did take him “a hundred revisions” of his DOF adapter to get this point.
This time around, not only is he using injection molding, but he’s teamed up with a “real engineer,” he smiles, for injection molding. “He used to work for Bosch, Diebold – he has 20+ years experience. A really good guy.”
We never got around to the question of diminishing returns – at what point does it make sense to simply switch to a dedicated camera – but I suspect that conversation will rage on well beyond the bounds of Beastgrip Pro, the Beastgrip DOF adapter, and certainly this post.
As our interview ends, Vadym pauses to reflect.
“I didn’t know I liked to invent things. But I do.”
We are rooting for Vadym. For those of you interested in supporting the campaign, you’ll find it here. [bctt tweet=”Beastgrip Pro and DOF Adapter turn smartphones into video beasts”]
Beastgrip Pro: the world's best camera rig for smartphones
After our original Beastgrip was launched on Kickstarter back in 2013, our customers were able to test it in real world scenarios and give us vital feedback. We listened. Almost every component was redesigned to improve functionality, adaptability and the manufacturing process. Now it’s stronger, more functional and easier to use with any phone. Set it up exactly how you want. Transforms from a basic tripod mount to a full-featured professional rig in no time.
We believe the Beastgrip Pro will be the best and most versatile tool in the world for mobile photographers and videographers.
Learn more about this at their Kickstarter Campaign “Beastgrip Pro: the world's best camera rig for smartphones”
Beastgrip Pro User Guide
Beastgrip Pro is compatible with virtually any smartphone on the market*. Check your phone dimensions (with or without protective case) also position of the camera module as shown on image below to make sure it's compatible with Beastgrip Pro. We think it is.
* There are few phone models such as LG G Flex (curved shape with button on the back panel) and LG G2 (with button on the back panel) which will fit in to clamps properly, but can't be align perfectly with lens mount because of the shape and/or button on the back panel.
*Nokia Lumia 1520 can be used with Beastgrip Pro, only handle on the lens mount assembly has to be removed to align lens mount with 1520's camera properly.
*If you have a bulky protective case and have any doubts if it will fit properly, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will be more than happy to assist you.
See complete Beastgrip Pro User Guide Here.
Beastgrip DOF (Depth of Field) Adapter
The Beastgrip DOF adapter allows you to use some SLR lenses with your camera phone to achieve a shallow depth of field, similar to a DSLR camera. Please note: Using a DOF adapter is not simply “point and shoot” capable; it takes time and practice to achieve the desired effect. Beastgrip DOF adapters are designed and built to achieve the best possible results.
The Beastgrip DOF adapter is made of a tube with an SLR mount ring (Canon EF mount) on one side and a set of macro lenses on the other. Inside of the tube is a focusing screen mounted on a focusing screen holder. The SLR lens projects the image onto the focusing screen, allowing the camera phone to frame the intermediate screen by focusing in macro mode. The principle is similar to pointing a camera at a movie screen. The phone camera's only responsibility at this point is to record what is being projected onto the focusing screen. Additional information on DOF adapters and how they work can be found on wikipedia.
See Complete Beastgrip DOF (Depth of Field) Adapter User Manual Here.
Morning Snow. Shot on iPhone 6 Plus and Beastgrip Pro with DOF adapter
Via Youtube Desription:
Emmet Duffy, Junebug, Timmy Johnson. Video shot on iPhone with Beastgrip Pro
Via Youtube Desription:
Filmed with iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus mounted on Beastgrip Pro. We also used Beastgrip DOF adapter with Nikkor f1.4 50mm lens, Neewer wide angle, fisheye and baby death fisheye lenses, Olloclip for iPhone 5/5s, and moment wide angle lens.
(cover photo credit: snap from Beastgrip)
And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
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