Black Magic Pocket

I’ve had a distaste for the Black Magic cameras since using the original cinema camera. I was tempted with the initial buzz of the pocket camera, but poor battery life and lens options deterred me to the mainstream.

Recently I had the chance to shoot a creative short film with one. The director of the project owned one and we decided to give it a go. Once caged up and accompanied by my SmallHD dp4 I could use it more effectively. The flat look that it displays was still difficult to focus with like using LOG on the Sony, but mostly everything was in focus. ;)

We shot in RAW or Cinema DNG format to give the most flexibility in post. We were using a Metabones speed booster converter to allow us to use Canon EF lenses. Primarily a Sigma 18-35 and an old NIKON 50mm. There was also a POLA filter and sometimes a vaseline filter on the lens.

I have to say the material looked pretty amazing once we got it into post and started applying different looks. Even simple BM to REC 709 looks gave it a very filmic-16mm-Ektachrome quality.

My initial bias aside I think it is a fine little camera. Maybe someday I’ll get to film with it again.

Here is a frame grab with the temp grade applied using Sigma lens at 35mm.
Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 8.48.08 AM

This is a frame grab of the close up using the Nikon 50mm. Lit with F&V z96 light.
Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 8.47.26 AM

new sony A7S mark II

So I’ve had the A7S mkII for a couple of weeks now. I’ve shot some tests and a couple of short doc style projects for clients. Using the sLog3 is kind of scary. I’ve read some things on various blogs and haven’t had a chance to thoroughly test it out. With the Fs7 I felt confident about shooting with it, but with only 8 bit I want to make sure I have the formula worked out. So far what do I like about it? Compared to the 5DmkIII it really is quite an upgrade (for motion). I like the 4K image, I like the 120fps (though I haven’t run it through the ringer). The menu is straight forward and really caters to the motion camera. The flip out screen is great. When paired with an external monitor the camera monitor goes black and still functions as a display of operations. It came with a cable clamp for the HDMI and various cables. made of cheap plastic, but I didn’t have to buy it as an add on. Though it should be noted a standard mini-plug may not quite fit in the mic or headphone jack.

What could use some work: Battery life is bad but not as bad as RED’s small volt batteries. various crop factors for 1080. So at 120fps it uses less of the sensor than at 24, 30, 60 fps. Ok, I live with it. It is better than 720P/60. The record trigger is odd. A tiny dot on the right side of the camera. It is not easily pressed by accident, so that is good, but it is hard to activate in a hand held operation. I’m looking for external trigger options.

So I think I like it and it will be a good camera for the next year or two. What comes next? Who knows, maybe Black Magic will finally make a camera worth buying.

new camera

So when Andrew Reed at EOSHD posted a first look at the Sony A7sMk2 I really did have to ask why am I still filming with the Canon 5Dk3? Decision has been made. Accessories ordered. Waiting to pick up the camera at a local retailer rather than order form B&H. So why now?
120fps, Slog3, 4K UHD

Sure it is still an 8bit small photo camera, but with those features for $3K, finally have to pull the trigger. The plan is to use the Wooden Camera cage I have for the 5D which will beef it up a little. I ordered the Metabones standard adaptor for use with full frame lenses. For High frame rate or cropped sensor material I already own the speed booster ultra so I can use that for those. I can also use the metabones standard adaptor with my Tokina 11-16 in crop mode. I’m looking forward to that.

Looking forward to checking out this new camera for real.

camera landscape

RED RAVEN, fs5, A7Smk2. Here we are with new cameras all coming in less expensive than predecessors and with features exceeding previous models. What an amazing time to be a filmmaker. But wait, did you just buy the A7s last week, or maybe you got the A7Rmk2 but really should have waited for the A7smk2. Why? The lower megapixel on the a7s makes it better for shooting video in low light. Both have sensor stabilization so it makes them very similar. If you plan on taking more high res stills then the R model will be your pick.
I think the fs5 is a great choice over the Canon C100mk2 because of slow mo burst, 4K and 10 bit 1080. I’m a little disappointed that the 4K material is 8 bit only, but concessions have to be made to make the budget and other factors.
RED RAVEN is another example of how RED doesn’t really understand the landscape or believes their customers will buy for name and hype. 6K for the body, 10K equipped. crop factors? lens mount? audio? I will say it again, for 10K you can have a Sony Fs7 shooting RAW and use any lens you choose. And have really good audio, shoot in prores or XAVC Log3, and built in ND filters. Sorry RED, looks like it is not for everyone.

new primes

Matthew Duclos has touted the Rokinon Cine primes since they debuted. Now they have rehoused the lenses and branded them as Xeen Cinema Primes. They have the physical look of a Zeiss CP2 or other large cinema lens with a price tag of $2500. So now you can get them in a variety of mounts and all that. Sounds great, anyone want to buy my used Cine DS primes?

puzzling cameras

Is it a bird? Is it a phone? No, it is a camera. The last few months we have seen some new cameras come on the market and as RED predicted a long time ago 4K is big. This week I’m thinking about this new little Sony that will be available soon. Here is the B&H link.

Sure it does 4K, but the remarkable thing that caught my eye is the High Frame rate. Like the Sony FS700 this thing can shoot 240fps, 480fps, and 960fps. Through whatever line doubling magic I’m sure the quality diminishes the higher you go like on the FS700, but for $1300 you have a tool in your bag that can shoot 240fps at 1080. Wow. Other features that are nice include a constant 2.8 through the zoom range and the ability to record in SLOG2.

It looks like they have limited 4K recording to 30fps. And it is a smaller than S35 sensor so depth of field characteristics will be a little more “video” like.

Something to keep our eyes on.

post NAB 2015 check in

This blog is gear centric because I’m a gear head though I don’t get to buy as much fun stuff as I used to I still pay attention to what is coming out, where things are going etc.

The first day of NAB had me pretty excited, just following Twitter, etc. BlackMagic throws down a bunch of stuff. DJI makes the RONIN lighter. A company called 3D robotics throws down with a pretty sweet drone (for those of us that don’t have the time to practice flying and crash a few). RED reveals their Weapon and confusing upgrade paths. Freefly has cool coptor thing to fly bigger cameras. I think there were some microphones the canon 4K offerings and I’m sure there was a lot more.

Tuesday left me with that feeling after gorging on Black Friday sales. Do I need any of this shit? Not to be too negative but events like NAB really drain the storytelling. That is what filmmaking is, right? I know it is a business and part of the business is making stuff that you need to buy to make the product. This post is really about not losing sight of why you are making films. 4K is great and maybe even necessary to remain competitive in this market for some projects. So I will continue the work until that new thing is indispensable and then it is time to buy.


But seriously Canon? $16K for a camera that isn’t even as good (specs and ergonomics) as the Sony Fs7.

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