Who buys a two year old camera? (18 months technically) I guess I do.
You see these days there are two types of digital cinema (video) cameras. There is the compact, affordable, feature changing type like the Sony A7 line, or the slow to deliver Canon 5D line. And there is the high end stuff. Arri Alexa has a 8 year old sensor. Still working very hard. The MX sensor in the RED one is still amazing. ( the 2 minute boot time is not )
So why is it these high-end cameras have stabilized? Firmware. Recently the school I teach at just got a Sony F55. With new firmware the camera can record at higher bit rates, unlock high speed settings that weren’t available when the camera was released. Now the Fs7 I bought is not an F55, but as Alister Chapman has pointed out the Fs7 does 95% of of what the F5/F55 does. For me that is pretty awesome.
It has been confusing over the last few years understanding who is doing what after the image is captured. This article does a nice job of explaining it.
I was thinking earlier today about what is going to drop at NAB in April. With a new camera every year from BlackMagic I feel this year will be no different. Now that they have their sensor sourcing figured out and in camera card formatting and firmware updated the next camera will be more refined building on what they have learned. I believe they will release a super 35 sensor 3.2K “pocket” camera. Maybe the form factor will be slightly chunkier depending on the card the decide on. They like off the shelf SD, SSD, etc, but maybe the will take the leap to CFast as ARRI has. Either way it will give the GH4 a run for the money and perhaps not be as awkward as their other offerings.
The Canon c300 mk2 is obvious, but what it will hold is up in the air. 4K? price? slow motion? I think the other rumor floating around about Canon dropping something below the c100 to give the GH4 some competition is interesting. 4K with dual pixel for under $1500? SOLD! fixed lens? maybe not.
RED will have the circus around their update. Do you really need it?
Stabilizers. I hope to see some more innovation rather than just copies of the MOVI and RONIN. I do think with the recent price drop of the Ronin that DJI is clearing inventory for another version of the Ronin. Lighter? yes please, this guy is a beast even with a 5D on it. A smaller version to hold A7s, GH4 and other smaller cameras? Could be.
I am still very interested in the HELIX from Letus but at the price point it is still too far out of reach.
I didn’t expect Arriflex to jump on the square-box-camera wagon after the Amira. But today’s announcement of the Alexa “mini” is just that. All that you would expect from Arri in a refined little package for less money.
It really is curious what RED has hinted at with the peak at their new “Weapon“. Perhaps it is the dragon sensor in a more refined body than the EPIC. Maybe RED truly is the innovator they claim to be with ARRI making the Alexa fit into the EPIC mold (body style at least).
Also the C300 mk2 has the internet a buzz as well. Will Canon bring a competitor to the Sony Fs7 or just more of the same and tell the customers it is better? We will see if they can keep it under wraps until NAB or just start announcing early.
So I had the opportunity to rent and use the Sony Fs7 last week. I expected to like this camera, had one on order but postponed until some more work comes along. This outing was straight forward vox pop style interviews. I encouraged the producer to go with it so they could easily cut into the 4K image without a loss in resolution.
The camera really is well laid out and easy to jump into using (for someone that has used dozens of cameras). The number one thing that myself and any other user is going to need to spend some time with is the the CINE settings. Shooting in Slog with LUTs can be confusing and an extra step in the process for post. Make sure that you and your post pipeline are familiar with this and do some testing. For this project we went with a fairly flat “Alexa” style LUT and baked it in by selecting that the LUT be applied to internal recording.
If you are planning on filming long interviews I would recommend that you get the 128 GB cards. Shooting at 4K chewed through the 3 64GB card I had in no time or 32 minutes each. If you are downloading cards on set the reader is USB3 so make sure you bring a computer with this connection speed or you’ll be waiting a while.
I was using the camera with the Metabones Ultra lens adaptor. This worked great with my Canon Full frame glass. I really appreciated having the built in ND filters on the camera rather than messing with screw in filters on the lens.
I didn’t get to take advantage of the slow motion features too much on this project, but did run through it in my prep for the shoot. Like the Fs700 it has the capability to do slow motion in 1080. But unlike the Fs700 this camera can run at 180 FPS continuously.
I look forward to taking the camera out again on the next shoot.
Every once in a while you see a film and it strikes you as being something exceptional. Maybe the story, the cast, etc. Recently I viewed “Ida” on Netflix having read about it in American Cinematographer some time ago and obviously didn’t see it in the cinema. What I really responded to in the film was the pure visual storytelling. The Cinematography is excellent. They came up with a way of composing many of the frames with extra room above the characters which is a bold move. They framed the movie in 1.33:1 which gives it a classic pre-50s feel along with being in black + white. Overall I think it is the simplicity of the film that was interesting to me. See the film and check out the details and analysis of the cinematography on the ASC website.
So we just finished up a mini doc about my perspective on film. The catalyst for the project was to create a 2 minute doc about something you are passionate about to win a Sony FS7. It turned out really well. Please check it out.
What a cool format that was gone before it had a chance to really be fully embraced. Just today ARRI announced a digital Alexa 65 with a huge sensor requiring lenses with a large image circle. Borrowing from still photography they’re calling it medium format. Rental only at a substantial rate I imagine. It’s just cool to know that that camera exists. Fascinating article published in Film & Digital Times.
I’ve tried various hand grips for hand-held rigs over the years but nothing beats the hand-grip on a film camera. I’ve never used the coveted Aaton grip, but the Arri SR grip is modeled after that and I have always thought of that as hand-held. The rosette allowed for adjustment. So after tossing another “DSLR” style handle I finally put down the money and bought one of these from KinoGrip. A handmade custom grip with an ARRI rosette. I’m still waiting for it to arrive as it takes several weeks. I will report back when it comes in.
Another year, another smash by Black Magic. I didn’t make it out to NAB to see the dazzling new offerings in broadcast and cinema products but with the live feeds and daily video posts it is not necessary. So there are more cameras coming out. Ok, but who was really asking for new cameras? These days we are working with smaller cameras at high resolutions. The market just gets a little more crowded and eventually there will be fewer cameras if resolution and compression stabilize. Most likely the startups like Digital Bolex will suffer the same fate as DALSA. Not enough reserves to make it through the next technical or manufacturing hiccup or the camera is too expensive for the market it was created for. But it could also be the makers with deep pockets that decide to back away. RED stopped making lenses after a short period, leaving it those that do it best.
Anyway, I was hoping to see more innovation (and lower prices) in cameras that acquire slow motion at 240FPS and above. Some cameras have pushed close as a standard feature or add-on (Arri Amira), but the Sony FS-700 still remains the best deal for short bursts of slow motion and very capable 1080 video work. With 4K add-on for that camera you are getting close to the price of a RED Scarlet, but with more features including better audio. On the upside of the the new cameras is the realization that they should still be operator friendly and shoulder mounted. The modular box is cool, but by the time you add all your third party accessories you have doubled the price of the camera.
On the horizon we have the GoPro Hero 4 being talked about with 120FPS at 1080 and 4K up to 30. Also the GH4 is shipping so there are plenty of new toys to try out. Do we really need them? Nope, but does a child with a room full of toys still enjoy a visit to the toy store? YES!