Soon we’ll have hard drives so massive and error proof that we’ll never have to worry about backing up footage. ever. Ok, that sounds like an organizational disaster probably.
Thinking about cameras coming out this year and every blog I read points to the Panasonic GH5 as the most amazing tool coming out. For some that may be true. 4K, check. 10bit, check. nearly S35 size sensor, check. But some things like LOG recording are at an additional cost. Raw is not an option though that is less important to me than to others. My experiences with the GH4 were limited but the low light sensitivity was so bad it reminded me of my Panasonic HVX200. Now that was a camera!
My thoughts are on BlackMagic. They seem to pull something amazing off at every single NAB since they released their first Cinema camera. The pocket has been very popular in some circles but extremely limiting in nearby circles. Now with the stability of their URSA mini camera perhaps they will look at a version 2 of the pocket. A super 35 size sensor pocket cinema camera.
I have not used the Sony A6500, but I have used the A6300 and this camera is a great little tool. The crop sensor is about the size of S35. It shoots in Slog3 and 4K! If Sony can put all of this into a camera at $1300-1500 Black Magic will make a pocket 35 Cinema camera. ProRes, RAW, 4K.
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.
This is a frame grab of the close up using the Nikon 50mm. Lit with F&V z96 light.
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.
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.
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!
So the camera has been out for a year, but this was our first outing with the small box with a lens mount.
I can say that I was more impressed with the camera than I thought I would be. Why is that? As many have noted the camera has many shortcomings but comes in at a price tag that may have you overlooking them. The recording and file types of the camera are amazing at any price. Recording straight to ProRes will cost you at least another grand coming off your Sony/Canon/Nikon and you have to attach that gizmo to your rig. The BMCC does it in camera. If you want raw, you can record to Cinema DNG files. Be prepared to spend some time with Resolve or some other workflow to get your RAW footage into your NLE.
It was really easy to use and intuitive. An inexpensive camera should not be complicated. Some of the features like focus assist were very useful. We used the Canon EF model with a variety of lenses. The Tokina 11-16 worked great as did the Rokinon Cine primes. One of the Canon EF lens had trouble with the iris control. It worked fine on a DSLR, just couldn’t communicate with the BMCC.
The shortcomings have been well documented and some are just compromises of an inexpensive motion picture camera. Not every camera can or should do everything. If it does it should cost more than $2K. The first thing my students asked was how fast does it shoot? 60 fps? nope. You got 24 or 30. Okay, I can still make a movie with that. Card format and clip editing in camera. nope. You have to connect your SSD card to a computer to format it and manage any clips. The battery is internal. What? By the time we had the shot set up and dolly shot rehearsed the battery was flashing 25%. More cable wrangling or a third party solution to power. Can I plug a mic in? Sure with an adaptor to 1/4″ plugs. But I don’t hear any sound. That’s because there is no Phantom power and we have a 416 p48 plugged in. I’m sure there were other minor issues but none that stand out.
If you are aware of the compromises you can use this camera to make some great images. If you were expecting a RED EPIC for $2K you will be disappointed.