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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Magic Lantern is not new. It is software, or rather a firmware hack for your Canon DSLR. So up until now I had resisted loading it on the 5DmkIII because it could void the warranty, cause the camera to act up, or possibly brick it. Why now? Why not? The features have really come along way since I tried loading it on the Canon T2i years ago. It has an intervalometer in camera. All kinds of waveform monitoring and peaking to help with exposure and focus if you’re not using an external monitor. It also allows you to under crank and over crank the fps. This is cool if you want that time lapse look, but record it straight to video. Of course it has the much hyped RAW feature. I tried this out on a clip and it was cool, seemed to work just great and I don’t doubt the added resolution, but is it really worth it? About 12 minutes of recording time on a 32 GB CF card and then the post on it was a pain. Conversion using some hard to find utility. Sort of reminds me of the early days of working with RED footage. Some useful tools and options for creative filmmaking and photography that Canon didn’t think you would need. Good luck!
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.