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.
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.
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.
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.
It is the Metabones Speed booster ULTRA Canon EF to Sony E mount lens adaptor. I’ll be testing it out on an FS700 this weekend. I was impressed with the speedbooster before and the Ultra promises to have increased corner sharpness and less vignetting. Sounds good to me.
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.