Here comes a sad day that a company that once prided themselves on being the cool rebel hipsters of the video camera industry have now put their white-collar, patent trolling hats on and are suing Sony for their f5, f55 and f65 cameras.
Red seems to be either very desperate for cash due to lacklustre sales, or just plain greedy. Their patents against Sony seem to be about them “inventing” a 2k or more video camera that shoots raw at 23 frames per second and up. They want Sony to pay up big on royalties and “lost income” due to their perceived patent violation.
If that’s the case, Blackmagic and those digital Bolex dudes and any other hopeful camera innovator out there better watch their backs because Jim Jannard will probably have you in his sights next and it’s either pay up or get shut down.
The sad thing is this will do irreparable damage to Red’s reputation. They can’t just get away with this like Apple can since they make specialist equipment for a very small percentage of the population. If Red loses the case, I feel this will be a good excuse for Jannard to call it quits since running a cinema camera manufacturing plant on home soil, paying their workers a full western income with all the benefits can’t be cheap. If sales are down then cash must be pouring down the drain at a ridiculous rate. The constant set-backs on the Dragon release can’t be helping since I feel a lot of potential Red customers are probably waiting for it to be released before pulling the trigger.
If Red does go away then what will happen to the industry? My opinion is it will continue on like nothing ever happened. Sure Red pushed 4k years ago and were the first to offer a semi-affordable 4k camera but in a year or two, 4k televisions will start becoming widespread and so will the release of 4k camcorders. In 2 years, I have no doubt we’ll be recording 4k from our phones. Red’s time as the new rebel kid on the block has come and gone and if this is how they choose to go out, then so be it.
For the benefit of technological progress, I hope Sony comes through and wins this.
After going through several shoulder rig configurations such as below, I’ve finally found my perfect go to rig for my FS100.
That’s right, after spending thousands on shoulder rigs and Zacuto EVFs and follow focuses, for my style of one man band type shooting, the monopod wins out over everything else for a number of reasons:
- It doesn’t matter how still I stand, the monopod is always alot more steadier.
- Having a shoulder rig on my shoulder all day can literally turn me into a cripple. Now the monopod takes the weight and I can go all day without a sweat.
- I can get different shots from different heights easily. No more crouching down or standing on my tippy toes. The monopod takes seconds to adjust.
- With a monopod, I don’t need an EVF or a follow focus, I can go barebones with my fs100 which is how I like to roll these days..
My monopod of choice is the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 which comes with a video “fluid” head that provides adequate smooth drag. Nowhere near as smooth as a good true fluid head tripod but much better than I could do with a shoulder rig. It uses the Manfrotto 501PL plate so I bought a few Manfrotto 577 adapters and now my Blackbird stabilizer and Miller DS-10 tripod are all compatible which makes switching between them all a breeze.
A little tip, sometimes the ball joint at the bottom sticks a bit causing a jerky pan, lubing it up with WD-40 or a similar lubricant spray makes it work much smoother.
Those ingenious dudes from turkish camera rig company Edelkrone are at it again. This time, they’ve come up with a new slider design that packs 2 foot of travel into a 1 foot slider.
I’m seriously thinking about buying one to replace my 80cm long Glidetrack but there doesn’t seem to be any reviews out there yet. The Glidetrack is far from ideal as it takes me about 3-4 goes before I get a smooth, non-sticky shot. I don’t know whether the Edelkrone is going to provide smooth consistant sliding shots so I’m going to wait it out.
A little shoot we did a couple of weekends ago for a new clothing label, Poly Goods.
There’s also some 7D and Gopro hero 2 footage in there which I think will be obvious to tell which is which.
On the FS100, I only used two lenses. The kit Sony 18-200mm lens for the gliding shots, because its light and the quality is fantastic. And also the Tokina 28-70mm ATX pro (Angenieux designed) lens which is a bloody awesome lens for the price (under $300).
After having owned a Canon 7D for over two years, I finally bought my first official Canon Lens, the 17-55mm f2.8 with IS. Before then I’ve been using my m42 old prime lenses but mostly I’ve been using the Tamron 17-50mm VC.
For video purposes, the Tamron was adequate in every way except for one, focusing. The focus ring on the Tamron is attrocious and it’s close to impossible to perform smooth focus racks because of the sticky plastic on plastic feeling. As you can imagine, without rack focusing this limits the use of the lens quite considerably, especially for wedding type videos that are all about the shallow DOF and rack focus shots. Brides demand it!
Since I bought my Sony FS100, this has become a non-issue since the 7D was then relegated to 2nd cam duties. My lens of choise on the FS100 is the Tokina 28-70mm f2.6-2.8 ATX-Pro which is based on an Angenieux lens design of the same focal length. (Angenieux are a French lens maker who are famous for their cinema lenses)
I bought the Tokina with a Nikon mount and then went to a Novoflex Nex/Nik adapter to mount it on the FS100. The Novoflex is German built quality but expensive. I tried cheaper adapters but the amount of play I got from them was unacceptable for my work.
The Tokina is a dream to use. It feels like a classic, all metal, precision built lens from a by-gone era. What’s great about it is the zoom mechanics are all internal so when I go from 28mm to 70mm, nothing protrudes out the front which makes it perfect for mattebox use. The focus ring on the Tokina is similar to my old Super Takumar lenses, like butter but with less throw which is a good thing since with the takumar you almost have to do a full 360 degree rotation to go from close focus to infinity.
The only downside to the Tokina is it isn’t wide enough at 28mm and it’s also heavy so it isn’t suitable for glide shots on my CMR Blackbird.
Since the Tamron wasn’t cutting the mustard for main camera use, I decided on buying the Canon 17-55mm as the all purpose lens on the FS100 so I can go from monopod to blackbird without having to switch lenses.
To do this, I also needed to get the Metabones EF to E mount adapter which is the only adapter on the market that allows the use and control of Canon lenses and their apertures with Image Stabilization on the FS100 (and other Sony NEX cameras).
I found a great deal on a Metabones adapter which is the first version. Metabones have since updated their adapter with a larger, circular opening to circumvent the cut-off bokeh problems of their first version. This only happens to lenses with large open apertures (f/1.4) so I didn’t really care about getting the latest and greatest since I don’t own any EF lenses with large apertures and after using the Metabones ver.1 adapter, I’m more than happy with my purchase and saved over half the cost of a new one. I tried to re-create the cut-off bokeh and flare problem with my 17-55mm lens but couldn’t do it. If you’re thinking about getting one and plan on using zooms, I recommend getting the version 1 since they can be had for dirt cheap now that everyone is buying the 2nd version.
I managed to also get a good deal on the Canon 17-55mm lens and saved a few hundred bucks from buying new. The great thing about this lens is I can always sell it down the track and not loose any money off it since Canon lenses hold their used value incredibly well.
After having a little play around with the 17-55mm I can only compare it to the Tamron equivalent. My thoughts are as follows:
The Zoom ring is much better than the Tamron and is usable for rack focusing. Not as smooth as my Tokina though but as I said, leaps and bounds better than the Tamron. It doesn’t have any hard stops though.
Trying it out in stills mode I can now see the attraction of these Canon lenses to photographers and why they cost twice as much as the other brands. The autofocus on these are stupidly fast. The Tamron takes a couple of seconds to hunt around whilst making a bunch of noise whilst the Canon seems to focus on an object in mere milliseconds without as much as a whisper. This can only bring confidence in a photographer that they will never miss a moment.
In stills mode the Canon also beats the Tamron in sharpness wide-open and at every other fstop. I can now see what the big deal is with these expensive Canon zooms.
What’s taken me so long to buy a Canon lens is obviously the cost compared to cheaper brands like Tamron and Sigma. I couldn’t see how any benefit these Canon lenses have could possibly be worth more than twice the cost of an equivalent lens by Tamron. For video use this is mostly true but focus rings for manual focusing are important to get right and for zooms, the only other manufacturer that seem to get it right is Tokina. Tokina don’t have a 17-50mm equivalent with image stabilisation though, they do have a 16-50mm with a buttery smooth focus ring but without IS, it takes it off the video radar. Hopefully one of these days, Tamron can get their finger out and start building lenses with smooth focus rings. Then they’d be perfect for video use.
The Great Camera War has begun.
5K EPIC-X Brain- $19,000
5K EPIC-X Monochrome Brain- $20,000
5K EPIC-M Brain- $24,000
5K/4K Scarlet Brain- $7,950
4.5K RED ONE M-X Battle Tested- $4000 (includes SSD recording module). The RED ONE is End of Life. Battle tested is all that will be available from here on out.
The RED ONE MX for $4000 is pretty damn exciting. I wonder what that will do to the used Red one market.
Sony have announced what many are regarding as “The Red Epic Killer” in the F55.
The long feature set for this camera is as follows:
- Super 35mm equivalent 4K single-chip CMOS sensor with global shutter
- The PMW-F55’s Sony 4K image sensor incorporates a revolutionary electronic global shutter to eliminate rolling shutter distortions. With 11.6 megapixels (total) and 8.9 megapixels (effective), the Sony 4K CMOS sensor captures a true 4K 4096 x 2160 DCI-standard cinema image.
- 16-bit RAW 2K/4K recording options with bolt-on AXS-R5 recorder
- Capture RAW at your choice of resolutions: the camera’s native 4K or beautiful, derived 2K. RAW recording preserves the greatest latitude for colour correction and other post processes. Sony’s 16-bit recording captures more tonal values than the human eye can differentiate. Sony RAW retains 16 times as many Red, Green and Blue gradations as 12-bit RAW and 64 times as many tones per channel as 10-bit recording. Sony 16-bit linear RAW is also the ideal point of entry into the 16-bit linear Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) workflow.
- AXS-R5 records onto ASXM™ memory cards
The bolt-on AXS-R5 recorder records onto sleek, high-capacity AXSM™ memory cards, which are compatible with an affordable optional USB 3.0 reader, the AXS-CR1. Once on a PC, the RAW files can be screened using Sony’s free RAW Viewer software. AXSM memory provides a super fast, affordable format for sensational quality recordings.
Choice of HD/2K/4K internal recording formats
- The F55 CineAlta camera allows you a choice of internal recording formats in addition to 16-bit RAW 2K/4K recording output onto the AXS-R5. The camera incorporates high-speed SxS PRO+ memory card recording that allows the choice of: 8-bit MPEG-2 HD422, 50Mbps; 10-bit XAVC 2K*/HD 100Mbps; SR Codec 10-bit MPEG4 SStP 220, 440 and 880Mbps*; and XAVC 4K/QFHD* 300Mbps. All formats can be recorded at a range of interlace and progressive frame rates (see camera specifications for precise details).
*Expected as a future upgrade.
- High speed shooting up to 60 fps 4K and180 fps 2K internally and 240 fps 2KRAW with optional AXS-R5 recorder
The F55 features high-data-rate on-board XAVC HDrecordings up to 60 fps, plus a free planned upgrade to XAVC 4K, QFHD and 2Kup to 60 fps and XAVC 2K/HD up to180 fps. It also offers 240 fps 2K RAW with the optional AXS-R5 outboard recorder and a planned upgrade, achieving the highest frame rates most productions will need, while retaining exceptional, 16-bit image quality.
- Next generation high-speed SxS PRO+ memory card
The F55 records internally onto SxS memory. High-speed shooting and the highest quality recording options require next-generation SxS recording media – Sony’s 64 GB* SxS PRO+ memory card – which can be read by the next-generation USB card reader, the SBAC-US20.
- Simultaneous RAW and onboard camera SxS recording
Sony provides a coordinated “off-line, on-line” workflow with simultaneous recording to internal SxS cards and the optional AXS-R5 RAW recorder. For seamless conforming in post, you get matching time code, start frame, stop frame, file names and other metadata. The camera supports the following RAW + Onboard combinations: RAW 4K/2K + XAVC 2K*/HD, RAW 4K/2K + MPEG-2 HD422 and RAW 2K + XAVC QFHD*/4K.
* Expected as a future upgrade.
- Real world workflows
Sony understands a fundamental truth: working cameras require practical workflows. That’s why the F5 is part of a larger production platform that includes affordable media cards, affordable card readers, free RAW Viewer software and compatibility with popular NLEs and finishing tools.
- Vast exposure latitude to 14 f-stops
The ability to render tones from deepest shadows to brightest highlights is a crucial test of any digital camera. The F55 excels, with an impressive 14 stops of exposure latitude, extraordinary low-light sensitivity and extremely low noise in the blacks.
- True colour technology
Sony believes that your camera should not limit your colour palette. That is why the F55 incorporates the same advanced colour filter array technology as used in Sony’s flagship F65, which is equipped with the industry’s only 8K sensor. You get a colour gamut that’s not only wider than other digital cameras.It is even wider than motion picture print film.
- Choice of viewfinders includes amazing OLED technology
A digital interface on the F55 allows for a variety of optional viewfinders, including the DVF-EL100. This 0.7-inch* viewfinder has the incredible clarity of 1280 x 720 High Definition, plus superb OLED brightness, contrast and response. The DVF-L350 3.5-inch* LCD viewfinder has higher resolution (960 x 540) than previous Sony viewfinders, plus ten times the contrast. And the eyepiece flips up for direct monitoring. The DVF-L700 compact 7-inch* LCD viewfinder enables high resolution when shooting in 2K and 4K, not to mention pixel-for-pixel 1920 x 1080 representation of your HD images.
*Viewable area, measured diagonally.
- Optional shoulder rig
The optional Sony shoulder rig provides comfortable handheld operation, hour after hour. The rig is sturdy, lightweight and features industry-standard rosettes on both sides for quick and easy attachment of third-party hand grips and other accessories.
- Small lightweight design for added versatility in 3D
The small size of the F55 is particularly welcome in stereoscopic 3D shooting. The chassis is only slightly wider than a typical PL mount prime lens, perfect for both mirror rigs and side-by-side configurations.
Incredible flexibility with the choice of PL-mount, FZ-mount and still lenses
- The F55 is designed to accommodate PL-mount, FZ-mount and still lenses. With the PL-mount adaptor, you can take advantage of acclaimed cine optics from Angénieux®, Canon®, Carl Zeiss®, Cooke®, FUJIFILM®, Leica® and more. Slip off the supplied PL-mount adaptor to reveal the native FZ mount with 18 mm flange focal distance. It’s perfect for accepting commercially available adaptors for still lenses, including Canon® EF, Canon FD, Nikon® DX, Nikon G, Leica® M and even 2/3-inch broadcast B4 lenses. There’s also Sony’s game-changing FZ-mount auto focus servo zoom: the SCL-Z18X140.
- A new generation of Sony PL-mount lenses
The F55 works with Sony’s second generation, cost-effective PL mount prime lenses. Thanks to refined glass, all are certified for 4K capture, while minimizing geometric distortion, vignetting and breathing. A 9-blade iris delivers beautiful bokehs. The focus rings rotate 240°. The series includes focal lengths of 20, 25, 35, 50, 85 and 135 mm. For easy lens changes, all have the same T2.0 aperture, the same external diameter, matte box diameter, and gear locations for follow focus and aperture. All are the same size except for the 135 mm.
- Intuitive one-touch interface
Carefully designed with significant input from cinematographers, the F55 provides an incredibly rich range of controls. And the interface is nicely intuitive. Instead of diving through menus, you get direct, one-touch access to key shooting parameters including frame rate, shutter speed, colour temperature, ISO sensitivity and gamma. Assignable buttons mean that favourite adjustments are always at your fingertips.
- Real-time 4K output and other vital connections
The camera offers powerful connections, including real-time 4K output to a compatible monitor. It is made possible by four 3G-SDI outputs. There is also HDMI®, USB, DC in connection, a removable XLR audio module and a removable time code/genlock module. The XLR inputs accept balanced analogue signals, provide 48-Volt phantom power and will accept four channels of AES/EBU digital audio with an expected firmware upgrade.
- Long-life Olivine battery and quick charger
The F55 takes advantage of Sony’s innovative BP-FL75 battery pack, which uses Olivine – Lithium Iron Phosphate – instead of conventional Lithium Ion cathodes. The result is a substantial increase in charge-discharge cycles, compared to previous Sony batteries. The Olivine battery works with Sony’s BC-L90 quick charger. The camera is also compatible with Sony’s BP-GL95A, GL65A, L80S and L60S batteries, which use the BC-L70 and L160 chargers.
There’s a number of advantages this camera has over Red’s offering:
First off it records 2k from the whole sensor. Nobody needs to shoot 4k all the time. It’s normally just a huge waste of space and rendering time. Red only offers 2k in a cropped windowed mode or with the additional purchase of a Meizler module which isn’t going to be cheap.
Not only does the camera shoot true raw with an add-on, it also shoots in a new h.264 format XAVC in s-log which is probably more than most people would need for grading purposes and would closely compare with Red’s version of raw.
The major problem with Red is the media, Red SSDs. They are way too expensive and way too overpriced for what you get. Sony’s answer is SxS pro cards which I’m guessing will be a fraction of the cost of similar capacity Red media.
Global shutter is huge advantage. No more worrying about photography flashes causing half bright frames and skew and jello shots.
The F55 comes with Sony’s FZ mount which can be adapted to almost every kind of lens out there including PL which comes standard.
That plus a whole host of other features has got Red sweating so much that they will be slashing the price of their Epics come November 1st. They say it’s because of more efficient manufacturing techniques but we all know better than that. What’s funny is that Red seems have been timing their price cut until after the announcement of the F55. Most are speculating that Red will be determining the amount to slash off their Epics based on the release price of the F55 but Sony have delayed the release of the price of the F55 to probably after November the 1st which puts Red in an awkward situation. Now they must know how Canon feels.
Interesting times ahead. May the Great Camera Wars begin!
Here’s a link to the a video introducing the F55 which seems to have overtaken the Epic as the dream camera.
I’ve been getting into stereo recordings lately and found my Zoom H4N quite lacking in its performance. It just doesn’t pick up all the frequencies and lacks that clarity that I’m after. I’m soon to record a live performance of a harpist and wanted to achieve a good, professional recording. Since she is a friend and me being a musical recording noob, it will also allow me to experiment with different stereo mic positions and mic placements. I’ll also be filming her for her portfolio website.
I bought a pair of used Oktava MK219s off of ebay for a fairly good price ($125 each plus postage). Not bad considering there are some places still trying to sell them for $350 new but I heard back in the day, when nobody knew anything about them, they could be had for around $40 each.
The reason I bought the MK219 was because they are quite famous for their ease of being modified to perform similar to a much more expensive mic like the Neumann m149. This all started when Scott Dorsey first mentioned his mod in an article published in Recording magazine that can still be viewed here. His mod outlines some pretty basic body modifications that involve, removing the grill, removing a layer of the microphone mesh and dampening the insides of the body with silicone or a similar kind of rubbery adhesive. An optional mod was also to remove the plastic baffles screwed to the mic capsule.
After doing this to my two Oktava’s, the difference was quite staggering. Before it sounded quite dark (boomy) and muffled but after peeling away the layers in front of the capsule, it now sounds much clearer, more detailed, without sounding harsh. Just a note that once I had removed the inner mesh and reattached the single layer mesh, the mic started to emit a 50hz hum. This was caused by the mesh not being grounded to the mic body so this was fixed by gluing it in with Wire Glue, which is a conductive glue. This was also re-enforced with superglue.
The next step in the mod is to replace the electronic components inside the mic to better quality parts. This involves a soldering iron and the parts to replace are mentioned in the Dorsey article I talked about earlier. Instead of hunting for these different parts, I went the lazy route and ordered a mk219 mod kit from Bill Sitler. The cost was $39 per mic plus $4 international shipping. I’m sure if I hunted the parts I could have gotten them for much less but my time is probably worth more than a measly $39 per mic and the convenience is well worth it. He also offers to mod your mic for you for $169 but where would the fun be in that?
What is common with Oktava mics is the variation between mics that leave the factory. I found this to be correct after opening my two MK219s up and finding that they both had entirely different components installed in each mic. They sort of sound similar to me though but I’m hoping that after the electronics mod, they will match a bit better.
I just got the Mod kit delivered but I’m waiting on my soldering helping hands to arrive better I tackle this. The only soldering I’ve done lately is microphone cable building, which looks like a piece of cake compared to this.
I’ll let you know how the mod goes.
Update: The electronics mod has been completed aside from a hiccup on the first mic where I unknowingly broke a trace and plugged the mic in to just static noise. Nothing more solder can’t fix.
The results are really kind of subtle compared to the body only mods but there is a definite increase in detail and clarity being recorded but the increase in quality is no where as pronounced as when I did the body mods compared to the stock mic.
I was kind of expecting a more noticeable change but that was because the first mods made such a huge difference. But in the end, the combined body and electronics mods have produced a much better performing mic.
I find it amazing that in this day and age, we can buy an on-camera LED light that is well built, has temperature mixing and runs forever on a Sony camcorder battery for under $45.
After hearing about the Yongnuo YN140 lights and their price point, I just had to buy a couple even though I’ve been happily using my F&V Z96 lights for the past two years or so. The only problem with my Z96 lights is that I’ve misplaced my snap on magnetic filters. One fell in a lake from on top of a bridge. The others have fallen behind draws or have mysteriously vanished without a trace. All I have is one tungsten filter between the two of them.
What appealed me to the YN140 is that there is no need for filters since it has both tungsten and daylight LEDs that can be swapped or mixed together. That’s another big advantage over the Z96, with lighting I find that light is neither white or orange but always a mix between the two. Even outdoors, the temperature of the light depends on the time of day and whether it’s overcast or not. With the Z96 you either had to go all white or all tungsten. Now with the YN140, I can get a more accurate light on my subject.
The build quality of the YN140 is firstclass. Everything besides the clunky hotshoe mount points towards something that should be at least twice the price. The plastic feels solid with a nice satin texture, the battery snaps in solidly with no wiggle room and the buttons on the back have an affirmative click. Everything about the light tells me that it should last for years. Regarding the “solid” plastic feel, I can squeeze the light and it will not bend, it feels like every square inch is taken up inside unlike say my Ikan v5600 monitor which feels like it would shatter inwards if I squeezed it too hard.
In regards to lighting performance, I testing it against the Z96 which is highly regarded amongst many videographers and even photographers out there. This is by no means a scientific test. The camera used is a 7d with shutter at 1/50, aperture at 3.5 and iso at 320, white balance = auto. The subject is also not very interesting, it’s my messy highly unorganised shelf.
What I see in the tests is the YN140 provides more of a spotlight effect whilst the z96 has a more even distribution of light across the frame. The YN140 with all LEDS firing is brighter than the Z96 which is not surprising as it has more LEDs. What’s interesting though is the YN140 with only the Tungsten LEDs is brighter than the Z96 with just a tungsten filter applied.
Something to note is that the YN140 has two modes which can be switched over. Batt mode uses more power and is used when you are using a Sony compatible battery whilst the standard mode assumes you are using AA batteries and so uses less power. The tests above were done in Batt. mode.
So in conclusion, which one do I prefer? Well the more compact design of the YN140 along with ability to mix temps makes that one the winner for me. At under $45 delivered, it really is the bargain of the century in regards to on-camera lighting.
Update 21/12/12: Ok after having used the YN140 on a couple of jobs, I have found one pretty big problem with it. The lighting tends to dim over a period of time. I didn’t notice this until I scrubbed through about an hour of interview footage and noticed the brightness from the start to the end was quite different. With the Z96, I didn’t notice this dimming problem. It’s either on or off if the battery goes out. With the YN140, it seems to dip in brightness as the battery drains which is a big disappointment.
GoPro have announced the release of their new Hero3 range. The range includes three models but I’m just here to talk about one, the Hero3 :Black Edition.
I don’t even know why they bothered with the white and silver version. The Black edition specs are as follows:
KEY CAMERA SPECS
- 4kp 12 fps, 2.7kp 30 fps
- 1440p48/1080p60/720p120 fps
- 12MP / 30 fps Burst
- Wi-Fi Built-In
- Wi-Fi Remote Included
- GoPro App Compatible
- Pro Low-Light Performance
All of this for only $400. The biggest new feature to me is the 1440 48p, 1080 60p and 720 120p high speed frame rates. The pro low light performance sounds promising although I can’t really expect FS100 performance from a sensor that tiny. The inbuilt wifi feature is also a big hit to me for remote framing and recording from my iphone or ipad.
4K seems just about useless for anything but 2x fast motion but it’s a promising sign of what’s to come.
I know I’m getting one once they are released (early November is says). If Gopro can cram this much goodness in to a tiny little package, how about they finally put that knowledge to use into a more normal size, high framerate, 4k, Cineform RAW recorder with a S35 sensor.