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A First Look At New Cameras, Lenses And Accessories

This image was captured with Fujifilm’s X-Pro3 mirrorless camera, a camera that emphasizes the process of shooting photographs.

2020 has been a challenging year for the camera industry and the photography world, to say the least, particularly as the effects from the coronavirus pandemic continue to be felt in so many parts of the world economy. It’s in part what has led Olympus to announce this past June that it was selling off its camera system business.

Yet, camera companies that remain in the camera business are introducing some very impressive products for pro shooters, with imaginative and robust features sets. So, here’s a glimpse of some of those impressive cameras, lenses and accessories of 2020 that we’ve had a chance to try out. (Also, be sure to check out longer versions of these stories online, at digitalphotopro.com. )

Cameras

Nikon D780

Nikon D780

If you Google the phrase “DSLRs are dead,” you’ll come up with scores of articles claiming why they are, in fact, defunct. You’ll also find a few writers who claim the opposite: DSLRs aren’t quite dead yet. However, most will agree the era of DSLRs is definitely on the wane. In fact, Canon and Nikon both introduced full-frame mirrorless systems in 2018, which seemed very symbolic in terms of their strategies towards interchangeable-lens cameras.

That being said, it’s also true both Canon and Nikon are still introducing new DSLRs, at least for now. For instance, this year Canon updated its flagship, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR. Not to be left out, Nikon has also announced updates to its flagship, the F6, with a development announcement.

But Nikon also came out with a successor to one of its most popular DSLRs of all time, the Nikon D750. The new DSLR is the Nikon D780.

The Nikon D780, with the 24-120mm lens, is ideal for all sorts of action shots, from dramatic seascapes to leaping college graduates!

What’s nice to see is that this DSLR has changed with the times and includes technologies that are included on Nikon’s Z Series full-frame mirrorless cameras, like the Z 6, including the 24-megapixel sensor with its 273 phase-detect pixels. And for videographers, the D780 is a big jump from the D750, with the new model’s ability to capture 4K ultra-high-def video, which it also borrows from the Z 6.

As far as the design goes, though, they kept a lot of it the same elements as the D750, since that predecessor was such a hit with photographers. There are minor changes, though, like the removal of the popup flash, which no pro will miss, and the addition of the touchscreen LCD. 

In using the camera with the 24-120mm lens, I found the speed and accuracy to be spot-on. I also was quite impressed with both the video quality and the audio on my video clips.

Estimated Street Price: $2,299 (body only); $2,799 (with 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens)

Website: nikonusa.com

The SIGMA fp full-frame mirrorless camera and the SIGMA 70mm f/2.8 DG ART Macro Lens.

SIGMA fp

There’s quite a lot to like about SIGMA’s fp, its first full-frame mirrorless camera. It also happens to be the first interchangeable-lens model from the company without using SIGMA’s Foveon sensor technology.

It’s a very small and compact mirrorless camera, particularly for a full-frame camera—and claims to be the most compact available. However, this allows you to build out the camera in various ways—and that’s something I really admired in this camera, the modular design concept, which allows you to add just the elements you need. And while it’s something that is important for still-photographer pros, it’s essential for photographers who are considering using this camera body for cinema and video projects.

I shot still photos and video with it using several different SIGMA lenses, including the 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art lens as well as the 45mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens and Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens. In general, I liked the quality and performance of the camera with the lenses I used. However, I wasn’t always crazy about the feel of the camera—I think longer lenses may feel a tad unbalanced, since the body is so compact. For example, using the 60-600mm may be an issue.

The SIGMA fp did a nice job of rendering the soft light from the setting sun, while also giving a bit of bokeh to soften the background.

However, since this mirrorless camera is one of the most customizable on the market, I really wasn’t that concerned since you could get an additional grip that should easily overcome that problem.

One minor downside on the camera body was ease of use—by separating the still photo and video segments, it sometimes felt a little difficult to find options that seemed a bit buried in the menu settings. But overall, once photographers and videographers get accustomed to the settings, they’ll each enjoy the fact that these sections are separate.

In terms of quality, of both the still photos and video, I felt the SIGMA fp provide content creates with an excellent choice-particularly for pros looking to cross over into film, or back in to still photography.    

Pricing: $1,799 (body only); $2,149 (the 45mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens)

Website: sigma-photo.com

Fujifilm X-Pro3

Fujifilm X-Pro3

When I attended Fujifilm’s briefing for the X-Pro3 mirrorless digital camera, the product managers made of point of emphasizing that this camera is one of the reasons why the company has kept the name “film” in its name all these years. That’s because the new X-Pro series APS-C mirrorless digital camera was designed to remind you to think like a film photographer, which seemed a bit odd in this era of digital wonders. How so?

On this model, the LCD only folds down to see the live-view image or to review your images and video. In other words, it doesn’t swivel like many mirrorless models in order to see and frame your images on the display (in live-preview mode). Instead, Fujifilm says you’re forced to slow down and simply use the viewfinder. That allows you to think like a film photographer, instead of continually chimping, which is the act of spending an excessive amount of time reviewing your images on your camera’s display right after you shot them.

Question is…do I think Fujifilm succeeded? Now, I’m not sure if I’d consider myself “old school” (although I’m sure my kids do), but for me, I really relished taking pictures on this camera for allowing me to focus on the joys of picture taking aspect. In fact, I felt I did avoid reviewing each and every shot or burst of images that I captured.

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 does an excellent job in the field, whether you want to shoot with a shallow depth of field or a much greater depth of field, like in this shot, where all details, both near and far, are in focus.

There were other things that caught my own on this camera. As I have in the past, with a number of Fujifilm models, I admired the X-Pro3’s tactile, textured quality of the camera body and placement of the controls. Additionally, the high-quality hybrid viewfinder is as good as it’s ever been—letting you view the scene either electronically (a live-view display) or via the optical viewfinder.

Letting you use the viewfinder as an electronic viewfinder or like an rangefinder-like optical viewfinder is just an very enjoyable experience. But of course, I should note that this feature was on the previous model, the X-Pro2. But there were new features too, including the ability to capture 4K video capture (30 fps). But for many this camera is really designed for still-photo content creators.

One additional feature I really liked was its film simulation modes, including a new Classic Negative Film Simulation mode, which, the company says, “is designed to simulate color negative film.”

So, for me, this camera is so ideal for street shooters who love to explore cities or suburbs or any sort of country setting and just allow yourself to be immersed in the art of photography.

Pricing: $1,799 (body only, black finish); $1,999 (in one of two dura finishes, silver or black)

Website: fujifilm.com

Lenses

This Hasselblad lens, XCD 4/45P, is the most lightweight and compact lens for its medium format XCD system.

Hasselblad XCD 4/45P

What impressed me about Hasselblad’s XCD 4/45P lens is that because it was designed to be portable and very lightweight, it made for very easy traveling and ease of use. But still, it’s not like they scaled back on quality. Since it can be used in Hasselblad’s medium-format system, it makes for some very impressive high-resolution images. At $1,099, it’s a bit pricey, but not when you consider it’s part of a medium-format system, which you’ll generally pay a premium for.

What I liked was the fact that you had a minimum focus distance of 13.8 inches—which even allowed for some makeshift selfies as well as for some nice still-life shots. What is intriguing for this lens is that it’s very bare bones in terms of “extras”—it has no optical image stabilization, no focus hold buttons or other controls or switches. It only includes a manual focus ring. Some might find this a downside, but I was comfortable using it for a variety of projects.

This lens, which has a 35mm film camera equivalent of a 36mm lens, did an extraordinary job of resolving all the wonderful details in this New York City scene. However, the Hasselblad system itself still could use a few tweaks when it comes to speed, particularly when it comes to autofocusing this lens.

Overall, it was a comfortable lens to work with. However, the Hasselblad system itself still could use a few tweaks when it comes to speed, particularly when it comes to autofocusing this lens. But as I expected, this lens, which has a 35mm film camera equivalent of a 36mm lens, did an extraordinary job of resolving all the wonderful details in my subjects—whether shooting street scenes or still lifes.

Estimated Street Price: $1,099

Website: hasselblad.com

Two budget primes—Tamron’s 24mm F/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F051) (bottom) and 35mm F/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) (top)

Tamron’s 24mm F/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F051) & 35mm F/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053)

These two lenses were announced in the late fall of 2019 and were marketed as a trio, which included the 20mm F/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F050). They’re very much priced for those on a budget, but they certainly don’t skimp on quality.

You won’t get some of the extras that you’ll get on, say, Sony’s branded ultra-wide-angle FE 20mm F1.8 G or its FE 35mm F1.4 G—for example, you’ll find focus hold buttons on those models, but not these Tamrons.

Although these budget-priced lenses don’t have a lot of extras, they do quite well in most settings, both in quality and performance.

But overall, they performed quite well in the field, whether in urban settings or out in the wild…well, the northfork of Long Island! What’s more, is they’re very light and compact—I certainly didn’t feel weighed down while shooting with them around Times Square in New York City or out east on the Northfork.

What I admired most about both is that no matter what subject matter I was shooting, they often did an excellent job of autofocusing on the subjects I intended to focus on. I also felt that my images were sharp and crisp. So, there was no issues with it being a third-party lens in terms of compatibility.   

Estimated Street Price: $299 (for each lens)

Website: tamron-usa.com

The Sony’s FE 200-600mm, with the Sony a7R IV full frame mirrorless camera.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Super-Telephoto Zoom Lens

Last year, Sony introduced two lenses for full frames that both offered photographers the ability to capture subjects at the same super-telephoto focal length of 600mm, but at much different price points. The pricier lens, a prime, was the Sony FE 600mm F4 GM OSS, which cost $13,000, a big investment for most photographers.

However, Sony also introduced the more economical and versatile telephoto zoom, an FE 200-600mm zoom, although with a slower f/5.6-6.3 aperture range. And when I got a chance to shoot with the zoom lens, I really found a lot of impressive features. For instance, I like that it had internal zoom, which means the lens doesn’t telescope out when zooming toward its 600mm end of the zoom. That feature also helps make it more weather resistant.

Although this super tele zoom from Sony can be quite good for sports, wildlife and action shots, it can also be quite good for getting some very nice portraits, like this one of my son just after sundown.

Another important feature—which you can see in my portrait of my son, shot at the 600mm—was its built-in optical stabilization system. At such a long zoom setting, in lower light, that can easily result in quite blurry photos. But as you can see, the shot is quite sharp.

The 11-blade circular aperture mechanism helps produce a very nice bokeh effect in the background. But such a lens, of course, with a f/5.6-6.3 aperture, means you are forced to compromise and live with a maximum aperture of ƒ/5.6. However, if you can live with that compromise, it’s a very impressive lens.

 Accessories

Peak Design’s Travel Tripod

Peak Design Travel Tripod

Peak Design’s Travel Tripod isn’t a new product, and it’s not a tripod that includes every last bell and whistle. But the reason I found it to be such a powerful accessory is that it was very helpful to me while capturing night shots of starry skies. In fact, I was able to capture some really impressive shots—at least upping my previous efforts at shooting the stars in the sky. And because I was shooting at night, in the dark, it was quite useful to have a tripod that had a very. intuitive design. In other words, I could just quickly feel around for certain physical knobs or buttons, and set up. That mean that I wasn’t spending 15 minutes searching around with my iPhone’s light to find an obscure button or switch. That’s smart, inventive product design.

Having a good tripod is almost always essential when you’re trying to shoot decent shots at night, either to capture a crisp shot of a starry sky or star trials.

For instance, it was easy to open it up, adjust the legs, or change the angle of the camera. Since I was shooting at stars, which means you don’t want your camera or tripod to move at all, I loved that it had a hook that allowed me to hang my heavy backpack to make the tripod sturdier.

Pricing: $599 (with carbon fiber), $349 (with aluminum legs)

Website: peakdesign.com

BenQ’s SW321C computer monitor and Hotkey Puck G2 quick switch accessory.

First Impressions: BenQ SW321C 32-Inch Monitor

One of the coolest demos that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing was BenQ’s demo earlier this year, introducing me to one of its latest monitors targeted at photographers, the BenQ SW321C. It’s a brilliant and well-designed 32-inch, 4K UHD, 10-bit color depth, wide color gamut monitor. What made it so cool was that when arrived, I walked into a dimly lit room to see the monitor, which had a reproduction of one of Van Gogh’s painting displayed on the monitor. Now, as a fine-art old painter, and I really know what Van Gogh’s paintings look like first hand. But I’ll admit that the monitor made me look twice to see if it was a real painting or not.

Of course, BenQ is targeting photographers and even videographers with this monitor, not fine-art oil painters. And although it’s a pretty pricey display, at around $2,000, I found it overall to be quite satisfying to use.

BenQ’s SW321C greatly reduces the glare and reflectivity on the monitor by using a textured screen. You can see how much less light is reflected when you compare it to an average PC laptop screen.

For me, I found it provided a great way to examine all the fine details of my images and videos while also ensuring that the colors and tones looked accurate. That means for postproduction, the SW321C is a monitor that offers a stable environment to study and edit your work, knowing that you’ll get an accurate take of your work. In fact, as it states on its website, the SW321C is “Factory Calibrated for Out-of-the-Box Color Accuracy: The SW321C is out-of-the-box color accurate. Each display arrives with its unique factory calibration report.” After spending some time with this monitor, here are a couple of points on why I liked it:

Quality And Consistency Of The Display: First of all, I really fell in love with the texture of this display! You can see why when you see the comparison image with one of my laptops. It does a fantastic job of minimizing the monitor’s reflectivity and glare. When combining this with the fact that it has IPS technology, or “In-Plane Switching” technology, which provides excellent consistency for better viewing angles and ensures color accuracy and consistency, it becomes an even better experience. In other words, an IPS monitor like the SW321C won’t shift when being viewed at an angle as drastically as other types of computer monitors.

One of the keys to successfully photo editing your photos in postproduction is you need a reliable screen. BenQ’s SW321C is a successful attempt to be such a monitor: To give you a sense of its accuracy, I displayed one of my still-life photos that I printed, shown next to the monitor itself, displaying the same still life.

Ease Of Use: Another feature I really liked was its Hotkey Puck G2, which is designed to quickly and easily change settings on the monitor, so that you can get an accurate read on your photograph and how it looks in various color spaces—not just Adobe RGB, sRGB, or black-and-white but also its proprietary Paper Color Sync technology as well as other settings.

And, by the way, for photographers, BenQ’s Paper Color Sync simulates how it will eventually reproduce on a printed image.

In my initial tests, the results looked quite good. One thing I wasn’t crazy about was BenQ’s proprietary software design, which isn’t always the most intuitive. But, overall, I felt the BenQ SW321C provides a superb value for photographers. 

Estimated Street Price: $2,000

Website: BenQ.com

The post A First Look At New Cameras, Lenses And Accessories appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Lighting For Beauty And Fashion Video

I lit actress Lauren Graham using clamshell lighting for this Netflix promo spot. While it wasn’t exactly a beauty spot, I utilized beauty lighting to make Lauren look her best, since this was for a big announcement about her new series.

Interviews are one of the most common threads that unite video shooters and cinematographers, for all types of projects. That’s because the interview format has a tendency to find its way into almost all forms of production at one time or another. It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting corporate, commercials or documentaries. I’ve seen the interview shot even work its way into narrative films and music videos, which might open with a character or musician giving a few sound bites in an “interview.”

Your job—which is to shoot the interview—is to light the talent in the most flattering way possible, but in a contextually appropriate way.

Let’s expand on that for a moment: What I mean by “contextually appropriate” is that the subject should be lit in a way that supports and complements what they are speaking about in their interview. It typically wouldn’t make sense to light a forensics expert talking about autopsy reports with the same warm and friendly lighting that would be appropriate for a mother talking lovingly about her child. Context in lighting is everything.  

What About Beauty, Fashion Or Glamour Lighting?

Additionally, at some point, you may occasionally have been asked to shoot something tied to beauty, fashion or glamour.

If you’ve been in this position before, how did you change your “normal” interview lighting setup to accommodate this request for a softer, warmer, more idealized look that’s typical in beauty and fashion?

If you’re not sure or you weren’t happy with your results, stay tuned: That’s what we are going to cover in this article. We’ll explore how to create lighting for beauty and fashion, and how to obtain flattering results that are simple, easy and quick. This will give you and your clients results that jump off the screen and flatter your subject.

Chances are, you can deploy the same lighting and grip gear that you already own and you’ve been using for normal-looking interviews. But for this primer, we’ll discuss different techniques and rules that apply to get that beauty/fashion/glamour look.

Lighting For Beauty And Fashion Video
I lit actor Colin Farrell using a normal soft key source on the right, a white reflector camera left, and a small hair light behind him on a 40-inch C-Stand arm, to pop him out from the muted tones of the wall behind him. This is a good example of “normal” interview lighting.

Three-Point Light For Normal Lighting

We’re going to assume that at this point in your career as a videographer, cinematographer or still photographer, you have a grasp of the basic three-point lighting technique:

In most “normal” lighting setups, you would have a key source—something large, diffused, set at about 45 degrees from your talent.

On the opposite 45 degrees to talent side, you would have a fill source, which can vary in size but is usually in the same realm as the key source in size or a larger diffusion disc or reflector. Or it could be another light source but dialed down so as not to be as bright as the key source on your talent’s face, giving some “modeling” and dimensionality to your talent’s face.

The third source is usually located behind the talent and is often placed high up, out of frame. This light is referred to as a hair light or sometimes as a rim light, depending on how this third light is being used.

The most commonly used technique for beauty and fashion lighting is referred to as “clamshell” lighting. The name will become apparent as you read on.

In a “normal” interview lighting setup, the goal is usually to achieve some semblance of subtle shadowing on one side of the face. In other words, the “key” side is brighter, and the opposite side, the “fill” side, is usually a bit darker.

Since video is viewed on a flat two-dimensional screen, one of the goals in lighting is often to make the image appear more three-dimensional. By changing the contrast ratio between the brighter and darker sides of the face, the shadows look super cool and give an image more depth, but shadows also tend to emphasize minor textures and flaws in the talent’s skin. For normal situations, you want to add some dimension in the image, but you still want to maintain the appearance of flawless skin with your talent.

Lighting For Beauty And Fashion Video
Here’s a profile diagram of clamshell lighting: It utilizes a top source, center axis to talent and a bottom source, also center to talent. The camera shoots the footage centered between the two soft sources. This style of lighting minimizes skin imperfections and is extremely soft and flattering to skin, hair and eyes.

Clamshell Lighting For Beauty, Fashion Or Glamour

If achieving smooth, flawless skin in the image is more important than achieving lighting with a bit of shadow, the simplest, most effective way to light the talent is with clamshell lighting.

While your key source in a normal lighting setup is set around 45 degrees to the camera right or left, in a clamshell lighting setup, your key is placed above the camera. By bringing the key light on axis with the camera’s lens, you eliminate almost all shadows from the talent’s face as the light comes from the same angle the camera is seeing.

This has a tendency to fill in and softly wash out any skin imperfections, as no shadows are cast by the large soft source that’s straight on to the talent. The next ingredient is to add an under fill source. This is another soft light source that is located low, in front of the camera, usually on a short height stand, or at times, you can rest the lighting source on the ground. This source is on the same exact axis as the key light up above it.

But the key to getting a really nice, soft and even lighting texture on your talent is highly dependent on achieving the correct ratio between the upper key and the lower fill. If you have too much under fill light coming in from underneath the talent, the lighting can look strange. Subtlety is the main factor here. It’s recommended that, for instance, if your key source is set for around 60 percent power, you will probably obtain the ratio you desire by dialing in about 10-15 percent power on the under fill source.

Lighting For Beauty And Fashion Video
Here’s a profile diagram of butterfly lighting. It also utilizes a top source, center axis to talent and a bottom source, except in this case, it’s a reflector instead of another light and softbox, resulting in a slightly different look under the nose with some soft shadow and contour.

Another Variation: Butterfly Lighting

There is some controversy regarding clamshell lighting and butterfly lighting. Some suggest they’re the same thing.

Generally, if two lights act as two independently powered sources, this is described as clamshell lighting.

Butterfly lighting is similar, except that instead of another light source and most often another softbox being used underneath the talent’s frame line, a white, gold or silver reflector is deployed horizontally right under the talent’s frame line, so that it reflects the light coming from the key source back up into the talent’s face.

In clamshell lighting, typically no shadow is seen underneath the talent’s nose; the lighting fills in that shadow area. In butterfly lighting, there is typically a figure 8-shaped subtle shadow and light area underneath the talent’s nose. These are both really just variations on the same thing.

You should experiment to see which method suits your talent and your desired look. I’ve used both, and either can look right in certain situations.

Lighting For Beauty And Fashion Video
I utilized hard hair lights (ARRI 650 fresnels on dimmers) to separate these two dark-haired talent from the black background.

To Hair Light Or Not To Hair Light

Classically, most beauty and fashion lighting traditionally featured fairly hard-edged hair lights. The hair light serves to place a halo of light around the talent, allowing them to look more three dimensional and pop out from the background. The popularity and style of hair light is sort of bound with trends, though.

Currently, over the past few years, hard-edged hair lights have gone out of style. While they can look appealing, they tend to emphasize a more obvious lighting style. With the current trend of everything looking more naturalistic and realistic, these types of hair lights can look a bit dated. Besides lending a look to the image, the hair light also serves a function as it can actually separate the talent from the background.

If you have a person on camera with black hair being shot against a dark or black background, you probably will be required to use a hair light just so their dark hair doesn’t blend in with the background, resulting in a face floating in a dark limbo.

Lighting For Beauty And Fashion Video
I lit Bruce Miller, the creator of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” with a rim light so that the sides of his face and darker shirt would pop from the dark background.

What About A Rim Light?

A rim light is really just a hair light at a lower angle. You’ll find with talent who are bald or have very thinning hair that a hair light won’t work very well. The skin on their head literally acts as a round reflector with specular highlights from the light ending up on their temples or upper forehead.

In these cases, you may elect just to skip the hair light. Assuming you are using a small Fresnel for this purpose, if you attach barn doors to the hair light, you can then aim that hair light at their shoulders, using the barn doors to flag the light off of their head, instead hitting them with the light around their shoulders and the sides of their arms. This will still allow them to pop out from the background as the hair light would normally do, while avoiding the specular highlights showing up on the talent’s head.

Lighting For Beauty And Fashion Video
Even though I often light with daylight-balanced LED lights, as key and fill sources, I often use an ARRI 300-watt Fresnel as a hair or rim light. The Tungsten 3200k color temperature provides a nice, warm glow to add some color contrast against the 5600k LEDs.

Color Temperature For The Hair Or Rim Light    

You can consider playing with color temperatures for your hair or rim light so that you build some color contrast into your scene. For instance, if you have keyed and filled your talent with daylight LEDs (5600k), try using a tungsten hair or rim light. Its 3200k color temperature will give your talent a slightly warm halo of light around their hair or edge, which can look very flattering.  

The Primary Concept

Good lighting is all about experimentation. Clamshell or butterfly lighting are the two easiest, most practical lighting styles for most beauty, fashion or glamour looks, but they aren’t the only ones. There are other higher-end beauty and glamour lighting styles that work very well but require large, expensive and very powerful lights and huge diffusion sources, like 8 x 8-foot or 12 x 12-foot diffusion panels or larger. So, they are a bit beyond the scope of this article.

Clamshell and butterfly lighting are both available to anyone who is using regular and smaller lighting kits and with careful setup can yield world-class results. Next time you need to light someone to look their absolute best, try clamshell or butterfly. You’ll be amazed at the results. 

The post Lighting For Beauty And Fashion Video appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Sony A7C: A Compact Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera For Enthusiasts And Vloggers

The new Sony a7C small and compact full-frame mirrorless camera with the new FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 zoom lens

Today, Sony introduced three digital imaging products: The Sony a7C full-frame mirrorless camera, which the company says is its smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera body to date, nearly as small as the a6600, which has an APS-C-sized sensor. The Sony a7C will be available in late October for $1,799 (body only) and $2,099 with the new Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 (model SEL2860) kit lens, which is the second new digital-imaging product announced today. That lens will also be sold as a standalone zoom in early 2021 for $499. The third new product is the Sony HVL-F28RM, a wireless external flash unit, will be available later this winter and sell for $249.

Sony a7C Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Body

The new Sony a7C full-frame mirrorless camera (top view).
The new Sony a7C full-frame mirrorless camera (back view).

At the moment, there are several full-frame mirrorless Sony camera bodies on the market, including the Sony a7R IV, a7S III, a9 II, plus older models.

So, where does the a7C fit in and who’s the target audience? During Sony’s NDA briefing last week, the company presented the following list of the five current full-frame Alphas, including the new a7C, and how they’re characterized, using just one word to describe each model:

Additionally, during Sony’s NDA press briefing, the company noted that the main target groups for this camera would be lifestyle shooters and new user enthusiasts who don’t yet own a full-frame cameras. But Sony would also be targeting vloggers and existing full-frame camera owners who may want a second full-frame camera. 

(It’s interesting to note that Sony did comment on the fact that the Sony RX1 advanced point-and-shoot, which did include a 35mm full-frame image sensor, is a smaller model than the new a7C—but it lacks an image stabilization system. Sony also mentioned that the RX1 is not an interchangeable-lens camera like the a7C.)

Sony also sited various studies that said photographers and content creators were more likely to step up to a full-frame model if the camera had a smaller size and lighter weight. But to achieve its small size, measuring just 4.9 inches x 2.8 inches x 2.2 inches and weighing just 18 oz., Sony needed to produce new hardware, including a new smaller in-body image stabilization mechanism, a new compact shutter unit and a new compact eye-level viewfinder.


 

Here’s a list of some of the features found in the new Sony a7C:

  • A 24.2-megapixel CMOS ExmorR BSI full-frame sensor, with 693 phase detection points focal plane, covering 93% of the frame, as well as 425 contrast-detection points.
  • Sony’s BIONZ Z image processing engine
  • Real-time tracking autofocus initiated with AF On; Real-time Eye AF (human/animal).
  • Burst modes with up to 10fps continuous shooting with mechanical or electronic shutter plus AF/AE tracking.
  • 4K 24p/30p video recording with full pixel readout and beautiful bokeh, plus no time limitations for video recording.
  • Additional video features, including HLG/HDR, S-Log3/2 for seamless editing.
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization — reimagined and compact.
  • Class-leading battery life on the NP-FZ100 battery: 740 shots (CIPA rated), which includes using the LCD.
  • 4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity and USB-C 3.2.
  • A 3-inch 921,000-dot swiveling LCD screen.
  • A 2.4 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, positioned in the camera body’s corner, like Sony’s RX-100 series point-and-shoots.
  • A magnesium-alloy construction, with dust and moisture resistance seals.
  • Up to ISO 204,800.
  • A 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system.

Sony says that the new model has 14 stops Dynamic Range. They’ve also optimized ergonomics for those who are on the other side of the camera, including vloggers. Also, the a7C full-frame mirrorless camera will be available in black and silver color variations.

Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 Zoom Lens

The new Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 Zoom Lens.

Like the newly announced full-frame camera body, Sony was also looking to build an equally compact but just as capable standard zoom kit lens for the new a7C. Sony said the new zoom is the “world’s smallest and lightest full-frame E-mount standard zoom lens.” Also, it will be offered as both a kit lens and as a standalone, but the standalone version won’t hit the market until 2021. At press time, there was no price for the zoom sold as a standalone lens.

Prominent features on this lens include:

  • A retractable design. Sony noted that it doesn’t haave a motorized extension, but does have a manual extension.
  • It includes 3 aspherical lens elements and a 7-blade circular aperture.
  • A Linear AF motor for fast, precise and silent AF
  • Lightweight at just 5.8 oz.
  • Close focusing distance: approximately 12 inches (wide angle) and approximately 18 inches (telephoto).
  • Dust and moisture resistant.
  • Accepts 40.5mm filters

Sony HVL-F28RM Wireless Flash

The new Sony HVL-F28RM wireless flash on the new Sony a7C full-frame mirrorless camera.
The new Sony HVL-F28RM wireless flash (front view).
The new Sony HVL-F28RM wireless flash (back view).

Sony’s new wireless flash, the HVL-F28RM, is also compact and constructed to fit in with the small size of the new Sony’s full-frame alpha mirrorless camera. 

The Sony F28RM comes has a guide number of 28 and includes Sony’s latest imaging technology, including Sony’s flash control, which is linked to the camera’s face detection technolgy. Sony says that, “when used with a compatible camera, the balance between the light falling on the subject’s face and ambient light is evaluated to automatically adjust accurate white balance so that the subject’s face is rendered with natural, lifelike color.”

In terms of functionality, the new model, which is part of Sony’s radio wireless line of flashes (as opposed to its optical wireless line of flashes), will be able to be used as both a receiver and controller, and can control up to 15 flashes in 5 groups.  The new flash will also run on two AA batteries.

Sony notes that this flash unit does not swivel, but you can angle it at various angles–at 0-, 20-, 40-, 60-, 80- and 120-degree clicks. 

 

For more on these new products, read Sony’s press release below: 

[[press release:]]

Sony Electronics Introduces Alpha 7C Camera and Zoom Lens, the World’s Smallest and Lightest[i] Full-frame Camera System  

New HVL-F28RM Compact Flash is also Announced

SAN DIEGO, CA – September 14, 2020 – Today, Sony Electronics Inc. announced several additions to an already impressive imaging lineup — the Alpha 7C full-frame camera (model ILCE-7C), the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 (model SEL2860) zoom lens and HVL-F28RM flash.

The Alpha 7C is the world’s smallest and lightest[ii]  full-frame body with uncompromising performance, featuring advanced AF (autofocus), high-resolution 4K video[iii] capabilities and more. When paired with the world’s smallest and lightest[iv] FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 standard zoom lens, this versatile combination delivers an experience unlike any other, maximizing portability and versatility without sacrificing any of the power of full-frame imaging. The HVL-F28RM flash allows users to broaden their photo expressions with outstanding compactness, and an intelligent light intensity control linked to camera face detection[v].

“We are committed to creating the best tools possible, based on the needs of our customers,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president of Imaging Products and Solutions Americas, Sony Electronics. “The new Alpha 7C camera and FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 zoom lens pack many of our most advanced imaging technologies in a brand new design that is the smallest and lightest full-frame camera and lens system in the world. This opens up a new world of possibilities for creators, giving them the uncompromised power of a full-frame system in the palm of their hand.”

New Alpha 7C: Uncompromised Full-frame Performance in a Compact Design

The new Alpha 7C combines Sony’s full-frame image quality, advanced AF capabilities and versatile video shooting functions in a stunningly light and compact design. The new camera features a 24.2MP (approx. effective) 35mm full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS sensor and BIONZ X™ image processing engine, offering high sensitivity, outstanding resolution, 15-stop[vi]  wide dynamic range and high-speed image data processing. 

Measuring only 4.9 inches x 2.8 inches x 2.2 inches (124.0mm x 71.1mm x 59.7mm) and weighing just 18oz (509g)[vii], the Alpha 7C is similar in size and weight to an APS-C camera[viii], with only 1 percent more weight than the Alpha 6600. The Alpha 7C achieves the world’s smallest and lightest compact bodyii through upgraded 5-axis in-body stabilization and shutter units, and the utilization of magnesium alloy monocoque construction, often used in the bodies of cars and aircraft. Even in this compact body, the Alpha 7C features a 5-step[ix] stabilization effect that allows for shooting snaps without a tripod. Moreover, despite the compact body, the high-capacity NP-FZ100 battery provides enough power for long shooting durations and to capture up to an industry-leading[x] 740 images[xi]when using the LCD monitor, or 680 imagesxi when using the viewfinder.

Outstanding Full-frame Image Quality

Sony’s new Alpha 7C combines high resolution with low noise for excellent image quality at all sensitivities, offering the user stunning image quality for shooting everyday photography and movies such as nature, portraits, sports, street photography and more. Standard ISO extends up to 51,200 and is expandable from ISO 50-204,800[xii] for low-light environment captures with low noise. The Alpha 7C also supports 16-bit processing and 14-bit RAW output[xiii] for natural gradations.

Advanced Autofocus

Using AI-driven functions, the Alpha 7C’s Real-time Tracking[xiv] maintains accurate focus automatically while the shutter button is half-pressed. In addition, “Tracking On + AF-On” is now assignable to a custom key and can be activated at once while the AF-ON button is pressed. Moreover, the intended subject can be specified just by touching it on the monitor when “Touch Tracking” has been turned ON via the menu and is available for both stills and movies. The Alpha 7C’s AF functions also feature Real-time Eye AF for both humans and animals[xv] to achieve fast and accurate focus[xvi]. When using Real-time Tracking while “Face/Eye Priority in AF” is ON with a human subject, the subject’s eye and face is detected and locked on in real-time with extremely high tracking precision.

The Alpha 7C provides wide, fast, reliable AF that locks onto the intended subject instantly without losing focus, thanks to its 693-point focal-plane phase-detection AF system covering approximately 93 percent of the image area, with an additional 425 contrast-detection points to ensure reliable focus, even in busy environments.

The Alpha 7C also features continuous shooting at up to 10 fps[xvii] with AF/AE (autoexposure) by using a newly developed shutter unit and refined image processing system. It is also possible to shoot continuously at up to 8 fpsxvii in live view mode, with minimal viewfinder/monitor display lag for easy, stable framing, even with intense subject motion. The Alpha 7C allows up to approximately 223 JPEG (Fine L) images, 115 compressed RAW images, or 45 uncompressed RAW images to be captured in one continuous burst[xviii], and achieves highly accurate and reliable AF precision in light down to EV-4[xix]. These features make it easier to capture fast moving subjects in challenging environments.

Expanded Video Capabilities

Full-frame full-pixel readout without the need for pixel binning makes it possible to capture more than twice[xx] the amount of data required for 4K video (QFHD: 3840 x 2160)iii, which is then oversampled to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth. In addition, the Alpha 7C supports HDR (HLG[xxi]) and S-Log/S-Gamut profiles, Slow & Quick motion, high-speed full HD recording at 120 fpsiii and other advanced video features for additional creative freedom.

Furthermore, the Alpha 7C features Real-time Eye AF (human) for video shooting. The eye is automatically tracked with high precision and reliability so that the operator can concentrate on the content rather than focus operation. Users can also customize AF Transition Speed in seven settings, and AF Subject Shift Sensitivity in five settings, in their preferences. Touch Tracking functionality is also available for movie shooting.

The Alpha 7C features a side-opening vari-angle LCD monitor, making it easy to record selfies, overhead shots, low ground-level shots or whatever the user requires. The MOVIE button has been positioned on the top of the camera making it easier to operate while recording in selfie mode. The new Alpha 7C not only records high-quality video, but also high-quality audio. A digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe, allowing the ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit can be connected to input digital audio signals directly to the MI shoe for cleaner, clearer audio recordings. Like other MI shoe accessories, no cables or batteries are required, providing unrestrained freedom for Alpha system moviemaking. Headphone and microphone jacks are also provided to accurately monitor recorded sound, and metadata attached to movie footage shot vertically on the camera allows the footage after transfer to the smartphone or similar device, to also be replayed and edited in the vertical position.

Designed for Reliable Operation

The Alpha 7C is designed with the user in mind. The touch panel LCD monitor is a large touch-sensitive 3.0 type with approximately 921 thousand dots, providing optimal visibility even in bright outdoor conditions, and supporting touch focus, tracking and shutter operations.  The Alpha 7C also features a high-quality view mode for finer, more natural detail in addition to a 2.35 megadot (approx.) XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ EVF. The Alpha 7C offers functions that simplify operation during and after shooting, such as Fn button customizations and more. It is also dust and moisture resistant[xxii] to support shooting needs in challenging environments.

To simplify workflow needs, Wi-Fi compatible wireless-communication functions allows images and movies to be directly transferred[xxiii] to a smartphone or tablet for convenient sharing, viewing or saving. In addition to the conventional 2.4GHz band, support for the 11ac standard allows transfer via 5GHz band (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac)[xxiv]  so that users can select that stable and high-speed transfer with low interference. A USB Type-C® connector that supports SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (USB 3.2) is also provided, allowing fast transfer of images during PC remote shooting and power supply from external mobile batteries.

New FE 28-60mm F4-5.6: The World’s Smallest and Lightestiv Full-frame Zoom Lens with High Image Quality

The new FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 offers the world’s smallest and lightestiv form factor in a standard zoom lens, delivering high optical performance that achieves the high-resolution depiction of full-frame everywhere in the image. Optimal arrangement of the three aspherical lens elements effectively suppresses aberrations throughout the zoom range and realizes high resolution from corner to corner. A minimum focus distance of 0.99 foot (0.3m) (wide-angle) to 1.48 feet (0.45m) (telephoto) delivers close-up capability, making it perfect for everyday use or vlogging with a gimbal or grip.

At 5.9oz (167g) and 2.6 inches dia. x 1.8 inches length (66.6 mm dia. x 45 mm length), along with its mechanical and optimal optical design that features a retracting structure, the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 achieves unrivaled compactness and lightness, allowing users to easily carry it all the time. From everyday shooting to scenery, portraits and travel, it’s the ideal lens for any type of on-the-go shooting in a wide variety of environments. When combined with the Alpha 7C, the combination achieves uncompromising full-frame performance with the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera and lens systemi. Even with its compact size and light weight, the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 is dust and moisture resistantxxii and accepts a variety of 40.5mm filters.

The FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 delivers high-speed, high-accuracy AF allowing for Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF, using a linear motor. In addition to Sony’s advanced AF capabilities, the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 features an internal focus design which leaves the lens length unchanged with focus motion and close-up shots, enabling users to easily capture a wide variety of content from regular movie shooting to comfortable vlogging.

New HVL-F28RM: Compact Flash with Light Intensity Control Linked to Camera Face Detectionv

The HVL-F28RM is a compact flash designed to match Sony’s mirrorless cameras for a compact, manageable system, and offers the type of reliable, stable performance that only a genuine Sony product can provide. When compared to the HVL-F32M, the HVL-F28RM features a 12 percent reduction in volume and 7 percent reduction in weight. This compact, easy-to-use flash unit delivers the capabilities and dependability to meet the needs of both professional and advanced amateur content creators.

The HVL-F28RM offers consistent GN28[xxv] light output, optimized light distribution and continuous flash performance that won’t interrupt the user’s workflow, as well as stable radio wireless communication and multi flash radio control. The new flash also features Sony’s newly introduced flash control linked to camera face detectionv advanced technology. When used with a compatible camera, the balance between the light falling on the subject’s face and ambient light is evaluated to automatically adjust accurate white balance so that the subject’s face is rendered with natural, lifelike color. In addition, flash compensation, light ratio, and other detailed flash parameters can be controlled directly from a compatible camera[xxvi]. A camera custom key can be assigned to call up the flash parameter display so that adjustments can be made while looking through the viewfinder and gripping the camera. Flash parameters are shown in the selected camera display language.

A newly developed “Metal Shoe Foot with Rugged Side Frame”[xxvii] that also houses the unit’s electrical contacts offers improved resistance to physical shock and impact from all directions. The Multi Interface foot is fabricated from metal for higher strength. The HVL-F28RM also features a dust and moisture resistantxxii design. When the HVL-F28RM is mounted and locked onto the Alpha 7C, Alpha 7S III, Alpha 7R IV and Alpha 9 II, durability to dust and moisture is improved, even when used in challenging outdoor environments.   

The HVL-F28RM also features simple, intuitive operation with minimal controls including +/- light level buttons, pairing button, test button and lock lever. Plenty of light is available for bounce applications. The flash angle can also be set as required via 0, 20, 40, 60, 80, and 120 degree click stops for easy positioning. The new flash also features a built-in wireless radio trigger for reliable flash triggering when mounted on a compatible cameraxxvi and paired with an off-camera unit. When used as a transmitter, the HVL-F28RM can control up to 15 flash and/or receiver units in 5 groups[xxviii] at distances of up to 114 feet (35 meters)[xxix] for extraordinary lighting control and versatility.  The HVL-F28RM is powered by two AA (LR6) alkaline or NiMH batteries. A fresh pair of alkaline batteries can provide power for up to 110 continuous flashes (1/1 manual flash with alkaline batteries)xxix.

Pricing and Availability

The new Alpha 7C compact full-frame camera will be available in late October and will be sold for approximately $1,799.99 USD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

The FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 zoom lens will be available in early 2021 and will be sold for approximately $499.99 USD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

A new kit featuring the Alpha 7C compact full-frame camera and FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 zoom lens will also be available in late October and will be sold for approximately $2,099.99 USD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

The HVL-F28RM flash will be available this winter and will be sold for approximately $249.99 USD . It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

 
[i] An Alpha 7C with an FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 lens mounted. Among full-frame interchangeable-lens digital cameras, in combination with an interchangeable zoom lens. As of Sept. 2020. Sony survey.
[ii] Among full-frame interchangeable-lens digital cameras with optical in-body image stabilization mechanism, as of Sept. 2020. Sony survey.
[iii] A Class 10 or higher SDHC/SDXC card is required for XAVC S format movie recording. UHS speed class 3 or higher is required for 100 Mbps recording.
[iv] Among interchangeable zoom lenses for 35mm full-frame format digital camera bodies, as of Sept. 2020. Sony survey.
[v] This function is only compatible with Alpha 7C as of Sept. 2020
[vi] When shooting still images. Sony test conditions.
[vii] With battery and memory card included
[viii] Compared to the size of Alpha 6600, 120.0mm x 66.9mm x 59.0mm and a weight of 503g (With battery and memory card included).   
[ix] CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off.
[x] Among full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens digital cameras with autofocus function, as of Sept. 2020. Sony survey.
[xi] CIPA standards.
[xii] ISO expandable to 50 – 204,800 for stills, 100 – 102,400 for movies.
[xiii] Limited to 12-bit when compressed RAW is used for continuous shooting, BULB shooting, or when long-exposure noise reduction is [ON].
[xiv] “Tracking” in the menu.
[xv] Available on still images only.
[xvi] Accurate focus may not be achieved with certain subjects in certain situations.
[xvii] Up to 10 fps in continuous “Hi+” mode, and up to 8 fps in continuous “Hi” mode. UHS-II compatible SDXC memory card required. Sony test conditions. Maximum fps will depend on camera settings.
[xviii] Continuous “Hi+” mode. UHS-II compatible SDXC memory card required. Sony test conditions.
[xix] ISO 100 equivalent, F2.0 lens.
[xx] 24p recording. Approx. 1.6x at 30p.
[xxi] HDR (HLG) images can be viewed by connecting the camera directly to a Sony TV that supports HDR (HLG) playback.
[xxii] Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and water resistant.
[xxiii] Smartphone or tablet must have Imaging Edge Mobile installed. Please use version 7.2 or later.
[xxiv] Models sold in some countries/regions support IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz) wireless LAN only.  5GHz communication may be restricted in some countries and regions.
[xxv] 50 mm, at ISO 100 in meters
[xxvi] Visit Sony support webpage for functional compatibility information.
[xxvii] Design registration application pending.
[xxviii] In group flash mode. 3 groups (A-C) in TTL or manual flash mode.
[xxix] Sony internal test conditions.

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Fujifilm’s Fastest Interchangeable Lens: The New Fujinon XF50mm F1.0

Fujifilm’s new Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 R WR prime lens

Earlier this month, Fujifilm unveiled a very exciting new lens: Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 R WR lens. According to Fujifilm’s Victor Ha, senior director of marketing and product management for the manufacturer, “Not only is it the fastest interchangeable lens Fujifilm has ever produced, but it’s also an incredible tool for visual storytellers to use in telling their stories because its autofocus can achieve critical focus at very shallow depth of fields.” 

The new Fujinon prime lens won’t be cheap: It’ll be available this fall for $1,499. However, according to the company, the new compact lens, which is also relatively lightweight at 1.86 lbs., is also the world’s first autofocus ƒ/1.0 lens made for any mirrorless system, including full-frame systems. So, it will be very interesting to see how the new prime lens performs.

Here are some of the major features of the lens:

  • Extreme Shallow Depth-of-Field: The XF50mmF1.0 R WR has 12 lens elements in 9 groups, with one aspherical element and two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements. The lens also includes a precision-engineered, rounded diaphragm to produce smooth bokeh.
  • More Options in Low-Light Conditions: The very wide, maximum aperture should be helpful in low-light conditions and in nighttime scenarios, such as specialized low-light subjects like astrophotography.
  • World’s First F1.0 Autofocus Lens for Mirrorless Cameras: Fujifilm says that this new lens brings more light to the sensor than any previous XF lens, allowing “autofocus to operate on Fujifilm X-Pro3 and X-T4 cameras at -7EV luminance level.” The company says this includes shooting scene which are in near-darkness.
  • 120 Degrees of Precise Focus: Fujifilm says that because the ƒ/1.0 aperture produces a super-shallow depth-of-field, the focusing operation of the lens must be precise, which is why Fujifilm designed a more accurate focusing system than any previous XF Lens by using “120-degrees of rotation in its focusing ring to let you focus manually with minimal error.” Fujifilm says the 120º of rotation “makes autofocus movements notably precise and deliberate, while the lens’ engineering is designed to minimize focus shift effects during image making.”
  • Rugged Design: Fujifilm says this new XF lens is like all other weather-resistant XF Lenses and “is sealed in 11 locations to protect against moisture and dust, as well as being capable of use in temperatures down to 14°F (-10°C).

For more information, visit fujifilm-x.com/en-us/products/lenses/xf50mmf1-r-wr/ or read the press release below.

Fujifilm’s new Fujinon XF50mm F1.0 R WR prime lens on Fujifilm’s X-T4 mirrorless camera body.

[[ press release: ]]

Heralding a new age of portrait photography: FUJINON

XF50mmF1.0 R WR Lens

Introducing the world’s first F1.0 lens with Autofocus*1

Valhalla, N.Y. – September 3, 2020 — FUJIFILM North America Corporation is pleased to announce the launch of the FUJINON XF50mmF1.0 R WR Lens (hereafter “XF50mmF1.0 R WR”), the world’s first autofocus lens with a maximum aperture of F1.0, designed for mirrorless cameras. The XF50mmF1.0 R WR is the 35th interchangeable lens for the lineup of X Series digital cameras. 

“We’re really excited about the XF50mmF1.0 R WR,” said Victor Ha, senior director of marketing and product management for the Electronic Imaging Division of FUJIFILM North America Corporation. “Not only is it the fastest interchangeable lens Fujifilm has ever produced, but it’s also an incredible tool for visual storytellers to use in telling their stories because its autofocus can achieve critical focus at very shallow depth of fields.” 

XF50MMF1.0 R WR FEATURES:

Achieves an Incredibly Shallow Depth-of-Field

The XF50mmF1.0 R WR consists of 12 lens elements in nine groups and also contains one aspherical element and two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements to achieve optimum control of spherical aberration. Used at or near to its maximum F1.0 aperture, XF50mmF1.0 R WR can produce an astonishingly narrow depth-of-field. Its precision-engineered, rounded diaphragm produces large, smooth bokeh for a professional look. Use this new power in selective focus to keep only the subject’s eyes in focus and to create captivating, close-up character images.  “But it’s not just for portraits,” said Ha. “Take this lens out onto the street or into a lifestyle session and you’ll turn cluttered locations into clean backdrops with unrivaled subject separation.”

More Options in Low-Light Conditions

The very wide, maximum aperture on XF50mmF1.0 R WR means there are more options when it comes to making images in low-light conditions. At night, or in darkened interiors, XF50mmF1.0 R WR offers the widest apertures yet seen on an XF Lens, allowing more light to be drawn in when capturing your image. The FUJINON XF50mmF1.0 R WR lens also easily achieves fast shutter speeds that freeze movement and keep ISO settings lower for detail-rich results. Alternatively, combine high ISO settings with the F1.0 aperture for incredible versatility and use in other low-light applications like astrophotography.

World’s First F1.0 Autofocus Lens for Mirrorless Cameras

As the world’s first autofocus F1.0 lens made for any mirrorless system, including full-frame, XF50mmF1.0 R WR brings more light to the sensor than any previous XF lens, making it possible for the autofocus to operate on FUJIFILM X-Pro3 and X-T4 cameras at -7EV luminance level. Leaving behind a previous limit of -6EV luminance level with other XF lenses X Series users now have fast and precise low-light autofocus, even in near-darkness. With the added benefits of on-sensor Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF), Face/Eye AF and a powerful DC (direct current) motor, precise and fast autofocus at shallow depths of field is now also a possibility.

120 Degrees of Precise Focus

To make the most of its super-shallow depth-of-field, focusing must be precise. As a result, XF50mmF1.0 R WR has a focus ring that has been designed to be more accurate than any previous XF Lens. This makes it possible to adjust the focus from the minimum focusing distance to infinity very precisely. For this, XF50mmF1.0 R WR uses 120º of rotation in its focusing ring to let you focus manually with minimal error – and to achieve accurate focus when using your X Series camera’s Focus Peaking and Focus Assist modes. The 120º of rotation also makes autofocus movements notably precise and deliberate, while the lens’ engineering is designed to minimize focus shift effects during image making.  

Lightweight, Durable, Weather-Resistant Design

Despite being a fast, F1.0 lens, XF50mmF1.0 R WR is a lens you can use to make amazing pictures almost anywhere. Measuring 4.07in (103.5mm) long and weighing 1.86 pounds (845 grams), the lens is still quite compact and portable. Like all other weather-resistant XF Lenses, it is sealed in 11 locations to protect against moisture and dust, as well as being capable of use in temperatures down to 14°F (-10°C). When allied to a similarly specified, weather-resistant X Series mirrorless digital camera body, XF50mmF1.0 R WR lets you make unique images in the toughest environments.

Pricing and Availability

The XF50mmF1.0 R WR lens is expected to be available in Fall 2020 at manufacturer’s suggested retail prices of $1,499.95. For more information, please visit: 

https://fujifilm-x.com/en-us/products/lenses/xf50mmf1-r-wr/.

*1 Among interchangeable lenses for mirrorless digital camera systems as of September 3, 2020, according to Fujifilm data

 

 

 

 

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Adobe Family

I got a chuckle out of an online discussion about Adobe changing their icons again. While the complaints were well argued, it seemed like a molehill compared to the mountain I see regarding Creative Cloud. Creative Cloud feels like a consortium of different companies rather than a symbiotic ecosystem.

Since the Creative Cloud workflow suggested by Adobe enables you to switch in and out of various applications to get work done, I’d hope that many aspects of the environment would be similar. I don’t expect the interfaces to be identical. It makes sense that they’d be different because you don’t usually use a timeline in Photoshop, and Premiere Pro doesn’t edit photos. But there are things that seem as though they should be consistent across applications.

Take a look at the color picker in Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

After Effects is top left, Premiere Pro is top right and Photoshop is on the bottom.

Notice the differences in the three color pickers? I realize that Photoshop is going to have a few more options since it deals with CMYK, etc., but why is the color sample eye dropper in different positions? Why does Photoshop label “new” and “current” colors and the other two do not? And apparently you only need to worry about web colors in Premiere Pro and Photoshop. Of course, I could accept all those differences if there were color swatches in After Effects and Premiere Pro, as there are in Photoshop.

A similar situation is happening with type.

After Effects is left and Photoshop is right.

The After Effects and Photoshop type controls seem to have a pretty similar assortment of tools. The similarity ends there. Even the layout between font and font style are different. The differences become more dramatic when you compare After Effects and Premiere Pro.

After Effects is left, and Premiere Pro is right.

I realize the tools are very different. (I’d like them to be the same but that’s a whole other issue.) The Premiere Pro toolset includes paragraph settings that are in a separate panel in After Effects.

However, for those controls that are similar, the layout really feels so different that I almost think I’m working in some other brand’s application. I’m not sure why the type size is a scroll bar in one window and a scrollable value with pull down in another. One is labeled with px and the other isn’t. The various adjustments for kerning, leading, etc., are also quite different from one application to the next.

Now I know some of my layout issues might not be easy to change because of the various controls in each tool. But take a look at something as simple as where you can go to adjust keyboard shortcuts.

After Effects is left, and Premiere Pro is right.

When I refer to keyboard shortcuts, I don’t mean the interface for creating and modifying keyboard layouts. I only refer to where you need to go to get to that setting. In After Effects, it’s under the Edit menu; in Premiere Pro, it’s in the Premiere Pro menu. Make sense? (And the keyboard shortcut to get to the keyboard shortcut is slightly different.)

Even within a single application, there’s inconsistency. For example, in Premiere Pro, sometimes I use the Reveal function to find the location of a clip on my workstation.

Reveal function location in bin mode is on the left, and on the right is the same function when in the timeline.

When I right click on a clip in a timeline and look for “Reveal in Finder…” it’s near the top of the pop-up menu. But when I search for the same function while right clicking on a clip in a bin, it’s almost at the bottom of the pop-up menu. Same application, same function, different location.

I realize that for most people these differences aren’t that important. Maybe my observations seem like some of the rants about the icon changes. And I also realize that the individual applications have a long history with lots of users and that changing the location or arrangement of tools can be a huge deal. But it can be frustrating to switch between the various applications and know that some changes to these little things could make Creative Cloud more of a “collective” than just a collected group of applications.

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Panasonic Introduces Lumix S5 Hybrid Mirrorless Camera

The new Panasonic Lumix S5 full-frame mirrorless camera with the 20-60mm zoom lens

It’s been an exciting few months for full-frame mirrorless camera news, with introductions from Sony, Canon, Nikon and others. Today, Panasonic joins the pack with an introduction of its own with the introduction of the Panasonic Lumix S5 full-frame hybrid mirrorless camera. The new camera will be available later this month, in two configurations, selling for $1,999 for the body only and $2,299 for a kit that includes a 20-60mm lens. The new model is targeted at aspiring pro photographers and videographers.

Panasonic has had a strong presence in producing powerful hybrid mirrorless cameras, particularly those that used Mirco Four Thirds sensors, like the Lumix GH5, a model that shoots both excellent still photos and videos. That power has been built into the full-frame mirrorless S-series cameras, launched in the spring of 2019. However, some photographers and videographers complained the three models in the Lumix S-series line—the S1, S1R and S1H—were on the heavy side. The lightest, the S1R, is still more than 2 lbs. Panasonic’s answer to this has been the new S5, which is just a little over 1.5 lbs. In fact, The S5 is more compact and lighter than even the Lumix GH5.

The Panasonic Lumix S5 full-frame mirrorless camera with the 20-60mm zoom lens (top view)

The new Panasonic Lumix S5 full-frame hybrid mirrorless camera may be a more compact and lightweight S-series Lumix camera, but it’s packed with features. Here’s some of the most notable features mentioned in the announcement:

  • The Lumix S5 has a 24.2-megapixel BSI image sensor (without a low pass filter).
  • It features its Dual Native ISO technology, for lower noise in high ISO settings.
  • 96-megapixel high-resolution mode (an in-camera composite mode) for RAW and JPEGs.
  • Dual SD memory-card slots: Slot one is compatible with UHS-I/UHS-II U3/UHS-II V90 and slot two is compatible with UHS-1 U3 cards.
  • 5-axis Built-in Image Stabilization system provides 6.5 stops of compensation (with compatible lenses with optical IS).
  • Improved autofocus with face/eye/head/body recognition and better video AF.
  • ISO 100 – ISO 51200 (which can be extended to ISO 50 – ISO 204,800).
  • 10-bit video recording  (4K 60p 4:2:0 10-bit / 4K 30p 4:2:2 10-bit).
  • No time limit on shooting 4K 30p 8-bit video (although 10-bit video has a 30-minute time cap).
  • 2,360-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and 1,840K swiveling touchscreen LCD
  • Includes a variety of slow-motion and time-lapse video options.
  • 14+ stops V-Log / V-Gamut.
  • Includes USB power supply and charging, and both Wi-Fi 5GHz and Bluetooth connectivity.

Panasonic also pointed out that the new model incorporates the “heat-dissipating structure” they developed for both the GH5 and S1H.

You can learn more on the new camera by checking out the field review video from our partner website, Imaging Resource.  For additional information, see the press release below.

The Panasonic Lumix S5 full-frame mirrorless camera with the 20-60mm zoom lens (back view)
The Panasonic Lumix S5 full-frame mirrorless camera with the 20-60mm zoom lens (back angled view)
The Panasonic Lumix S5 full-frame mirrorless camera with the 20-60mm zoom lens (front view)

 

[[ press release ]]

New Hybrid Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera, the LUMIX S5 Featuring Exceptional Image Quality in High Sensitivity Photo/Video And Stunning Mobility

Newark, NJ – (September 2, 2020) Panasonic is delighted to announce the new LUMIX S5, a new hybrid full-frame mirrorless camera that achieves both excellent performance in photo/video and stunning mobility for serious photographers and videographers.

At the heart of the camera, the LUMIX S5 contains a 24.2-megapixel 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor that boasts a wide dynamic range and high sensitivity performance. The LUMIX S5 further realizes recording maximum ISO 51,200 crystal-clear high sensitivity video with the adoption of the Dual Native ISO technology.

As a pioneer of photo/video hybrid mirrorless cameras, LUMIX has the largest lineup of cameras that record 4K 10-bit video*1. As the latest member of the family, the LUMIX S5 is capable of 4K 60p/50p4:2:0 10-bit, and 4K 30p/25p 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording. It is also capable of 4K 60p/50p 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output. For 4K 30p 4:2:0 8-bit internal recording, there is no time limit. Panasonic’s exceptional heat dispersion technology delivers stable, long-time video recording. The LUMIX S5 provides 14+ stops of dynamic range, which is as wide as those of cinema cameras, and V-Log / V-Gamut compatibility with popular colorimetry called “VariCam Look.”  A variety of recording formats and modes including 4:3 Anamorphic mode, Slow & Quick Motion, 4K/60p interval shooting and 4K HDR are also provided.

The LUMIX S5 boasts high-speed, high-precision AF (Auto Focus) in both photo shooting and video recording that are made possible with advanced deep-learning technology featuring real-time detection of the subject’s type and features such as human eye, face, head and body.

Combining the Body I.S. (5-axis) in the camera and the O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer, 2-axis) in the LUMIX S Series lens, the 5-axis Dual I.S.2 prevents blurred images with the use of a 6.5-stop*2 slower shutter speed. The splash/dust-resistant rugged design provides professional photographers with high reliability.

To enhance the photographic experience, the 96-megapixel High Resolution Mode (JPEG/RAW), Live View Composite function and HLG Photo mode are available.

Thanks to the high energy efficiency and a new 2,200mAh high-capacity battery, it can capture approximately 470 pictures (using the LVF) / 1,500 pictures (in Power Save LVF mode). Power and charging are possible via the USB-C port. Double SD Card slot (UHS-IIx1 and UHS-I x1), 5GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity are also supported. The LUMIX S Series full-frame mirrorless camera system adopts the L-Mount system to provide users with a diverse and future-proof range of products from Panasonic, Leica Camera and Sigma. Panasonic now offers four innovative models in the LUMIX S Series of full-frame Digital Single Lens Mirrorless cameras – the S1R, the S1, the S1H, and the new S5. The LUMIX S1R is ideal for taking high-resolution images, the LUMIX S1 is an advanced hybrid camera for high-quality photos and videos, and the LUMIX S1H is designed and developed specifically for film production. The LUMIX S5 packs the essence of these conventional S Series cameras in a compact, lightweight body. With this lineup, Panasonic is committed to meeting the demands of all creators by challenging the constant evolution of the photo/video culture in today’s new digital era.

*1 *Of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, as of September 2, 2020.
*2 Based on the CIPA standard [Yaw/Pitch direction: focusing distance f=200mm when S-E70200 is used. Firmware must be updated to the latest version.
  1. High image quality even in high sensitivity photo/video and Dual I.S. to suppress virtually any type of blurring

The LUMIX S5 contains a 24.2-megapixel 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor (35.6 mm x 23.8mm). The LUMIX S5 boasts a wide dynamic range and reproduces sharp images with exceptional clarity. Noise is minimized even when shot at maximum ISO 51,200 high sensitivity. It is an ideal camera to use especially in low-light situations.

The LUMIX S5 features Dual Native ISO sensitivity, the technology that was first introduced in the Panasonic professional cinema camera VariCam line-up. Normally, noise increases as sensitivity rises with a single native ISO image sensor. However, the image sensor with Dual Native ISO in the S5 minimizes noise generation by choosing an optimal circuit to use according to the sensitivity before gain processing. As a result, it allows a maximum ISO 51,200 high sensitivity recording. Dual Native ISO gives film creators a greater variety of artistic choices as well as the ability to use less light on the set, saving time. The LUMIX S5’s Dual Native ISOs are 640 and 4000*1

Taking full advantage of its high-resolution sensor, the LUMIX S5 provides a High Resolution mode that faithfully reproduces precise details to be saved as beautiful, highly realistic images not only RAW but also in JPEG. Eight consecutive images are automatically shot while shifting the sensor using the Body I.S. (Image Stabilizer) mechanism and synthesized into a 96-megapixel equivalent (12,000 x 8,000-pixel) image by the Venus Engine, which boasts high-speed signal processing. This high-resolution photo is ideal for landscape photography of stationary subjects or artwork with delicate details using a tripod. However, it can also be used in situations where moving subjects are included in the scene, by switching the sub mode.

The LUMIX S5 integrates the Body I.S. (Image Stabilizer) for powerful handshake correction. Panasonic developed an algorithm that precisely calculates shaky movements sensed by the gyro sensor, image sensor and accelerometer sensor. This enables more accurate shake detection and compensation, making it possible to use a 5-stop slower shutter speed*2. Combining the Body I.S. (5-axis) in the camera and the O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer, 2-axis) in the LUMIX S Series lens, the 5-axis Dual I.S. 2 the correction power is maximized to allow 6.5-stop slower shutter speed*3. It is highly beneficial in telephoto shots and in adverse situations, such as in low-light or with one-handed shooting. The 5-axis Dual I.S. 2 works for both photo and video recording, including 4K. The Body I.S. compensates for camera movement even when other L-Mount lenses without O.I.S. are used.

With the new Live View Composite function, the camera releases the shutter at designated intervals of exposure time and synthesizes the parts with high luminosity to produce a single picture. While the total brightness of each consecutive image is accumulated in bulb shooting, only the target subject, the bright parts of an image, are detected and the user can synthesize them carefully while seeing it in live view. This is useful for capturing shots of fireworks or stars in the night sky where the background needs no gain-increase.

*1 When recording mode is set to V-Log. The sensitivity varies depending on the recording mode.
*2 Based on the CIPA standard [Yaw/Pitch direction: focusing distance f=60mm when S-R2060 is used.
*3 Based on the CIPA standard [Yaw/Pitch direction: focusing distance f=200mm when S-E70200 is used
  1. Exceptional video recording performance for cinema-quality film creation

As a pioneer of photo/video hybrid mirrorless cameras, LUMIX has the largest lineup*1 of cameras that record 4K 10-bit video. As the latest member of the family, the LUMIX S5 is capable of 4K 60p 4:2:0 10-bit, and 4K 30p 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording up to 30 minutes. It is also capable of 4K 60p4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output. For 4K 30p 4:2:0 8-bit internal recording, there is no time limit. It will comply with RAW video output to ATOMOS NINJA V over HDMI as well as C4K video recording with the future firmware update (which will be detailed in Chapter 6).

Dynamic range measures the luminance range that a digital camera can capture. The LUMIX S5 delivers 14+ stops of Dynamic Range, which are virtually the same as those of the Panasonic cinema cameras, to precisely reproduce everything from dark to bright areas. The ability to capture accurate colors and rich skin tones is a must for any filmmaker. The LUMIX S5 imports the renowned colorimetry of the VariCam lineup of cinema cameras. The LUMIX S5 contains V-Log/V-Gamut capture to deliver a high dynamic range and broad colors. V-Log renders a very flat image while maintaining all of the color information within the image. This means that there is a greater level of play when the images are put through post-production processes. The CMOS sensor of the LUMIX S5 achieves a wide color gamut known as V-Gamut, which is the S5’s optimum color space and achieves a color space that is wider than BT.2020. V-Log has log curve characteristics that are somewhat reminiscent of negative film and V-Gamut delivers a color space even larger than film. 35 conversion LUTs for VariCam cinema cameras can be downloaded free of charge for use in the LUMIX S5. It is easy to match the color tone with the footage recorded in V-Log of S1H/S1 and V-Log L of GH5/GH5S. Practical tools like a Waveform Monitor and V-Log View Assist are also available.

With Slow & Quick mode, impressive video slow and quick motion video in 4K(1-60fps, 30x quick to 2.5x slow) or in FHD (1-180fps, 60x quick to 7.5x slow) is available. It is possible to use AF*2 to capture the subject in sharp focus in this mode, too. It can also be accessed directly using the mode dial.

The HDR (High Dynamic Range) video recording in 4K is also available, which reproduces both the bright parts and dark parts of an image, making it appear as if seen in person. The camera records video with a designated gamma curve compatible with ITU-R BT.2100, and the user can now choose Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) in Photo Style. The HLG*3 Photo mode provides a wider dynamic range to reproduce light and shadow with more natural contrast. The HLG Photos can also be produced as an HSP file*4 with compressed high-brightness signals in its full resolution (5,888 x 3,312, in 16:9) in addition to JPEG/RAW files. The user can playback these vibrant images on the latest Panasonic HLG-compliant 4KTV via HDMI cable connection or other HLG-compliant devices.

For more continuous burst shooting, 6K PHOTO*5 makes it possible to capture unmissable moments at 30 fps by extracting the frame with the best timing out of a 6K burst file (in 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio) to save as an approximate 18-megapixel equivalent high-resolution photo.

*1 Of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, as of September 2, 2020
*2 The AF mode switches to MF when the frame rate is set to of 150 fps or more. The angle of view is reduced when the frame rate is set to 180 fps. Recording stops when the continuous recording time exceeds 30 minutes.
*3 “HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)” is an international standard (ITU-R BT.2100) HDR format.
*4 “HSP” is an HDR picture format using HLG format video technology.
*5 6K PHOTO’ is a high speed burst shooting function that cuts a still image out of a 4:3 or 3:2 video footage with approx.18-megapixel (approx. 6000 x 3000 effective pixel count) that the 6K image manages. 
  1. High-speed, high-precision AF achieved supported by real-time detection technology

The LUMIX S5 boasts high-speed, high-precision AF in both photo shooting and video recording. Combining the Contrast AF with DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology, it focuses on the target in approximately 0.08 sec*1. As a camera that excels in low-light shooting, the LUMIX S5 boasts -6EV*2 luminance detection performance with Low Light AF thanks to the higher sensitivity and optimized tuning of the sensor. Allowing maximum 480 fps communication speed between the sensor and the lens, users can take full advantage of this high-speed, high-precision AF when LUMIX S Series lens is used.

The LUMIX S5 also incorporates an advanced deep learning technology that detects specific subjects like humans and fast-moving animals. Notably for humans, the head is separately recognized from the eye, face and body by real-time detection technology to provide even more precise focusing. The camera continually tracks an individual even if they move quickly, turn their back to the camera, tilt their head or move far away from the camera. On the other hand, improvements to the DFD technology has enhanced AFC, which also enables users to keep tracking small or fast-moving subjects to capture them in crisp focus.

*1 11EV, at wide-end with S-R24105 (CIPA) in LVF120 fps setting.
*2 At ISO100, F1.4, AFS
  1. Reliable basic performance and expandability for creative freedom

The LUMIX S5 boasts outstanding mobility yet excels in basic performance and expandability. To withstand heavy field use, the LUMIX S5 is composed of a magnesium alloy full die-cast body and is splash/dust-resistant*1. With an optimum layout of heat dispersion components, heat is effectively transferred outside which results in stable, continuous video recording for a long time.

The LUMIX S5 has a large LVF (Live View Finder) with a high magnification ratio of approx. 0.74x. High-precision, high-speed OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display features 2,360K-dot high resolution. Adoption of OLED for the LVF achieves high speed response with minimum time lag of less than 0.005 sec. With an eyepoint of approximately 20 mm, it offers high visibility with comfort for users wearing glasses.

A 3.0-inch free-angle LCD in 3:2 aspect with 1,840K-dot high resolution provides touch control. Composition during recording in various popular aspect ratios such as 16:9, 4:3, 1:1, 4:5, 5:4 and 9:16 can be checked with the Frame Marker function. The REC Frame Indicator identifies whether the camera is recording or not.

The LUMIX S5 has a double SD Memory Card slot. One slot complies with UHS-I and the other with the high-speed, high-capacity UHS-II (Video Class 90). The camera’s battery can be recharged either via AC or USB according to the user’s convenience.

Compatibility with Bluetooth 4.2 (called BLE: Bluetooth Low Energy) enables constant connection with a smartphone/tablet with minimum power consumption. The settings of a LUMIX S5 camera can also be copied and transmitted wirelessly to other S5 cameras when using multiple S5 cameras. Wi-Fi 5-GHz (IEEE802.11ac) *2 also is effective in addition to 2.4-GHz (IEEE802.11b/g/n.) This provides secure and stable connection on location for smooth remote control and high-speed data transfer.

*1 Dust and Splash Resistant does not guarantee that damage will not occur if this lens is subjected to direct contact with dust and water.
*2 5GHz Wi-Fi is not available in some countries.
  1. Optional accessories and application software

A variety of accessories can be used for the LUMIX S5 to enhance its usability and convenience. Microphone Adaptor (DMW-XLR1) is a plug-in type adaptor for an XLR microphone to record high-quality stereo sound. It is ideal for lip-sync recording. Dedicated switches allow direct, quick control. MIC, LINE and CONDENSER MICROPHONES are switchable. Battery Grip (DMW-BGS5) allows approximately 940 pictures (using the LVF) / 3000 pictures (in Power Save LVF mode) with an extra battery inside the grip. More accessories such as Remote Shutter (DMW-RS2), DC coupler (DMW-DCC17), Tripod Grip (DMW-SHGR1) are available.

Application software LUMIX Tether enables tethered shooting via USB. Users can control the camera by connecting it to a PC via USB. It lets them view the image on a large PC screen while shooting. For live streaming, LUMIX Tether for Streaming (Beta) with LIVE VIEW mode can be used.

The LUMIX Sync application for iOS/Android devices enables photo transmission to a smartphone or a tablet via easy wireless connection. It also allows remote control of the camera using these devices.

  1. Future Firmware Update

To further enhance its performance, a firmware update is scheduled for the LUMIX S5 by the end of 2020. In addition to C4K video recording, it will support RAW video data output to ATOMOS NINJA V over HDMI at a resolution of 5.9K (5888×3312) 29.97p/25p, 4K(4128×2176) 59.94p/50p and Anamorphic 3.5K (3536×2656)/50p. A variety of video recording assist functions such as the Vector Scope Display, Master Pedestal Adjustment and SS/Gain Operation(SEC/ISO, ANGLE/ISO, SEC/dB) will also be available. L.MonochromeS and L.ClassicNeo are the new options to be added for Photo Style.

The Lumix S5 will be available at valued channel partners in mid-September for $1999.99 for the body only and $2299.99 with a 20-60 kit lens.

 

 

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Building A Travel Audio Recording Toolkit

When you travel and need to shoot on location, it’s helpful if you’ve assembled a capable yet streamlined travel audio recording toolkit.

For those outside the filmmaking business, video is often regarded as purely a visual medium, for obvious reasons. But those of us who actually create films understand the importance of audio in a project and how it can be as essential as the visual components of a production.

It’s why this Audio Assist column focuses on creating your own audio recording toolkit. And not just any audio toolkit, but one small enough and lightweight enough to take on the road with you.

It’s important to note that building any on-location travel audio recording toolkit will depend on the types of shoots you support. So, for instance, some of you might need to choose additional or different gear. I’ve attempted to make this toolkit compact, lightweight, affordable, capable and, most importantly, flexible, so that it might be used to record sound for a variety of projects, including narrative, documentary, corporate, event or reality television. Additionally, I wanted the kit to be able to work on its own or when it’s combined with other components. 

But Do You Actually Need A Travel Audio Recording Toolkit?

Before we begin, some projects might not need an audio kit at all. In some cases, the audio features of your camera may be good enough. But you need to research which camera you’ll be using, since on-camera audio recording wildly varies when it comes to recording sound. Some are decent and usable, but many record audio with terrible sound quality.

For example, an inexpensive mirrorless hybrid, DSLR or prosumer type of video camcorder won’t generally produce great quality audio. Often, even if the camera has a mic input, it’s going to be a plastic, 3.5mm stereo input.

It’s also typical for these cameras to feature low-cost, low sound quality microphone pre-amps and, in many cases, especially in the sub-$1,000 range, the overall audio chain may be substandard, producing audio with tinny, limited dynamic range and a poor signal-to-noise ratio. The plastic inputs themselves often become loose or break with repeated use. Many low-cost cameras don’t even have a headphone jack to allow you to monitor what the camera is recording.

Interestingly, many higher-end cameras also have substandard audio but for different reasons: In high-end cameras, it’s assumed that every sound shoot will have a sound mixer, recording high-quality sound into an external recorder. Most high-end cameras have audio inputs simply for recording scratch audio, nothing more, so the audio circuitry typically isn’t great, either.

Ironically, I’ve found that mid-level cameras like the Sony PXW-FX7 Mark II, the Canon EOS C300 Mark II, Canon EOS C200 or Panasonic EVA1 often have better sound quality than more expensive, higher-end cameras (models that cost over $50,000).

It’s why even the most inexpensive audio recorders have superior sound to even the best-sounding camera. And the good news is that there are a lot of choices for audio recorders for location sound. Almost all of them have at least good sound, and the majority of them sound great, especially when compared to camera audio.  

Travel Audio Recording Toolkit
For some projects, recording in-camera sound will suffice, provided the camera has high-quality microphone pre-amps and good-quality sound recording capabilities. The Sony PXW-FX9 is an example of such a camera that offers such high-quality in-camera audio recording.

Recorders And Recorder/Mixers

Since we are assembling a travel audio recording toolkit, we’re going to keep the priority on size and weight. No matter how you travel, the smaller the size and lighter the weight, the better.

We are also going to prioritize for just a small amount of microphone inputs; usually, three or four microphone inputs are adequate for a travel recorder, but not always. There are plenty of recorder/mixers on the market with 10 or more channel/inputs, but most of these units are physically larger and heavier than the smallest units on the market.

I’ve tested both of the recorder/mixers featured below. They’re both excellent choices for assembling a small, lightweight location sound recording toolkit, although each has its advantages and disadvantages. Research which features matter most to you: You get more channels and inputs on the Zoom, but the Sound Devices unit has 32-bit floating point audio recording, which allows you to dramatically recover or change audio levels after recording.

Travel Audio Recording Toolkit

Travel Audio Recording Toolkit
The Zoom F4 features four TRS/XLR line/microphone inputs.
  • Zoom F4 ($549): The Zoom F4 is a sound-bag-friendly, multi-track field recorder with look-ahead limiters for distortion-free 24-bit audio and up to 6-input/8-track recording for filmmaking and video content creation. It also has headphone and balanced-line outputs, precision time code and sync features, versatile multi-track modes and Ambisonics support for VR/AR/360 audio.

The Sound Devices MixPre-3 II features 32-bit floating point audio recording and offers two XLR inputs on one side and a single XLR input on the opposite side of the unit.
  • Sound Devices MixPre-3 II ($680): The MixPre-3 II is a three-channel/five-track multi-track field recorder that can record up to three tracks of external sources, plus a stereo mix at up to 32-bit/192 kHz while monitoring your audio headphones. It records at 32-bit floating point audio to an internal SD card and can serve as an audio interface capable of 32-bit floating point streaming over USB to a Mac computer. It also comes with Kashmir analog mic pre-amps, Bluetooth for wireless control via the Wingman mobile app, a built-in time code generator and Bluetooth control.

Boom Microphone

Your primary microphone in your kit will usually be one of two types of boom microphones: A shotgun microphone or a cardioid microphone.

For recording exteriors and outdoors, you’ll obtain the best results with a shotgun microphone, since it rejects more off-axis noise than most other microphone types. For reflective interior environments, a cardioid, hyper-cardioid or super-cardioid microphone will work best, since it will pick up fewer room reflections.

The Røde NTG5 is an excellent value since it not only sounds very good but also includes a full accessory kit.
  • Shotgun Microphone: Røde NTG5 Moisture-Resistant Short Shotgun ($499): Røde’s NTG5 moisture-resistant shotgun microphone lets you capture natural, uncolored sound indoors or outside for your next indie film, TV shoot or documentary project without weighing down your kit. It sounds very good and ships as a kit with a microphone mounting system and wind protection, elevating it from just a great mic to a great mic kit for under $500.
The Audix SCX1-HC has similar sound characteristics to the industry standard, but considerably more expensive Schoeps CMC-641 mic.
  • Cardioid Microphone: Audix SCX1-HC Studio Condenser Microphone—Hypercardioid Polar Pattern ($499): If you will mostly be shooting interiors, the Audix SCX1-HC is an outstanding value. Its hypercardioid polar pattern will record fewer standing room reflections than a shotgun would. It’s also fairly neutral, rendering sounds as your ears hear them for a natural, open sound. The package includes an external foam windscreen for reducing wind, sibilance and pop noise, a nylon molded snap-on clip and a foam-lined wooden case. You can also buy an accessory shock mount for an additional $39.

Boompole

For travel, you’ll have a better experience using a shorter, smaller and lighter travel boompole, unless you specifically need to boom talent in a wider shot, which requires a longer boompole.

The K-Tek KE79CCR Traveler is a small and lightweight travel boompole that fits into most check-in baggage and extends to almost 7 feet long.
  • K-Tek KE79CCR Traveler Aluminum Boompole With Internal Coiled Cable ($266): I purchased the KE79CCR boompole for a documentary shoot in Brazil. I was traveling alone and needed a small and lightweight pole for simple sit-down interviews. The K-Tek has performed very well over the past two years. Fully extended, it reaches nearly 7 feet and is long enough for most sit-down interviews. When collapsed, it’s small enough to fit into my suitcase, so I eliminate the need to bring a separate boompole case.

XLR Cables 

I recommend traveling with four to six 25-foot XLR cables, depending on how many microphones you plug into your recorder. Even if you are only using a boom and a lavalier for interviews, it’s smart to bring a couple of spare cables.

I’ve found buying shorter 10-foot to 15-foot cables can save a bit of weight in your travel kit, but the times I have traveled with only shorter cables, I have regretted not bringing longer cables. I also like to have four different colors so that you can assign one color to a boom and one to lavs, and you can easily tell them apart.

The Kopul Performance 3000 XLR cables come in several colors and are heavy duty and not too heavy.
  • Kopul Premium Performance 3000 Series XLR M to XLR F Microphone Cable ($16)

Lavalier Microphones

It’s always a good idea to have a subject double miked in case one microphone has a technical problem. In such cases, you have a backup. And lavalier mics are great for recording a second channel on talent.

One question you’ll need to ask yourself—do you need to bring wireless lavaliers? One thing to consider for your travel kit is this: If you can avoid wireless lavaliers, you will typically end up with better-quality sound if you can avoid using any wireless microphone systems.

If you are only shooting sit-down interviews or seated stationary talent in other shooting styles, use a hard-wired lavalier, not a wireless system.

But many types of shoots really require a wireless lavalier system. Walk and talks, talent moving through a scene, gimbal work with dialogue, and, of course, there are dozens of other scenarios where wireless lavaliers are necessary.

Wired Lavalier Systems: If you mostly shoot sit-down interviews with your travel kit, skip using a wireless lavalier system. You’ll save money, batteries, weight and bulk, too.

The Sanken COS-11D is an industry-standard lavalier microphone that cuts well with most popular shotgun microphones.
  • Sanken COS-11D Miniature Omnidirectional Lavalier Mic with XLR Output ($469): This omnidirectional lavalier mic is intended for professional speech capturing in sound reinforcement, presentation, theatrical, broadcast and recording applications. Its miniature capsule yields a wide frequency response, omnidirectional polar pattern.

Wireless Lavalier Systems

Here are three wireless options for lavalier microphones:

The Lectrosonics L Series ZS-LRLMb Camera Mount Wireless Omni Lavalier System is a top-of-the-line professional wireless lavalier system.
  • Lectrosonics L Series ZS-LRLMb Camera Mount Wireless Omni Lavalier System Microphone System ($2,399): This model is a camera-mounted wireless microphone system that offers filmmakers, journalists and videographers a set of advanced features designed to deliver flexibility and broadcast-quality sound for professional ENG and video productions. If you speak with professional sound mixers, Lectrosonics is considered the industry-standard wireless lavalier, and for good reason. It offers the longest range (UHF) and greatest consistency. The products are pricey. However, if you have the budget for it, you won’t regret buying a Lectrosonics system.
The Sennheiser EW 512P is a popular UHF wireless lavalier system that offers greater range than other Sennheiser lavalier systems.
  • Sennheiser EW 512P G4 Camera Mount Wireless Omni Lavalier Microphone System ($899): The rugged EW 512P G4 combines a wide 88 MHz bandwidth with 3,520 frequencies and an RF output level up to 50 mW for a clean transmission and broadcast-quality sound. The Sennheisers are regarded as good-quality, mid-range (UHF) lavalier systems. The EW 512P G4 won’t have the same range or features as the Lectrosonics system, but it is much more affordable.
The Deity Connect is a two-channel 2.4GHz diversity wireless lavalier system with a lot of pro features at a very reasonable cost.
  • Deity Microphones Deity Connect Dual-Channel True Diversity Wireless System ($669): Unlike the Lectrosonics or Sennheiser systems, both of which are UHF, the Connect operates in the 2.4GHz frequency. The other big difference is, the Connect offers two channels, with two transmitters and a two-channel receiver for less than $700. The 2.4GHz system has slightly more latency than the UHF systems and not as long range but may offer perfectly acceptable results in many line-of-site situations.

Audio Bag

You’ll generally need an audio bag to use with your travel kit. It’s great to keep your mixer/recorder safe and secure while traveling or shooting. You’ll also keep your options for powering your recorder mixer and possibly powering wireless microphone receivers in the bag as well. Here are two bags to consider:  

The Porta Brace AR-F4 Case is custom-designed to hold not only the Zoom F4 Recorder but also wireless receivers and other accessories.
  • Porta Brace AR-F4 Custom-Fit Cordura Case for the Zoom F4 Recorder ($189): The Porta-Brace AR-F4 is a portable case made specifically for the Zoom F4 recorder, giving you an abrasion-resistant 1000-denier Cordura nylon construction, as well as two rigid frame panels to ensure protection.
The K-Tek Stingray MixPro is designed to hold the smaller MixPre-3 II and MixPre-6 II recorders.
  • The K-Tek Stingray MixPro Audio Bag for MixPre-3 II ($190): The K-Tek Stingray MixPro Audio Bag is designed for Sound Devices’ MixPre-3 and MixPre-6 recorders as well as a couple of wireless systems, NP-1 batteries and various accessories.

Miscellaneous Accessories

There are many audio accessories to fine-tune your travel audio recording toolkit to your specific needs.

One to consider is power options: If you have a location sound audio bag, either solution provided here gives you enough room to include an optional add-on battery or BDS (Battery Distribution System) to power every accessory and recorder in your bag.

Another accessory you might need is a Bluetooth or WiFi solution for wirelessly distributing your time code if you can’t run a BNC cable from the recorder to camera.

The components and options we’ve assembled here will result in a high-quality, pro-level travel audio toolkit that can be modified in countless ways to support larger shoots with more cameras, more microphones and more accessories. For example, you might introduce IFB systems to send your sound to the director wirelessly if the director isn’t you or you need to have clients or other crew monitor the sound as well.

What’s convenient is that the components I suggest for your kit are small and lightweight enough to fit into a camera bag or backpack, too, and offer you audio capabilities that just a few years ago would not have been available in such a small size and economical price.

The post Building A Travel Audio Recording Toolkit appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Cables Matter—Test Your Connections

I recently wrote about testing an SSD. As I opened the packaging and noticed the cables that came with it, I started thinking about all the different cables I’ve acquired over the years. While I always try to use the cables that come with equipment, for some reason I seem to end up with extras.

In the past, figuring out cables wasn’t much of an issue. USB and the various flavors of Firewire weren’t interchangeable—their connectors were obviously different. You instantly knew which cable you needed to use. Now, with various iterations of USB and Thunderbolt, it starts to get a little messy because the connectors appear identical.

Just to prove the point, I did some tests with a portable SSD drive.

Speed test results
Speed test results of reading and writing a 4 GB 4K ProRes 4444 file.

The speed using one cable was even slower than some spinning disks. So, then I tried another cable I had lying around.

The only difference between this test and the previous one is the cable.
The only difference between this test and the previous one is the cable.

The difference is dramatic. With the right cable, I was able to get close to the maximum specification for the SSD’s read and write speeds. Even though I used high-performance storage, there was a significant speed difference.

test your connections
With an SSD array, this speed looks okay at first glance.

I tried the same cable test using an SSD array. When the numbers get into four digits, you think you’re doing well.

test your connections
Once again, a change in cables changes the speed.

The only thing I changed was the cable, but speeds increased for both read and write. I could go into a long explanation of what’s going wrong. That explanation would involve comparing various technologies, and it would probably include a rant about how the people naming USB connections keep making things harder.

Unfortunately, since cables aren’t always well marked (the two I used in this test had no markings to differentiate them), it might not provide guidance for all situations.

Instead, I recommend to always test your connections. Software to test drive speed is available, for free, from AJA and Blackmagic Design. Run the test with any new drive and cable combination, and make sure you get the speed you expect. Don’t assume that you’re getting the performance you expect, prove it.

The post Cables Matter—Test Your Connections appeared first on HD Video Pro.

PhotoPlus Expo 2020 ‘In-Person’ Show Is Canceled

This year’s “in-person” version of the PhotoPlus Expo, which is generally held in October at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, has been canceled, but according to Emerald Expositions, which owns the show, PhotoPlus Expo will be going virtual starting November 1.

Emerald Expositions announced “we have decided to cancel our in-person event at the Javits Center in NYC, NY scheduled for October 22-24, 2020.” Most in the photo industry anticipated the show would be virtual, just as many other trade shows have done so this year, including the NAB 2020 show in Las Vegas, Cinegear LA in Los Angeles and also the 2021 CES show, which is also generally held in Las Vegas.

The reason is due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The difficult decision was made after consulting our community partners and supporters and closely monitoring the ongoing progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., including the latest government data, measures, and guidelines on the phased reopening plans in the U.S.; current restrictions on congregating and large gatherings imposed by states and other government and public health authorities; and the various company-imposed travel restrictions on employees, affecting attendees and participating companies.” The company also said, “Our goal is always to support, inspire and celebrate this remarkable community, and while we are disappointed we won’t be able to do this in person this year, the safety of our community is our top priority.”

In response, the company has decided to launch the show as a virtual, online experience, with a “full slate of content” starting November 1. You can register at www.PHOTOPLUSexpo.com

The company also noted the “in-person” show would return to New York City in October 2021.

For more, see the following announcement, from Joseph Kowalsky, Show Director of PhotoPlus Expo:

[[press release:]]

PHOTOPLUS is extremely proud to announce PHOTOPLUS+, an online experience and community bringing together visual storytellers with the tools and services they need to create. PHOTOPLUS+ will provide a home for photographers, filmmakers and our brands to connect not just once a year, but year-round.

PHOTOPLUS+ will offer a rich and immersive experience including product showcases, live demos, gear launches, networking opportunities and educational content. Registration for PHOTOPLUS+ is already open and available through www.PHOTOPLUSexpo.com and will launch with a full slate of content November, 1 of this year.

Since 1983, PHOTOPLUS has brought the photography and video communities together each fall to connect, share ideas, and experience the newest imaging technology.  Our goal is always to support, inspire and celebrate this remarkable community, and while we are disappointed we won’t be able to do this in person this year, the safety of our community is our top priority.  To that end, we have decided to cancel our in-person event at the Javits Center in NYC, NY scheduled for October 22-24, 2020.

 

The difficult decision was made after consulting our community partners and supporters and closely monitoring the ongoing progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., including the latest government data, measures, and guidelines on the phased reopening plans in the U.S.; current restrictions on congregating and large gatherings imposed by states and other government and public health authorities; and the various company-imposed travel restrictions on employees, affecting attendees and participating companies.

 

“The photography market has been one of the markets hardest hit by COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped advancements in technology or important and inspiring work from our community.  Now, more than ever, we’ve seen the essential role imagery plays in our lives and the stories we tell.  I have no doubt in the strength and resilience of our industry. We will continue to work and find ways to connect visual storytellers with the brands that help them create,” said Joe Kowalsky, Show Director for PHOTOPLUS. “This is the beginning of something bigger that can help our industry achieve success 365 days a year. We can’t wait to see what we create together,” added Kowalsky.

 

PHOTOPLUS looks forward to uniting with the photography and video communities at the next full-scale and in-person show slated for October 2021 in NYC.  PHOTOPLUS will provide more information, dates and plans for 2021 as they become available over the coming months.  Every decision made for the in-person event will ensure we host a successful, safe and healthy event for our exhibitors and attendees.  

Sincerely,
Joseph Kowalsky
Show Director
PHOTOPLUS

The post PhotoPlus Expo 2020 ‘In-Person’ Show Is Canceled appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Latest Update To Adobe Lightroom CC App Deleted Photographers’ Photos

The conventional wisdom for pro photographers is that when there’s an update for one of your important mobile apps—let’s say an app like Adobe Lightroom CC—you download and install the update, in order to optimize the app, perhaps to make it speedier or more efficient.

Unfortunately, some photographers experienced the opposite of that: For the past couple of days, content creators on various social media forums have been posting their angry complaints about losing photos and presets after updating Adobe Lightroom’s iOS app to Lightroom 5.4.0 on iPhone and iPad, according to a number of photography websites, including Petapixel, where the story first appeared. (According to reports, photographers lost photos and presets that were not synched to the cloud.)  

According to a number of sources, affected users will be unable to retrieve their photos.

The problem was reported on a number of online photography forums on August 18, including one of Adobe’s online forums, which included an official response (from Adobe representative Rikk Flohr), who wrote:

We are aware that some customers who updated to Lightroom 5.4.0 on iPhone and iPad may be missing photos and presets that were not synced to the Lightroom cloud.

A new version of Lightroom mobile (5.4.1) for iOS and iPadOS has now been released that prevents this issue from affecting additional customers.

Installing version 5.4.1 will not restore missing photos or presets for customers affected by the problem introduced in 5.4.0.

We know that some customers have photos and presets that are not recoverable. We sincerely apologize to any customers who have been affected by this issue.

If you are affected by this issue, please refer to the information in this forum thread.

Adobe also responded on August 20, by including the following information on its website, stating: 

Some customers who updated to Lightroom 5.4.0 on iPhone and iPad may be missing photos and/or presets. This affected customers using Lightroom mobile without a subscription to the Adobe cloud. It also affected Lightroom cloud customers with photos and presets that had not yet synced to the Adobe cloud.

Note:

No assets in the Lightroom cloud were lost or are at risk. Lightroom mobile on Android, Lightroom desktop on macOS and Windows, as well as Lightroom Classic are not affected.

A new version of Lightroom mobile (5.4.1) for iOS and iPadOS has now been released that prevents this issue from affecting additional customers. 

Installing version 5.4.1 will not restore missing photos or presets for customers affected by the problem introduced in 5.4.0.

We know that some customers have photos and presets that are not recoverable. We know how frustrating and upsetting this will be to people affected and we sincerely apologize.

Some customers affected by this issue might be able to use iPhone and iPad backups to recover photos and presets. If you are affected by this issue, please refer to the information in our forum.

Conventional wisdom also says that you should always have a back up of your work. Here’s some recent back-up solutions for most workflows.

The post Latest Update To Adobe Lightroom CC App Deleted Photographers’ Photos appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be felt for years. It has especially hit the production and entertainment industries hard as most traditional production has been at a standstill since March 2020. 

The Economic Impact Of The Pandemic On Us

I’m a video production person. I’ve been involved in digital cinema and before that traditional video production for quite a while. Since the great Pandemic of 2020, many of us have been looking at what we can utilize our skill set for to keep our heads above water during these trying times. Traditional television and film production began shutting down here in Hollywood beginning in March of 2020. So far, it hasn’t returned to any level of critical mass as of this summer. I have a few colleagues and fellow crew who have been lucky enough to get back to work, at least at some level, but I’d estimate at least 60 percent or more of my colleagues in my circle haven’t worked at all in production since March. They’ve been surviving on savings, PUA and UI money and possibly taking the odd side gig like driving an Uber or Lyft or working at an Amazon warehouse facility. Times are tough and they don’t look to be significantly improving for the remainder of the year and well into next year.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
A small shoot my production company did with Olympic Snowboarding Gold Medalist Chloe Kim at Milk Studios in Hollywood, California.

My Story

I’ve owned a small production company for about 20 years. We’ve seen all of the huge changes that have rocked our industry over the past few years. We’ve survived, but it hasn’t been easy—at all. Even with hard work, intelligent and logical strategy, the occasional far reach and taking chances to be a market disruptor in our small niche of entertainment marketing, documentary and corporate films, each year it has become more and more difficult to just survive, much less to thrive.

It’s a strange paradox that as video and digital cinema grows in popularity, streaming services compete with the traditional studios and then dominate them in the market and corporate media grows and more clients look at video as a necessary part of their business strategy, it’s become continually more difficult to make a living in this business. Part of it is simply the inevitable march toward the tools needed to create high-quality video or digital cinema are close to free. Either directly or indirectly, this phenomenon has affected all of us in production for the past 10 or so years at an increasing level each year.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
A colleague and me producing a live stream multi-camera event utilizing Live Stream Studio at Vanguard University in Cost Mesa, California, earlier this year.

Wait, I’ll Just Start Selling Live Streaming… 

I’ve been incredibly fortunate that I have a lot of different friends and colleagues in production. It just happened that in January, right before the pandemic really hit the U.S. and kicked into high gear, a friend of mine who I‘ve worked with here and there for about 15 years owns a live streaming company. He’s been in the business for the past decade so he’s the “old hand” at live streaming. Even though I haven’t worked in live television for such a long time, it was enjoyable to TD (technical direct) a live multi-camera event for my friend’s company in January. As the Pandemic loomed over us in February and then into March, my friend and I were in touch every few days. I had a sizeable chunk of shoots that were scheduled in March outright cancel as quarantine came in. I lost about $15,000 worth of booked projects in March and another $10,000 in April from clients who hung on with their bookings convinced that the quarantine would just last a few weeks.

Speaking with my friend, he too had a lot of high school and college graduations on his schedule to live stream. All canceled. We spoke and decided that as a hedge against losing all of our business for the next few months, we’d band together and try marketing live streaming services to larger and higher-budget clients than he had been landing as his low-dollar, high-volume, bread-and-butter projects that were paying his bills. His company has a ton of live stream experience and demo reel material, and my company has higher-end production names, celebs and clients.

Strategy In Place, Searching For A Niche In The Market

Both of us have a lot of years in the media business. We broke down the live streaming market, at least the sectors we want to pursue, in the following way:

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
With quarantine, almost everyone has become a Tier 1 live streaming user. Tier 1 is the most used live streaming and, generally for a production professional, has the lowest chances of earning any money. Tier 1 is mostly DIY use of existing live streaming/web collaboration software.

Tier 1

Small business, institutional users. This sector is already using live streaming to conduct meetings, round tables and discussions. There are also teachers now utilizing live stream teaching for their students online. This market is already saturated, well served by all of the free or low-cost live streaming commodity services like Skype, Zoom, Google Meets and Microsoft Teams. We also lump in social media content creators into this category. This is the DIY sector; few people on this level have the budget or are spending much money to live stream. They mostly sit at their computers and talk to others in groups online. Production values are low to nonexistent, although there are exceptions to the rule, of course. Many people at this level are using low grade, built-in webcams on their laptops, iPhones or low-cost external webcams. In our opinion, there’s very little business opportunity here for a production company or freelancer.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
The newly released Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro ISO is a perfect tool for most Tier 2 live streaming. It offers an upgrade over the existing ATEM Mini Pro in that it can record each of five streams as separate files, allowing for editing and finessing during post-production for repurposing live stream content.

Tier 2

Basic, low end, logistically simple live multi-camera production. This level of clients may want to hire someone to live stream their event. It could be a wedding, funeral, graduation, a band’s performance, school presentations and events or low-end corporate live events. This level of production can be accomplished with small one- or two-person crews using some simple camcorders or even PTZ remote cameras, running into a laptop or a small, inexpensive switcher like the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro. There’s definitely business here and with volume operation, shooting a lot of these low-end projects, one might expect to at least survive with these sorts of live streaming projects. Generally, this level of production doesn’t center on boring talking heads sitting at computers with webcams, it’s typically driven more by documenting live events that would be happening with a live audience during pre-pandemic times. Many of these events are still happening, just without a live audience, and the entire audience moves to watch the live event online.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
My producing partner, Gregg Hall, at the Technical Director (TD) helm of our custom-built vMix Call system during a recent worldwide live stream to YouTube Live for a challenging Tier 3 live stream.

Tier 3

Mid-level corporate/institutional live streams. In this tier, we have transitioned from what most people think of and know about as “live streaming” and we’re simply producing live television over the internet. The clients have higher budgets but exponentially higher technical capability requirements. Rather than a simple Tier 2 project with two to three cameras with a PowerPoint live stream, for instance, this level of client and production may ask for much more involved scenarios and requirements.

For instance, one of our Tier 3 clients is a production company that produced a high-end feature-length documentary film. They wanted us to help them live stream the film to YouTube Live in 4K resolution. The film was also produced in a Cinemascope 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Once the film has finished, we transition to a live five- to six-person discussion panel with remote streams from India, the UK, Canada, NYC, Los Angeles and Australia. Each of the panelists in the 4K-moderated discussion is placed in their own box on-screen with animated lower third titles. As each person takes turns speaking, we’re using DVE moves to move the boxes around like tiles and the titles animate and follow each panelist. This production is unique because it’s entirely remote.

Each panelist “signs in” to our system using their own laptop or tablet. Each panelist is using headphones with a lavaliere microphone. We have “trained” each talent, since we can’t be there to shoot their live stream, to carefully frame themselves and their shot. We work with them to find soft, large lighting sources in their home or office and tweak blinds or shades to utilize the window light in their location. The end result doesn’t look as refined as we’d make it if we were there in person shooting it, but it looks and sounds better than the average Zoom or Skype call.

Each project has different requirements. We’ve produced live stream fundraising auctions that have raised over $1.2 million dollars in less than two hours. We recently produced a virtual lunch gala event for a Major League Baseball team and their fans. To execute at this level, we use a crew of at least three to six people and sometimes more if we have remote video crews on location. We have a complex, customized live streaming studio with a virtual green room where remote callers can gather in standby and speak with and receive direction from us and the producers of the live stream. We have sophisticated audio mixing capability and can support up to eight remote call-ins at once, combined with up to 10 live cameras if we’re streaming from a live shoot event.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
Entertainment Services LA, Inc. live streams large, logistically challenging events like the Beach Life Festival. This is a Tier 4 live stream that requires a sizeable team and budget to execute.

Tier 4

This tier is sort of an amorphous catch-all for sophisticated, multi-camera production for high-profile clients, the studios and TV networks. Work at this level is indistinguishable from high-end broadcast TV. Often, a mobile truck with potentially up to 30 to 40 cameras may be utilized. This level of production would often utilize crews of anywhere from 10 to 100 to execute. This would include events like music festivals; huge, lavish stage productions; big sporting events and the like.

Tier 4 projects will often have budgets that are in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Often, the live streaming part of the equation is brought in as an adjunct to the live broadcast or simply receives their input from the broadcast’s master output. But, occasionally, the live streaming team operates independently from the broadcast, such as when our team was hired to produce the Facebook Live stream at the NAACP Image Awards Red Carpet in Hollywood. BET broadcasted the awards ceremony, but we live streamed the Facebook Live stream from the Red Carpet.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
If you decide to delve into live streaming, you’d better become very familiar with dealing with CAT 5E Ethernet as well CAT 6, 6A, 7 and 8. What’s the difference? You have to study and read up to understand the differences and how they apply to your application.

If You’re Contemplating Live Streaming…

The one unifying factor about live streaming that we should talk about is this: Live streaming is very difficult to do well. No matter the level of production you’re live streaming, there are technical and strategic limitations in live streaming that you probably aren’t aware of if you haven’t done it before.

Everything is dependent on the internet from where you streaming from. This sounds obvious, but think about it. If a location has slow, unreliable or temperamental internet, this will directly affect what you and your client are trying to accomplish. If you add in a remote live stream system like we use, for each “caller” we have sign in, we now have an additional incoming internet stream to be concerned about. Our outgoing service from our remote studio can be fast and rock solid, but if a remote coming in to us from anywhere in the world is flaky, there’s zero we can do about it from our end.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
SlingStudio is touted as a wireless live streaming studio in a backpack. Just how reliable is the output though? Reliable enough for paying clients?

Reliable and Wireless?

You may have seen ads or reviews for various wireless internet live streaming solutions, some fairly expensive and fully-featured “Internet In A Backpack” solutions. We own our own expensive top-of-the-line wireless router, utilizing three different 4G-cell providers. Even with this device, wireless internet for live streaming is, at best, spotty and at its worst, an unreliable disaster. Wireless, even when it’s delivering faster-promised speeds, is all over the map with constant throughput. That’s the problem, the way wireless internet works, there are constantly new obstacles for signals to pass through and there are also constantly changing interference challenges too. Live streaming with wireless is really a no go in 2020. The full rollout of 5G wireless might change this in the near future, but if you’re contemplating streaming in 2020, forget about any solution that relies on wireless internet; it’s just not going to work well.

Live Streaming Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart
A screen capture of our vMix Call green room. Our webcast engineer figured out a way to make a green room for live streaming and its accompanying audio actually work. The tools and components were all there, but we had to customize it to work in our own scenarios. Who does this? A webcast engineer, that’s who, and I wouldn’t live stream without one because I don’t know enough about the underlying technologies to just cross my fingers and hope that the live stream works. You need expertise and troubleshooting ability when live streaming.

Expertise

I’m lucky. My business partner is an audio and webcast engineer. He’s trained and has decades of experience with internet, sound, picture, computing and troubleshooting. I will leave you with this thought: If you don’t have access to a true webcast engineer, trying to do anything above Tier 2 live streaming is going to be a disaster. Doing Tier 2 live streaming may turn into a disaster for you. If it does, how do you fix it? How do you interface with your client’s IT professionals to make sure that your system integrates with their heavily Firewall-protected network? Do you know how to set up and administer a bonded router system? Do you know how to interface and place orders with content distribution networks?

In Tier 2, you might plug into your client’s Ethernet and it might work. But if it does, how knowledgeable are you about IT and internet troubleshooting? What redundancies have you built into you’re A/V and live streaming gear? You’ll need a plan B and, often, a plan C. If your plan A stops working, you go to plan B. But if plan B doesn’t work, you must have a viable plan C. Realistically, if you’re professionally live streaming for clients for money, you need at least two of everything in your kit. Things break, malfunction, are lost, short out and stop working. Live streaming is live (mostly), so if the show is to go on, you have to have redundancies and you need a webcast engineer. Without these, it’s not a matter of if you will crash and burn for your client, but when. Even with all of these in place, you can still crash and burn; it has happened to us and it’s painful. But that’s the nature of live streaming; it’s not for the faint of heart.

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Panasonic Will Announce New Full-Frame Mirrorless LUMIX S5 On September 2

Today, Panasonic announced that it will be introducing a new full-frame mirrorless camera: “Panasonic is pleased to announce that they will hold an online launch event for the new full-frame mirrorless camera LUMIX S5.” You can see the news yourself at www.panasonic.com/global/consumer/lumix/s/s5.html on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 10:00 EDT. 

Dave Pardue, who wrote about the news for Imaging Resource, one of our partner brands, said, “It’s been some time since our friends at Panasonic treated us to a new full-frame camera body… almost a full year. The video-centric S1H model was the latest, debuting in September of 2019….”

Pardue also points out that it’s interesting to see how the numeral “5” has been popular this year. “There will now be three full-frame mirrorless cameras from 2020 with numeral ‘5’ branding, as this model joins the Canon R5 and the Nikon Z5 in the ranks of Full Frame Fives. At opposite ends of the pricing spectrum, the $3900 Canon R5 is a flagship model and is full-featured, while the $1400 Nikon Z 5 is more along the lines of an ‘entry-level full frame.’”

At this time, there are few details on the camera. We do know, however, that it will be a full-frame mirrorless camera body, joining three other Lumix models, which all hit the market in 2019: S1 (24 megapixels), S1R (47 megapixels) and S1H (24 megapixels, but with a focus on video capture).

Pardue also commented on some of the characteristics the Lumix S-series cameras share: “We’ve found all three models to be incredibly capable and robust in the field, and yet all three are somewhat heavy relative to some models in the full-frame mirrorless world. This mass helps with the robustness in terms of weather sealing and general heartiness, as well as assisting in heat dissipation while rolling high-resolution video. But of course, not everyone wants weight.”

It’ll be interesting to see how capable, full-featured and ergonomic the new Lumix S5 will be compared to the others in the Lumix S-series line as well as models from other brands. We’ll be sure to report on all the news when we hear about it in September. So stay tuned!

The post Panasonic Will Announce New Full-Frame Mirrorless LUMIX S5 On September 2 appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Audio Design Desk And Frame.io Announce Integration

Par : By Staff

Today, Audio Design Desk, a powerful audio software app targeted at filmmakers and video content creators, and Frame.io, a video review and collaboration platform, announced a partnership that would integrate the two services. The integration will exploit ADD’s sound, foley and music-design capabilities while making the most of Frame.io’s cloud-based review and collaboration platform. Key highlights of the new integrated workflow between add.app and Frame.io include:

  • Import video assets with frame-accurate comments from Frame.io directly into add.app.
  • Export/ upload sound-designed video from add.app into Frame.io, using Version Stacks to compare, side by side, different sound design options.
  • Sound elements can be tweaked or swapped out in seconds using add.app’s Sonic Intelligence, without ever losing sync.


 “Audio Design Desk and Frame.io were built for one another because they were both invented to enhance and streamline your workflow,” says Gabe Cowan, co-founder and CEO of Audio Design Desk. “Sound is half of what you see, and with add.app you can create sound for video at the speed of thought. But imagine if you could take this incredible creative tool and collaborate with people all around the world to get their ideas without ever leaving your timeline? This is now possible with the Frame.io integration. Using Frame.io’s Version Stacks, clients can now review and compare different sound and music cues against one another from virtually any online device, anywhere in the world.”

Additionally, add.app has also announced the release of a new version, dubbed Audio Design Desk Collaborate, which, the company says, “includes an optimized codebase that increases performance by up to 70%, a modernized AI-assisted importer, and perpetual licensing – one of the community’s biggest requests.”

For more on the announcement, see the press release below:

[[ press release ]]

Audio Design Desk and Frame.io Develop Integration to Redefine Audio Workflows

Tight integration between add.app and Frame.io significantly speeds and enriches audio for video workflows, enabling creators to efficiently collaborate on cinematic audio, sound effects, design and music for video from anywhere in the world. Audio Design Desk launches new importer and perpetual licensing in new update.

Los Angeles, CA – August 18, 2020 – Audio Design Desk, the award-winning creative tool that has revolutionized how artists create audio for video, has just launched a brand new integration with Frame.io, the world’s leading video review and collaboration platform. The deep integration enables a seamless roundtrip experience between the two platforms. Users can pull video assets and frame-accurate comments directly from Frame.io into Audio Design Desk for creating sound and music for video, and they can upload their work to Frame.io for collaborative review and feedback without ever leaving the timeline. Along with the new integration, the company is releasing new updates in v1.3 of the platform, dubbed Audio Design Desk Collaborate, which includes an optimized codebase that increases performance by up to 70%, a modernized AI-assisted importer, and perpetual licensing.

Audio Design Desk and Frame.io were built for one another because they were both invented to enhance and streamline your workflow,” comments Gabe Cowan, co-founder and CEO of Audio Design Desk. “Sound is half of what you see, and with add.app you can create sound for video at the speed of thought. But imagine if you could take this incredible creative tool and collaborate with people all around the world to get their ideas without ever leaving your timeline? This is now possible with the Frame.io integration. Using Frame.io’s Version Stacks, clients can now review and compare different sound and music cues against one another from virtually any online device, anywhere in the world.

Plus, we’re releasing a number of new features and updates in v1.3, including a rewrite of the underlying audio code, which now performs up to 70% faster, a more powerful importer, and perpetual licensing for our platform, one of the biggest requests from our community.”

Cinematic Audio. Redefined. For Free. 

Audio Design Desk now integrates with Frame.io to enable a seamless, roundtrip workflow between the two apps. Connect the two to import video assets and frame-accurate comments directly from Frame.io into add.app to quickly add sound effects, audio design and music for video. Users can pull from add.app’s library of 2,500 free sounds (or 25,000 for paying customers) or import their own sounds to build immersive soundscapes for their videos using add.app’s AI-assisted creative tools. Export and upload your sound-designed video to Frame.io for review, then back into add.app, with notes, when the review is complete. Using Frame.io’s Version Stacks, add.app artists can provide options for their clients so they can compare, side-by-side, different sound design or music cues options. 

Because add.app understands the exact moment sound meets image, tweaking sounds based on client or team feedback is incredibly simple; one effect can be swapped out for another, intensity can be pushed up or down, or an entire selection of sounds can be changed from one genre to another with a single click – without ever losing sync. With its rapid workflow and replacement tools, creators can quickly and easily create multiple versions in less time than it would typically take to create a single one. 

I love this integration. Audio Design Desk uses two key concepts to deliver its creative experience: real time, frame-accurate, keyboard shortcuts for adding sound effects, and a robust AI backend. A user can search for their desired feel, come back with entire sound sets, test and review in Frame.io, set their markers, and then swap entire soundscapes on the fly. It’s an incredibly smooth integration that fits perfectly with Frame.io,” states Max Baehr, Developer Relations and Partnerships at Frame.io. 

Audio Design Desk makes composing music, sound design, and sound effects faster and easier than ever before, whether for film and TV, animation, advertisements, podcasts and more. 

Audio Design Desk Collaborate Introduces Perpetual Licensing 

The latest update to the revolutionary sound design app, Audio Design Desk Collaborate now offers customers the option to purchase a software license outright, otherwise known as perpetual licensing. Under this model, customers pay one price upfront, and will have the option to upgrade at a significantly discounted price for full point upgrades. Perpetual add.app licenses are available for $399. 

Request an NFR License to Review Audio Design Desk

Members of the press can request a Not For Resale (NFR) license to review Audio Design Desk. For more information or to schedule a demo with an expert from the add.app team, contact Megan Linebarger at megan@zazilmediagroup.com

About Frame.io

Frame.io is the world’s leading cloud-based video collaboration platform, designed to streamline the entire creative process by centralizing all media assets—and all feedback—in one secure place that’s easily accessible from anywhere in the world. Frame.io integrates with major professional video tools, acting as the hub of the entire creative ecosystem. Conceived and designed by video creators, the UI is intuitive and flexible that’s grounded within a powerful platform along with a collection of award-winning iOS apps for both the iPhone and iPad. The world’s leading creators and innovators trust Frame.io every day to help power their creative workflows, including Turner Broadcasting, Disney, NASA, Snapchat, BBC, BuzzFeed, TED, Adobe, Udemy, Google, Fox Sports, Media Monks, Ogilvy, and VICE Media.

Frame.io’s purpose is to allow everyone involved in the creative process to collaborate as if they’re all in the same room, no matter where they are in the world. Frame.io redefines the modern creative workflow.

Frame.io is backed by industry heavyweights including Accel, FirstMark Capital, SignalFire, Shasta Ventures, and Insight Partners. To learn more please visit http://frame.io. Watch: What is Frame.io?

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To Green Screen Or Not To Green Screen?

Green screen can be handy for situations where you’re not able to shoot talent in a particular location.

Have you ever shot green screen? I have. A lot. Hundreds of different projects over the years. First of all, let’s get this out of the way, “green screen” has become a catch-all term that describes a process of shooting a subject against a colored backdrop that will electronically be replaced, usually through a postproduction process called compositing or keying, with another background. I’ve shot blue screen, red screen and white screen for luminance keying, but the color green is the most commonly used, so the process has come to be known as such. However, that term is a bit like Kleenex being used in place of tissue or “Coke or Pepsi” being used in place of soft drink.

This is my Westcott foldable 4×6-foot green screen set up for a shoot at the Fox lot with the showrunner of “The Simpsons.”

The Colors Of The Compositing Rainbow

Why would you want to use green or blue or red or any other color to key a subject over? Green screen is the most popular because it tends to work well with people’s skin tones since most people aren’t green unless they’re seasick or nauseated. Blue screen is more commonly used for scenes where there may be foliage or green wardrobe. Back in the days of film, blue screen tended to work better when film composites were brought into the compositing workflow pipeline. Why would you ever shoot red screen? I’ve shot red screen when shooting tropical plants that had a ton of green and blue in their natural coloring, but they had little to no red, so using a red backdrop allowed for easier keying.

There are also camera-related technical reasons why one might choose a particular color to key over. In RGB color space with most cameras, blue tends to have more noise than the green or red channels, so in that process, amplifying the blue channel can result in an increase in noise in the image. In the end, choosing the right color backdrop should be a collaboration between the cinematographer and the compositor based on what’s being shot and where, what’s being keyed, the colors of all of the objects in the scene that are shot live and several other factors.

Green screen of the rapper/actor Common
Green screen of the rapper/actor Common. We shot Common’s sequences with green screen because he couldn’t appear at the location where we were shooting the remainder of this section of the film. With higher-profile talent, if you want them to appear in your production, you have to often be flexible and come to them.

Green Screen Gets A Bad Rap

If we go back 10 or 20 years in production, shooting green/blue screen used to be much more difficult than it is in 2020. You had to really light any green or blue screen perfectly, making sure the lighting was even all of the way across the screen and at the right contrast ratio on the talent and subject versus the green/blue screen. You also had to make sure that there were no wrinkles or bunching on the physical screen itself. Fifteen years ago, keying software was good, but it wasn’t nearly as good as it is today, so generally, you just had to be much more careful about all of the details.

Your screen had to be lit nearly perfectly, and you had to mitigate the green or blue spill onto your talent from the green or blue screen itself, which required enough room on your set to physically separate the talent from the backdrop to cut down on the spill or eliminate it. Shooting and keying things like eyeglasses, where you could see the background through the edges and corners of the glasses, keying wispy blonde hair, cigarette smoke or fog effects were very difficult to pull off well. For these reasons, a good amount of shooters would end up with lousy keys with ragged edges, green edges, aliasing and other artifacts.

Cameras were often 8-bit recording in 4:2:0 color space, which meant that it was difficult to push a key or clean up a key because the bit space and color space were truncated compared to 10-bit 4:2:2. At the time, there was a huge price gap between low dollar SLRs and high dollar broadcast or digital cinema cameras that had 10-bit 4:2:2 recording capability. Today, there are fewer 8-bit 4:2:0 cameras on the market, and even low dollar cameras can record 10-bit 4:2:2 footage or even 10 or 12-bit RAW, making the recording much more robust for keying. Also, shooting at a higher resolution like 4K UHD for a 1080 project allows for more detail and increases the perceived color and detail resolution when downsampling a higher resolution image. There are so many factors in today’s cameras that allow for easier and better quality keys.

Bruce Miller
Bruce Miller is the showrunner for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which shoots in Canada. We weren’t able to shoot Bruce’s interview on set, so we used green screen to shoot him in his LA production office, then composited him into background plates that were shot on set in Canada.

Why Shoot Green Screen?

The decision to shoot or not shoot green screen is an important one. I’ve shot a lot of green interviews where when speaking with the producer or director, the logical question is, “What will the background be?” Most of the time, the answer is, “We don’t know yet.” Not knowing what the background will be presents several challenges. What colors should the talent wear so they work with the color palette in the background? Which angle should they be shot from? Straight to camera or at an angle? What size should they be in the frame? How should they be lit?

That last point, in particular, has stung me in the past. If I’m lighting and shooting a green screen interview or host segment and I’m not told what the background will be and what the overall scene will look like, how can I know how to light the scene? The default is soft, frontal, flat light. If the background that the person will be composited into is lit in the same way, great—it should match. But what if the scene is high contrast with highly directional late afternoon light? In that case, the person that we shot with the flat, soft, even lighting will always look artificial and pasted into the scene because the lighting between the foreground and background doesn’t match in the least. The exception to this rule is when shooting talent that will be composited against graphics. Then, at least the graphics can be created to match the lighting of the person.   

Some reasons I’ve been told why producers want to shoot green screen:

  • Placing talent into an environment that doesn’t exist in reality (virtual sets, outer space story, etc.).
  • Placing talent into an environment that isn’t accessible because of travel costs.
  • When shooting talent in multiple locations that look and feel diverse, green screen can allow a unified and repeatable setting.
  • We want to place graphics, animation or stylized elements into a virtual background.
  • Bad weather in a location we want to shoot in, we can shoot clean plates later.
  • Political strife/war/factors where it would be too risky to bring crew and talent.
  • We want to place talent into archival footage shot in the past.
Actor Lauren Graham
I was going for photorealism with this shot of actor Lauren Graham on the set of her show “Gilmore Girls.” She was photographed in a loft in Hollywood, while the shot of the set was from 15 years ago at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank.

Photorealism

One of the best uses of green screen is for photorealistic composites. This is where great care is taken by the production to insert the green screen talent into a background in a way that’s seamless, realistic and carefully planned and executed. The results when this approach is taken can be breathtakingly realistic; you’d swear that the talent is in the location in real life. This can be accomplished with interviews, presentations, narrative, music videos—really in any format. In my experience, this is the most difficult green screen to pull off, but when you do, it’s the most gratifying too because the shot doesn’t scream “Green screen composite!” when viewed by the audience. It looks natural and doesn’t call attention to itself.

The reason why few productions try to tackle photorealistic compositing is that it takes a lot more planning, technique, skill and resources. You work backward in this process, shooting or gathering the background plates before shooting the talent. Then when you shoot the talent on set, you live composite the talent in front the of background so that the director, DP, gaffer, props, wardrobe and every other department can see the finished composite—at least a rough version of it. This way, all of the parameters—camera to subject distance, angles used, lens selection, focal length, exposure—can all be tweaked to perfection to make sure that the green screenshot matches the background perfectly.

This is even more important in shots where the background plate shot moves and the shot of the talent has to move accordingly. If you can sync the movement between the two elements perfectly as you shoot the talent shots, it really helps to sell the illusion. You are then getting into shot perspective matching, parallax correction and ensuring that the angles are in perfect sync. In my work, photorealism is always the goal when shooting green screen. It’s rarely realized because most of the projects I shoot on simply lack the budget and resources to do so. But on those rare occasions when I get to do this, it’s always a lot of fun and very gratifying when you nail it.

Comic Lisa Alvarado
This is comic Lisa Alvarado from a documentary that I shot. Does the shot feel different than other shots you’ve seen that are composites? Look at her hair, the wisps on the edge of her frame. Those can be difficult to get a perfect key on in composites, but not impossible. This shot is NOT a green screen composite—can you tell the difference?

The Alternatives

To me, as a DP, the alternative to green screen is always real locations or high-quality sets. Shooting the real-deal talent in real physical locations, well lit and nicely composed is always the ultimate. As DPs, directors and videographers, I’d always encourage you to push your clients and projects toward shooting talent in real locations whenever possible. Green screen can be an incredibly useful tool, but it can also be a compromise and a logistical and post-production challenge.

If you do have to shoot green screen, your best practice should also always be to push for pre-production time to shoot tests and, whenever possible, if the background plates are real locations, push to shoot those plates well before you shoot talent. Record your camera used, raster size, codec, frame rate, camera to subject distance, lens used, focal length, ƒ-stop and exactly where your lighting sources were positioned in frame. The more data you have from your background plate shoot, the more you can apply that data to replicate the exact same lighting and perspective on your talent so that whoever does the composites finds that they have two perfectly matching puzzle pieces.

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Sigma Announces 85mm F1.4 DG DN Prime Portrait Lens

Sigma’s new 85mm F1.4 DG DN prime lens

Earlier today, Sigma announced its latest prime lens for its Art series of lenses: The new Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN prime lens is a portrait prime lens designed for both L-Mount and E-Mount mirrorless-camera systems.

Sigma emphasized that the new prime will not only have very high optical quality, but it will be a lightweight lens as well, weighing in at around 22 oz. or about 1.4 lbs. Sigma also said its stepping motor has been optimized for use with both “phase detection AF and contrast AF,” providing a “smooth shooting experience only possible with a mirrorless camera, such as face/eye detection AF.”

Sigma’s new 85mm F1.4 DG DN prime lens

 

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN lens comes with on-board controls, including a focus-mode switch, AFL button and lock switch.

Other key specifications include :

  • An optical-lens design of 15 elements in 11 groups (with 5 SLDs and 1 aspherical lens);
  • On-board controls, such as a focus-mode switch, AFL button, a de-clickable aperture control (for the option of operating the aperture smoothly) and a lock switch;
  • 11 rounded diaphragm blades;
  • A minimum focusing distance of 33.5 inches;
  • And a dust- and splash-proof construction.

The new lens will ship later this month and be available for $1,199.

For more information, see the press release below:

Sigma’s new 85mm F1.4 DG DN prime lens on a Sony a-series full-frame mirrorless camera
Sigma’s new 85mm F1.4 DG DN prime lens

[[ press release ]]

SIGMA 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art – Redefining the Classic Lens

  1. The record-high performance worthy of the name of 85mm F1.4 | Art
  2. Lightweight & compact – A new perception of F1.4
  3. A full range of functionalities and excellent build quality

Mark a new chapter of the Art line F1.4 in the mirrorless age.

Large-diameter, unparalleled optical performance, compact and lightweight, and high-speed AF all in your hand.

The 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art combines a clear and delicate rendering performance, which is requisite for portrait photography, with beautiful, rich bokeh effects only possible with lenses such as a large-diameter F1.4, at a level that will satisfy both professional and advanced amateur photographers. The focal length of 85mm and significant bokeh effect at F1.4 brightness allow the users’ subjects to stand out in a complementary fashion, which is one of the essences of taking portrait photography, so users can enjoy it to the fullest.

In addition to the fast and consistent AF response, the mirrorless-exclusive design of the 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art has realized a lightweight and compact lens body that defies convention. And its small body is packed with a range of functionalities, including a dust- and splash-proof structure, supported by an excellent build quality.

The 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art is SIGMA’s new “ultimate portrait lens” for the mirrorless age. And with it, SIGMA proposes a whole new world of possibilities provided by this “85mm F1.4 lens for everyday use,” thanks to the unprecedented level of portability, free from size- or weight-related limitations.

Key features

  1. The record-high performance worthy of the name of 85mm F1.4 | Art

85mm F1.4 is a specification almost synonymous with a portrait lens. With the Art line lenses, SIGMA pursues the highest optical performance possible and has devoted the latest optical design technologies, as well as the production technologies of the Aizu factory, SIGMA’s only production site, to the development of these lenses. The result is a detailed image critical for portrait photography that is achieved at a level that will satisfy both professional and advanced amateur photographers.

In addition to five SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements and one aspherical lens, the 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art has incorporated the latest high refractive index glass, which works to thoroughly correct aberrations that cannot be handled by the correction functionality on the camera side. With a particular emphasis given to the correction of axial chromatic aberration, users will enjoy sharp images with no color bleeding, all the way up to the maximum aperture of F1.4.

The high resolving power that covers the entire image from the center to the edges ensures sharpness of the area in focus, and coupled with the significant bokeh effect produced by the F-value of 1.4 brings out the users’ subject in an evocative way.

The numerous rounds of ray-trace simulation, as well as repeated real-world testing, have given the 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art its ability to minimize ghosting, ensuring clear, sharp images even when shooting in backlit conditions.

With the ability to shoot from the maximum aperture of F1.4 without worrying about image quality, users can focus on the camera operations to realize their artistic expressions, such as the adjustment of exposure and depth of field. This new lens indeed delivers a level of optical performance truly worthy of the name of 85mm F1.4 Art.

  1. Lightweight & compact – A new perception of F1.4

The 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art weighs 630g/ 22.2oz., with a filter size of 77mm and a body length of 94.1mm/ 3.7in.*. Designed exclusively for mirrorless cameras, it has a “large lens diameter and superb optical performance” and “a lightweight and compact body,” a combination which has long been difficult to achieve.

The AF motor system employs a stepping motor which is optimized for both phase detection AF and contrast AF. Not only does this provide a smooth shooting experience only possible with a mirrorless camera, such as face/eye detection AF, but it has also made the lens body itself much smaller, as the focus lens has been made small to better suit a stepping motor.

Furthermore, by making the most of the in-camera aberration correction functionalities, SIGMA was able to concentrate on the correction of aberration that could be handled by the optical system alone, which further contributed to making the lens smaller in size.

With such a lightweight and small body, users can now take out a large-diameter 85mm F1.4 lens for an everyday use such as taking snapshots. The 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art invites users to enjoy photography in an unconventional way.

* For L-mount

  1. A full range of functionalities and an excellent build quality

This compact lens is packed with a range of functionalities that will satisfy both professional and advanced amateur photographers.

The 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art has newly introduced an “Iris ring lock switch.” This prevents from unintended movement of the iris ring during shooting, allowing users to devote their attention to the creation of their image. The “Focus Mode Switch” on the lens body and the “AFL button*” that allows various functions to be assigned from a camera body will also assist users’ shooting.

In addition to the dust- and splash-proof structure, the lens uses materials such as aluminum and TSC (Thermally Stable Composite) where they are best suited, achieving a level of build quality that is worthy of the Art line. In addition to the durability of the body, the lens pursues quality in terms of how users “feel” as well, such as the smooth motion in which each ring or switch works, and the precise hand feeling. The 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art helps ensure users a smooth shooting experience in every condition.

*Limited to compatible cameras.  Also, the functions depend on the camera.

Additional features

  • Lens construction: 15 elements in 11 groups, with 5 SLDs and 1 aspherical lens
  • Compatible with high-speed autofocus
  • Compatible with lens-based optical correction (*Only on camera models that support this functionality. Scope of correction varies depending on)
  • Iris ring
  • Iris ring click switch
  • Iris ring lock switch (*When turned ON at the position A, the iris ring is locked at A. When turned ON at a position other than A, it is locked within the range between the maximum to minimum apertures and will not engage at the position A.)
  • AFL button
  • Focus Mode Switch
  • Dust-and splash-proof
  • Hood with lock
  • Compatible with SIGMA USB DOCK UD-11 (sold separately / for L-Mount only)
  • Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
  • Every single lens undergoes SIGMA’s proprietary MTF measuring system “A1”
  • 11-blade rounded diaphragm
  • High-precision, durable brass bayonet mount
  • “Made in Japan” craftsmanship

To learn more about SIGMA’s craftsmanship, please visit SIGMA website at

https://www.sigma-global.com/en/lenses/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Documentary Will Focus On Former White House Photographer Pete Souza

Poster for the upcoming documentary film on Photographer Pete Souza, “The Way I See It.”

It’s hard to believe that we have less than 90 days to go before the start of the 2020 US Presidential Election between President Donald Trump and the Democratic hopeful, Former Vice President Joe Biden. At this point, Biden may be leading in the polls, but anything can still happen. But a new film trailer released this week for a documentary film (by Focus Features) that will appear in movie theatres this September may certainly help Biden in his quest. That’s because the new documentary, “The Way I See It,” not only chronicles the work of photojournalist and photographer, Pete Souza, during his eight years with two different Presidents—Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and Barack Obama (2009-2017)—as White House photographer, but also because it highlights Souza’s current role as a vehement critic of President Trump. (Souza was the official chief White House photographer under President Obama but had a more junior staff role during his eight years with President Reagan.)

 

Right from the get go, the trailer is provocative: “I know what happens in the oval office, and that’s what scares me,” are the first words you hear Souza say in this trailer for “The Way I See It,” which has been directed and produced by Dawn Porter. But just what exactly has scared Souza for the past three or so years? For starters, President Trump’s behavior as the 45th US President, and just how much he has differed in that role, in Souza’s opinion, with both President Obama and President Reagan.

For example, just a little over midway through the trailer (around the 1:30 mark) you hear Souza’s voice describing the election of President Obama and what that meant for the African American community, as powerful images shot by Souza are shown on screen. He says, “I thought, who is this man? How does he deal with crisis? Leadership, character, and empathy.” Then, the trailer cuts to Souza speaking on screen at a podium, and you hear him say, “Don’t you wish you had that now?,” referring to President Trump.

Screen shot from the trailer for the upcoming documentary film on Photographer Pete Souza, “The Way I See It.”

It’s intriguing to see Souza’s current role as political critic, seen by many on his Instagram feed, and how in some ways it harkens back to his photojournalism roots.

But that’s quite a different role than being a White House photographer, which is to cover the day-to-day activities and goings-on of the Commander in Chief and is more a combination of being documentary photographer as well as a commercial or public-relations type of photographer, instead of being a photojournalist. After all, if you’re a photographer employed by the sitting US President, you’re not going to be shooting images that take pot shots at his or her agenda.  

However, that’s not to say that White House photographers haven’t captured important moments in history. They certainly have: For example, a webpage from the White House website, during President Clinton’s second term, lists the following as examples of photos captured by White House photographers: President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964; President Richard Nixon’s final wave to his staff as he boarded Marine One after resigning as President; President Jimmy Carter signing the Camp David Peace Accords; President Ronald Reagan shaking hands with Mikhail Gorbachev; President George Bush meeting with American troops during Desert Storm; and President Clinton encouraging the famous handshake between the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

One of the more photojournalistic-like images captured by a White House photographer was this one, now on Getty Images, by Barbara Kinney, which depicts five towering figures in the world of 1990s Middle East politics: (from left to right) Yitzhak Rabin, Hosni Mubarak, King Hussein, President Clinton and Yasser Arafat—who had stopped to adjust their ties prior to the signing of a peace accord at the White House in .

The President Clinton webpage goes on to describe the role of a White House photographer in the following way: “Whether photographing the President as he works in the Oval Office, enjoys quiet moments with his family, delivers a speech, or makes a crucial decision affecting our nation’s future, White House photographers have a front row seat to history in the making.”

However, those images, even the charming one by Barbara Kinney, are quite different than say how Photojournalist Doug Mills of the New York Times covers a US President, which you can see here, in this story, “Our White House Photographer on Covering President Trump.” Mills might cover the same events, such as President Trump’s State of the Union address in 2019. But a White House photographer would never shoot a photo like the one Mills caught of Nancy Pelosi making a “gesture” of a clap towards President Trump, which some of the right have taken to be disrespectful, which is why a White House photographer would probably not shoot that type of image.

You can find more on the role of a White House photographer on this Wikipedia page, which includes a list of the official photographers going back to President John F. Kennedy as well as some iconic images captured by those photographers. The Washingtonian also includes an intriguing article as well, and The New Yorker includes a short slide show of photos by White House photographers. Artsy has a story by Haley Weiss, which includes Souza’s spectacular photo of President Barack Obama bending over to let an African American boy, who was the son of a White House staff member, pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office in 2009.

For more on Pete Souza, check out our Digital Photo Pro interview on him and read about how he captured his famous photo of President Obama and Vice President Biden, along with members of the national security team, as they received an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. You can also read about Souza and other political activists in our story on photographer KK Ottesen, who photographed Souza and others, in a story we posted earlier this year on KK Ottesen’s book, “Activist: Portraits of Courage”. Plus, check out my story from 2019 on Chris Buck and how he captures US Presidential portraits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Olympus Introduces OM-D E-M10 Mark IV & 100-400mm Zoom Lens

The new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera body and the new M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS lens

The aphorism “The more things change, the more they remain the same” may sound like a cliché, but for those in the camera industry, it has a strange resonance today. That’s because although several weeks ago, Olympus announced it would be selling off its imaging division to another company—and in doing so dramatically changing much of its core business focus—today Olympus announced two new products—the new OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera body and the new M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS lens—almost as if nothing has changed.

The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera body (in black, front view).
The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera body (in gray, LCD flipped down).
The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera body (in gray, back view).
The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera body (in gray, top view).

So, for now, Olympus continues to enhance its mirrorless camera and lens line up. Here are some details on each of the new Olympus products:

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Olympus says this new entry-level model has been redesigned with some ergonomic changes as well as the addition of newer technology to make it very lightweight (about 13.5 ounces or 0.85 pounds) and compact, yet still maintaining high image quality. The company also highlighted that this camera would be very good for taking self-portraits and videos of yourself. But it includes a lot of powerful technology, including 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS).

Other key Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV specifications also include:

  • A new higher-megapixel sensor, a 20-Megapixel Live MOS sensor;
  • An in-body 5-axis image stabilization system, which features up to 4.5 shutter speed steps of compensation;
  • An improved grip with a secure hold for superb ergonomics and comfortable control;
  • Advanced auto-focus capabilities, including continuous AF, face-priority AF and eye-priority AF;
  • A video mode that can capture 4K video, up to 30 fps;
  • A wide array of scene modes, art filters (which are now customizable) and an advanced auto mode (which includes Live Composite, Live Time, Multiple Exposure, HDR and a new Panorama sweep mode);
  • A high quality electronic viewfinder (with 2.36-million dots);
  • And a 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen LCD (approx.1.4-million dots), which flips down.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV will be available in two configurations—for $699  (body only, in either silver or black) or for $799 (in either silver or black, as a kit, with the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5- 5.6 EZ lens). Additionally, for a limited time (through November 1, 2020), you can also purchase the new OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and receive a free starter kit, consisting of an Olympus camera bag, extra BLS-50 battery and 32GB SD card.

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS lens
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS lens

 

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS lens

This lens will be ideal for those photographers and videographers looking for a somewhat affordable zoom lens with the ability to get you close to the action. Plus, because it’s in the Micro Four-Thirds system, the lens is smaller, lighter and more portable than comparable full-frame mirrorless camera system lenses.

 

Key specifications on the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS lens include:

  • 21 elements in 15 groups (4 ED lenses, 2 Super HR lenses and 2 HR lenses);
  • A minimum working distance of just a little over 4 feet;
  • Weather-sealing and dustproofing;  
  • And the ability to use focus stacking;

The lens also includes a focus-limiter switch and a manual focus switch. Like the new camera body, the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS lens will be available in September, with a list price of $1,499

For more information on each product, see the press releases below.

[[ press release ]]

THE OLYMPUS OM-D® E-M10 MARK IV

Capture Important Moments with Advanced Features in this Compact, Interchangeable Lens Camera Body 

Center Valley, PA, August 4, 2020 – Olympus introduces the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, a compact, lightweight interchangeable, Micro Four Thirds® camera body designed for the beginner, yet packed with versatile features common in mid-level camera products—offering ease-of-use and incredible portability in a classic body design that is lighter than ever before. For a limited time (through November 1, 2020), purchase a new OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and receive a free starter kit, consisting of an Olympus camera bag, extra BLS-50 battery and 32GB SD card (starter kit valued at $99.99).

The award-winning Olympus OM-D series has a reputation for delivering flawless, professional- quality images and video to photographers of all levels, and the E-M10 Mark IV does not disappoint. This entry-point mirrorless camera is designed to allow the user to grow with it; its powerful image sensor and image-processing engine are packed with technology to deliver a wealth of versatile shooting features; perfect for the enthusiastic beginner photographer, who values quality, yet demands results. This model also features a high-definition electronic viewfinder for optimal quality while shooting in bright outdoor or backlit conditions, and an improved grip with a secure hold for superb ergonomics and comfortable control. The compact, lightweight design is equipped with in-body 5-axis image stabilizationi featuring up to 4.5 shutter speed steps of compensationii, and a new 20 Megapixel Live MOS sensor. Combined, the two deliver high-quality photos and videos with minimal blur in any scene, including night photography and telephoto shooting.

Bring It Everywhere

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is lighter than any previous model, at approximately 0.85 pounds. Even when paired with the M.Zuiko® Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ lens, the kit is just over a pound (approximately 1.05 pounds), about the size of a standard bottle of wateriii, making it incredibly portable. A deep grip provides an ergonomic, comfortable and secure feel. Easy USB charging enables in-camera charging, using a power bank – convenient when on the go. This body is also wireless radio wave external flash compatible.

Perfect Photos – Every Time

Capture blur-free photos even in dark locations, thanks to improved in-body 5-axis image stabilization, providing 4.5 shutter speed steps of compensation. Expect consistent in-focus subjects with improved autofocus tracking precision. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV uses the same moving subject detection algorithm available in the high-end OM-D E-M1X. Using Face/Eye Detection autofocus, a feature recently introduced on the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, the OM-

D E-M10 Mark IV captures beautiful portraits with more accurate face detection and tracking, even when viewing the face from the side or when partially hidden. The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV has the same 20M image sensor and high-performance TruePic VIII image processing engine available on Olympus high-end models, and now available on the E-M10 Mark IV. Never miss a fast action shot with its maximum 15 frames-per-second high-speed sequential shooting.

A first for the OM-D series, this model is equipped with a flip-down LCD monitor and dedicated selfie mode, making it easy and fun to take high-quality selfies using one hand. The camera supports high-angle and low-angle shooting, so photos and videos turn out exactly as imagined. Additionally, the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV features a high-definition electronic viewfinder, making it easier than ever to shoot in direct sunlight and in other situations where it might be difficult to view the LCD monitor.

Unleash Creative Potential.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV allows users to choose from 28 Scene Modes, ranging anywhere from Portrait to Fireworks, and Sport to Macro, with many other options in between, allowing optimization of settings for the best results in virtually any scenario. 16 Art Filters, such as Vintage, Soft Focus and Instant Film offer the user the creative expression of their choice. Enjoy advanced techniques easily with Advanced Photo (AP) mode — an easy-to-navigate menu walks the user through features, such as High Dynamic Range (HDR), Live Composite, Live Time, Multiple Exposure and Focus Bracketing. Record beautiful 4K hand-held video even while walking, thanks to the powerful 5-axis image stabilization. Extract and save still images from the 4K videos. 4K video can be recorded without switching to video mode. Silent mode mutes shutter sounds during shooting, which is convenient for locations where sounds are not appropriate such as during recitals, concerts or weddings.

Expandable System Grows with the User

Olympus offers wide selection of Olympus M.Zuiko interchangeable lenses, from compact zoom lenses to single–focal-length lenses in a wide variety of focal lengths to meet the needs of any photographer. Choose the lens that best suits the subject. Traveling to a national park? Capture amazing wide landscapes with the M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8 lens. Or get perfect shots of a new puppy with beautiful bokeh using an M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f1.8 lens. As the user’s photography skills and interests develop, this system is the perfect tool to grow with them. Wanting to explore macro photography, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f3.5 macro lens will be perfect.

Share and Post with Ease

Built-in Wi-Fi® easily and intuitively pairs with a smart device for remote shooting, wireless uploading and fast sharing. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV supports an always-on connection using Bluetooth®, allowing the user the ability to play back or import images, even when the camera is not in hand. This built-in, stable connection antenna is the same one used in the OM-D high-end models. With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® built into the camera body, the dedicated smartphone app Olympus OI.Share®  can be used to easily and instantly import recorded photos and videos to a smartphone or for posting on social media. The Camera “How To” guide is also available in the app for learning shooting methods and techniques on the go.

Pricing, Configurations Availability & Specifications

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Body (Silver/Black); $699.99 (U.S.)

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV EZ Kit Body (Silver/Black) and M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5- 5.6 EZiv lens; $799.99 (U.S.)

For detailed product specifications visit https://www.getolympus.com/digitalcameras/omd/e-m10-mark-iv.html

[[ press release ]]

INTRODUCING THE OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS LENS

A Superior Compact, Lightweight Super telephoto Zoom Lens Offering 200-800mm Focal Length (35mm Equivalent)

Center Valley, PA, August 4, 2020 – Olympus® is pleased to announce the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f5.0-6.3 IS lens, an ultra-compact, lightweight super-telephoto zoom lens that covers a broad telephoto focal length of 200-800mm equivalent1 and is compliant with the Micro Four Thirds® System standard. This lens features the same dustproof and splashproof performance as the M.Zuiko PRO lens series, and when paired with the M.Zuiko Digital 2x Teleconverter MC-20, delivers up to 1600mm equivalent1 super telephoto shooting. This lens offers superior autofocus performance, even handheld, and in-lens image stabilization for the optimal shooting experience.

Compact, Lightweight Design

Despite being a 200-800mm equivalent super telephoto zoom lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f5.0-6.3 IS lens is compact and lightweight, with a length of 205.7 mm, a weight of 1,120 g6 and a filter diameter of 72 mm. The M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f5.0-6.3 IS lens is capable of 200-800mm equivalent1 telephoto shooting on its own, which can be further extended when paired with the optional (sold separately) M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14 or the M.Zuiko Digital 2x Teleconverter MC-20, for up to 1600mm equivalent1, making it possible to zoom in close on subjects that are difficult to approach, such as birds and wildlife, and delivering flattening effects for shooting that is unique to a super telephoto lens. The closest focusing distance across the entire zoom range is 1.3m and the maximum image magnification is 0.57×1, allowing superb telemacro performance when photographing small subjects such as insects and flowers. Focus Stacking2 is also supported. This feature captures multiple shots at different focal positions and automatically composites a single photo with a large depth of field that is in focus from the foreground to background.

  Focal length

35mm equivalent

Aperture Value Max Image Magnification

35mm equivalent

M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400 ㎜ F5.0-6.3 IS 200mm-800mm

(100mm-400mm)

F5.0-F6.3 X0.57

(X0.29)

With 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14 280mm-1,120mm

(140mm-560mm)

F7.1-F9.0 X0.81

(x0.4)

With 2.0x Teleconverter MC-20 400mm-1600mm

(200mm-800mm)

F10-F13 X1.15

(x0.57)

 

Superb Performance

The optical system of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f5.0-6.3 IS lens features a combination of four ED lenses3 for suppressing color bleeding, two Super HR lenses4, and two HR lenses5 for bright, clear depictive performance to the edges of the image across the entire zoom range. ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) Coating is used to reduce ghosting and flaring, for clear image quality, even in poor, backlit conditions. Extensive hermetic sealing on the entire lens barrel delivers the same high level of dustproof and splashproof performance as the M.Zuiko PRO series for peace of mind when shooting in any environment.

Superior Autofocus

A rear focus system is employed to drive this lightweight focusing lens, for fast, high-precision autofocus performance. This lens is also equipped with four functional switches, designed to support handheld shooting, including a Focus Limiter switch for AF operation selection, ranging between three levels, according to the focusing distance, allowing for quick focusing and comfortable shooting, even in the super telephoto range. In-lens image stabilization on/off delivers stable handheld super telephoto shooting, an AF/MF switch and a zoom locking switch.

Please visit the website for detailed product specifications: https://www.getolympus.com/lenses/m-zuiko-digital-ed-100- 400mm-f5-0-6-3-is.html .

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The Sony a7S III Vs. The Canon EOS R5: Two Mirrorless Approaches

Canon has introduced the EOS R5, a full-frame mirrorless camera with almost unbelievable specs that have turned out to be true—with some caveats.

Canon Heats Things Up With The R5 Rumors

Things have really heated up in the mirrorless camera category. July 2020 saw the introduction of two eagerly awaited entries into the mirrorless camera wars, one from Canon and one from Sony. Rumors about Canon introducing a potential RAW capable 8K mirrorless camera, as fantastical as that seemed, surfaced last year. Would it be possible to build a small, mirrorless camera with IBIS, RAW recording and 8K without it becoming a heat-generating monster that shuts down constantly? More on this later.

Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
The Sony A7 is the camera that started the video-capable mirrorless camera phenomena in 2013. The latest A7 variants don’t look terribly different.

Five Years of Sony Rumors

On the Sony front, there have been rumors of a new a7S III full-frame mirrorless camera for literally years. Sony presents a very different marketing scenario than Canon in that the Sony a7 lineup began the mirrorless camera revolution when the first two Sony a7s (the a7 and a7R) were introduced way back on October 16, 2013. Less than a year later, Sony followed with the a7S for a total of three variants on the market by April of 2014. The cameras were simple to use and presented an image that was easy to cut with footage with Sony’s popular F55, F5 and A7 cameras, so they gained great popularity as a B-camera for these A-cameras.

Most of the a7 camera variants have been advertised and used as a true mirrorless hybrid, often pulling double duty as a stills camera and a video camera. Sony introduced a more video-centric model, the a7 SII, in October of 2015. Its 12.2mp sensor, while low for a stills camera, features a much larger pixel pitch and, therefore, is considered to have larger pixels that are able to gather light more efficiently for low light video shooting especially. The a7S II, being five years old, has seemed a bit long in the tooth though. The recording specs of 8-bit, 4:2:0 at a measly 100 mbps, in 2020, seem to be a throwback to 2015 when almost all cameras were 8-bit and higher data rates were relegated to only high-end cameras for the most part.

Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
Canon introduced the EOS R, its first full-frame mirrorless camera in 2018.

The Canon EOS R And RS

Canon introduced the EOS R in October 2018. It was the first higher-end Canon mirrorless camera aimed at video shooters, serving as a B-camera for Canon shooters who were already utilizing cameras like Canon’s EOS C200 and C300 MKII. The EOS R had some impressive specs and utilized Canon’s new RF lens mount and a 30.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 8 Image Processor. Canon put a lot of new and interesting technology into the EOS R, but when I evaluated it as a B-camera for my own C200 and C300 MKII, I found that its 1.7x crop when shooting in 4K paired with some truly unflattering rolling shutter artifacts doomed it for me. Great stills camera, but as a video camera, those two factors alone threw the camera into non-contention for many video pros. Canon followed up a few months later with the EOS RP, which seemed to basically be a bargain version of the EOS R, with fewer features and usability for about half of the EOS R’s introductory price of $2,299. I’m not privy to Canon’s actual sales figures, but anecdotally, none of the Canon shooters I know who own the C200 and or C300 MKII bought the EOS R or RP as B or gimbal cameras. The cameras probably did much better sales to still shooters.

Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
Canon has continued to develop its high-end pro-level DSLRs with the EOS 1DX MKIII, but the mirrorless EOS R5 may have ensured that this is the last high-end DSLR Canon creates.

Canon Puts Their Plan Into Action

The reception for the EOS R and RP, to me, seemed tepid. Most Canon owners surmised that Canon must have had something up their sleeve to introduce a more professional, higher-end model to the EOS R family. Canon’s bread and butter DSLRs like the EOS 5D MKIV and the EOS 1DX MKIII are great cameras, but they’re larger, heavier DSLRs, not smaller, lighter mirrorless cameras. The market has clearly been leaning toward smaller, mirrorless cameras, so Canon had to go all-in on a new EOS R variant. Most importantly, Canon has its new RF line of glass that has been on the market since the introduction of the EOS R back in 2018. But with only two non-pro bodies available, it’s hard to imagine that the sales of the more expensive new RF mount lenses haven’t surpassed Canon’s expectations. Canon has sold literally billions of EF and EF S lenses worldwide, and lens sales continue to be a huge revenue source for Canon, so they have a strategic interest in boosting the sales of the RF mount lenses.

Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
The Canon EOS R5 was introduced with a spec sheet that almost defies belief, the ability to record 8K RAW internally. But at what cost as far as usability?

Retailing for $3,899, the Canon EOS R5 was introduced on July 9, 2020. The headline features are numerous and impressive:

  • 8K Canon RAW Video up to 30p.
  • 8K DCI and 8K video up to 30p @ 4:2:2 10 bit Canon Log H.265 or 4:2:2 10 bit HDR PQ H.265.
  • 45MP Canon CMOS sensor.
  • High-speed sensor readout.
  • New DIGIC X image processor.
  • Full width of the sensor is used when recording 8K.
  • 4K DCI/UHD at up to 120p 4:2:2 10 bit Canon Log.
  • All recording modes and frame rates can be recorded internally.
  • First Canon camera with IBIS.
  • Dual card slots: Express and UHS-II SD.
  • DPAF II available in all modes and all frame rates including high speed.
  • Animal, eye and face detection.
  • Vari-angle LCD touchscreen.
Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
Early reports and testing reveal that there’s a price to be paid in order to gain the specs that make the EOS R5 such an eye-grabbing proposition.

Canon EOS R5 Analysis And Observation

Canon has yet to ship the EOS R5, and I’ve been in line to receive a review copy, so I have no hands-on experience with the EOS R5 yet, although I intend to get some hands-on time with one as soon as possible. Aside from hands-on though, many YouTubers and reviewers have been able to play with EOS R5 prototypes. We have some good field observations about the camera (and its lower cost, lower specification brother, the EOS R6) and many have already tested heat generation and the camera’s ability to operate without overheating and shutting down. As a technology showcase, looking at the specs, Canon shot for the moon. They seemed to want to exceed everyone’s idea about what’s possible in a relatively tiny mirrorless camera body. Three years ago, if you had told me that you could pack 8K RAW with a 45 MP sensor into a body that weighs 1.62 pounds, I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but Canon has done it.

Specs At What Cost?

I don’t have room to list every spec from the EOS R5, all of the posts and discussions that have taken place on every video and digital cinema forum and discussion group. A short synopsis of the situation might read something like, “Canon users request every potential resolution and codec option possible. Canon, listens, goes into the woodshed, develops, tests, tests and then releases EOS R5 and exceeds almost every requested specification nicely. Final camera specs and prototypes are released. Early users of prototypes report that the camera isn’t able to shoot at its highest resolutions and frame rates without overheating and shutting down. Other users report that under certain temperature and operational scenarios, camera can’t even record at its smaller and less demanding resolutions for as long as specified, quality and frame rates without shutting down after just a few minutes. Chaos ensues; discussion boards go nuts with arguments and defense as well as attacks of camera. Canon releases their own rebuttal about the overheating.”

I have read plenty of sentiments about “The Canon R5 is a hybrid stills camera that is capable of shooting 8K RAW FF video with IBIS. You shouldn’t consider it a professional video camera, it’s not, it’s a stills camera that shoots video.” I’ve also read posts that take the opposite tact, “Canon has promoted the heck out of the EOS R5 as a pro-level video tool. How many hobbyists and still photographers want to shoot 8K RAW?. This is a pro video tool and Canon has failed because the camera experiences thermal shutdown too often and sooner than the specs suggest.”

Canon issued the following chart listing approximate shooting times at various raster sizes, frame rates, and quality levels.

Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
Canon has put this list into the press, listing some approximate times the EOS R5 can shoot video before experiencing thermal shutdown. There’s no free ride when generating such tremendous amounts of heat in such a small, confined camera body with no fan for cooling.
Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
The Sony A7 SIII has been expected for years and now that it’s finally here, the specs look solid, but the ability to shoot without thermal overload must surely be one of its headline features.

Sony Counters With Iterative Improvement

Sony recently introduced the brand-new a7S III. To say this camera has been widely anticipated would be a gross understatement. Frankly, Sony has let their a7 variant mirrorless camera lineup stagnate, most of the recording specs in any of the models other than this latest model are circa 2015 specs and it’s five years later. Panasonic, Canon, Fujifilm and Blackmagic Design, although their cameras are cine cameras and not mirrorless hybrids, have not stood by idly. Panasonic offers the full-frame S1 and S1H mirrorless hybrids, which have an amazing array of cinema camera technology in a mirrorless form factor. Canon now has a lineup of four EOS R variants including the new R5 and R6. Fujifilm has stuck with APS-C sensors with their excellent X-T3 and X-T4 and are cultivating a line of medium-format GFX cameras that are also video-capable. Blackmagic Design has had amazing success with its Pocket Cinema 4K and 6K cameras—both very capable, inexpensive and flexible.

Sony has a lot of ground to make up in bringing back video-centric mirrorless camera users into the fold, and the a7S III presents a compelling package, albeit they took a very different path than Canon did with the R5 and R6. Here are the headline features for the a7S III:

  • 4K at 120fps 4:2:2 10-bit (1.1x crop) time recording limit of 30 minutes.
  • 4K RAW up to 120p over HDMI.
  • HD 240 fps (no crop).
  • Internal 4K up to 60p 4:2:2 10-bit internal.
  • No time restrictions on 4K 4:2:2 10-bit up to 30p.
  • 1 hour time restriction on 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-bit internal.
  • Improved autofocus performance.
  • Articulating rear LCD screen.
  • Redesigned menu system.
  • New Electronic IS.
  • Down sampled 1080P.
  • Full-sized HDMI.
  • Decent codec.
  • S-Log 3 and Cinetone.
  • Decent amount of DR.
Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
The A7 SIII features a full-size HDMI Type A connector. Believe it or not, this is a huge deal as the type A connector is leagues more reliable and robust than the Micro HDMI connector many mirrorless cameras get by with.

As you can see, Sony has improved just about every core feature of the a7S III. But the keyword here is “improved.” There are no headline-grabbing features like the 8K Internal RAW recording of the Canon EOS R5. There’s a full-sized HDMI connection, which is great. One of the headline features though is no overheating. No recording time restrictions on 4K 4:2:2 10 bit at up to 30p; this is the bread and butter raster and frame size that most of us shoot in in 2020. The camera features a conservative 12 MP sensor, while the Canon R5 has a 45 MP sensor. This means that the a7S III should be more sensitive when working in lower light. The Canon may be able to create much higher raster and resolution sized still images. Sony has made a point of telling us that you can buy the a7S III and count on it working; it has a new passive cooling system designed to keep things from overheating. However, even with this new passive cooling architecture (there’s no fan), I’ll still be very interested to see how this performs with the camera shooting 4K 60p in a hot outdoor shoot with the sun beating down on the camera body.

Sony A7 SIII Vs. The Canon EOS R5
Sony has packed the a7S III with lots of improvements on existing features and technology. Is this a better approach than Canon’s spec driven EOS R5?  Time and the market will tell—it will be interesting to see which camera sells more copies.

What Does This Mean?

While I haven’t had hands-on time with either camera yet, I still thought that a little analysis of what Canon and Sony have put out would be worthwhile to talk about. We have the two largest camera manufacturers in the world who have put out new, state-of-the-art mirrorless hybrids that have diametrically opposite design and feature goals. Both models seem to be amazing technically, and the images I’ve seen from each, both stills and video, seem to look impressive. Is one approach better than the other—state of the art, pushing the limit headline features versus conservative, iterative feature growth? The answer to that probably lies with the type of shooter you are, what you shoot, where you shoot it and who your clients are.

For me, I’d have a hard time working within the temperature limitations of the R5. I often shoot outdoors, in direct sunlight, often shoot long takes, several in a row when shooting documentaries. For this work, I couldn’t risk the temperature limitations of the EOS R5, and I’d probably take a harder look at the a7S III. For other types of work and workflows, the a7S III might not have the higher raster size of the R5, but it’s seemingly more robust (I reserve judgment until I can put both cameras through their paces) running times without dealing with thermal overload would be appealing. Both cameras seem to have excellent AF tech and both have IBIS. The Canon’s RAW recording could be appealing when shooting in lighting and with subject matter that would benefit from a RAW workflow. With the a7S III, RAW can only be recorded externally and the recorder that can deal with the 16-bit RAW doesn’t yet exist, but the Atomos Ninja V will record 12-bit ProRes RAW or ProRes via the a7S III’s HDMI connection.

Ultimately, it seems we’ve reached a point where mirrorless cameras seem to have become the technical hotbed of feature innovation, and it’s exciting to have two such impressive choices to choose from. Both are impressive tools for all kinds of production.    

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First-Look Review: The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III In Costa Rica

This past February, I traveled to the beautiful tropical Central American country of Costa Rica with Olympus to try out its latest mirrorless camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. (This was more than a month before the U.S. Department of State issued a Global Level 4 “Do Not Travel” Health Advisory, on March 31, 2020, which advised, “U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.”)

Although I was excited to travel to this Central American country, I didn’t know much about it. After doing some research, I found out some interesting facts: It has more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity, even though, geographically speaking, it’s a rather small country.

Costa Rica also has 801 miles of gorgeous coastline, and there are 121 volcanic formations. And although I didn’t see any active volcanos, I was enchanted by the images of the mountainous terrain as well as beaches with black sand, which are a result of lava deposits. 

Although it was still early February when I arrived at our hotel, right on Jacó Beach, which faces the Pacific Ocean, I found it was still quite hot and very humid. I realized it meant that almost any shoot might quickly tire me out—since I hadn’t done a lot of hiking in tropical conditions.

Black Iguana
There’s always a tradeoff when using a teleconverter like the Olympus 2X MC-20, which I used for this shot. I needed it to get visually closer to animals like this black iguana that I photographed in Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, but using it meant I’d lose two stops of exposure. So, my widest aperture on the lens was ƒ/5.6, not ƒ/2.8, which is why I increased my ISO to ISO 6400. But even at this somewhat high ISO, the E-M1 Mark III still kept image noise at bay, and I felt I still captured a shot of this iguana with a lot of character and expression. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO with M.Zuiko Digital 2X Teleconverter MC-20. Exposure: 1/500 sec., ƒ/8, ISO 6400.

For me, that was a valuable benefit of having a lightweight camera system. Another was that it’s ruggedly constructed, which Olympus has included in many cameras in the past, including the E-M1 Mark II. But a rugged exterior isn’t the only quality or feature the E-M1 Mark III shares with its predecessor. In fact, the E-M1 Mark III only included rather modest changes to this camera, keeping many of the main features and specs the same: In addition to the sensor, you’ll find the same powerful in-body image stabilization system (or IBIS) as well as the ability to fire off 18 frames per second using the electronic shutter, which is also silent, while still providing you with autofocus and autoexposure. The display and electronic viewfinder—a 3-inch swiveling touchscreen LCD and an EVF with 2.36 million dots—are pretty much the same.

Most of the changes Olympus implemented are what you might call “computational photography” related, powered via the TruePic IX processor. For example, although the IBIS system is the same, Olympus claims the new E-M1 Mark III allows you a greater number of stops (7.5) of IS with select Olympus stabilized lenses. It also has an impressive Live ND filter feature, which produces a slow-shutter effect instead of needing to buy extra physical ND filter accessories.

Although we weren’t moving very fast on our river cruise along the Tárcoles River, I set the shutter speed at 1/250 sec. to make sure I shot a sharp image, particularly using a long lens like a 300mm (which has a 35mm-equivalent focal length of a 600mm lens). But I needed to increase the ISO since the late-afternoon light was beginning to dim. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO. Exposure: 1/250 sec., ƒ/4.5, ISO 2000.

The E-M1 Mark III now includes a more robust high-res (composite) shot mode, too, that produces higher-res images than before—a 50-megapixel photo in hand-held mode and 80-megapixel shots on a tripod. (The E-M1 Mark II’s high-res shot mode provided 25 megapixels for handheld and 50 megapixels for tripod modes.)

Performance And Image Quality While Shooting Wildlife

My Costa Rican trip with Olympus lasted just a few days—we essentially had two shooting days—but they were quite educational, with stops at Manuel Antonio National Park, a cruise along the Tárcoles River and shooting surfers riding the waves in the Pacific Ocean as well as a beautiful sunset at a beach named Playa Hermosa.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with the new Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-45mm f/4.0 PRO lens (top view)
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III (back view)

One focus of the trip was photographing wild animals, and it reminded me of a useful quote from the wonderful 1999 edition of The National Geographic Photography Field Guide, a book written by Peter K. Burian and Robert Caputo. In the book’s intro to the chapter on photographing animals, the authors write, “Photographing animals, be it your pet dog or lion in the wild, calls for time, patience, and sensitivity. You should treat making images of animals the same way you would those of people: Think about their character and then try to get it on film.” To do this, the authors suggest, “you have to wait for, and learn to anticipate, their behavior.”

But technically speaking, the success of capturing successful photos of wildlife subjects depends at least somewhat upon the quality and performance of your camera system.

During my trip to Costa Rica, the E-M1 Mark III was by and large fast and accurate. It’s this speed and accuracy that provided me with lots of opportunities to capture the character of the animals I saw via their fleeting expressions—from the Buster Keaton-like deadpan gaze of a black iguana to the theatrically comic expressions of a trio of white-faced, or capuchin, monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park to the menacing, dragon-like eye of an American crocodile in the late-afternoon light along the Tárcoles River.

Baby American crocodile
The E-M1 Mark III did an exquisite job rendering the scaly texture of this baby American crocodile, which we saw on the banks of the Tárcoles River in Costa Rica. But it also did a fine job catching the crocodile’s menacing glassy eye. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO with M.Zuiko Digital 2x Teleconverter MC-20. Exposure: 1/250 sec., ƒ/5.6, ISO 800.

Travel and nature photographer and Olympus educator Rob Knight, who joined us on this trip, offered some helpful tips as well, which helped me capture my shots. For instance, Knight says he often likes to observe the subjects in order to actually determine the “decisive moment” to capture them with his camera.

So, after we arrived at each destination, although I was eager to start shooting immediately and begin firing off 18 frames per second in the hopes of capturing a great shot, I first studied my wildlife subjects before I started photographing.

Technically speaking, I generally shot in continuous AF mode, using the electronic shutter for 18 fps with AF. I did sometimes switch to single AF, though, which worked well enough. I experimented with some of the other modes, but these two AF modes were the most useful for me on this trip.

Lastly, I found the image stabilization was quite useful, allowing me to shoot in a lower lighting situation with lower shutter speeds but still capture sharp shots.

Composing wildlife subjects in motion, like this pair of white-faced, or capuchin, monkeys, can be quite challenging, particularly if they’re moving erratically. But with the E-M1 Mark III’s fast burst mode and its ability for you to quickly set or reset the camera’s focus point using the camera’s new joystick, you can be reasonably sure you’ll not only capture the subjects you want but also photograph them in a compositionally pleasing way. However, you’ll want to take some time to try these features out and practice them before your assignment. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO with M.Zuiko Digital 2x Teleconverter MC-20. Exposure: 1/500 sec., ƒ/5.6, ISO 3200.

Highs & Lows

I found a lot to like on the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, but I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect camera. For instance, it would have been nice to have a more updated image sensor with more resolution, but for many event, action and nature shooters, the sensor should suffice. Here are some of the more notable highs and lows on the camera.

Highs:

  • A smaller, more compact system than many full-frame mirrorless systems
  • Powerful In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
  • Includes a rugged exterior
  • Two memory card slots
  • Nicely designed with lots of physical knobs and buttons, including a new joystick
  • Unique features, like Starry Sky AF mode and Handheld High-Res mode
  • Fast 18 frames-per-second burst modes with autofocus and autoexposure
Yellow headed caracara
Our local guide for our cruise along the Tárcoles River spotted this very animated yellow-headed caracara, which is a bird of prey in the Falconidae family. Again, I shot this image in the late-afternoon light, when some of the sunlight was starting to fade. So, I increased the ISO to ISO 6400. I really liked how the Olympus system captured the wispy texture of the bird’s feathers and the hard edge of its beak. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO with M.Zuiko Digital 2x Teleconverter MC-20. Exposure: 1/250 sec., ƒ/5.6, ISO 6400.

Lows:

  • Older 20-megapixel Live MOS Micro Four Thirds image sensor may be lower resolution than what some pros are looking for
  • Video capabilities could be more robust
  • Occasionally, I found the autofocus didn’t track subjects as accurately as I expected
  • The camera body is a bit pricey

Overall, A Very Good Value

Overall, I found I captured some rather successful wildlife shots due to the versatile nature of the E-M1 Mark III. But there are some drawbacks to this camera, such as the previously mentioned image sensor technology. This limitation extends to some of the video features, which are less powerful and versatile than cameras from other brands. Additionally, while I felt the AF technology was effective in most cases, at other times, it didn’t always provide the tracking I was hoping for.

Playa Hermosa sunset
To shoot this spectacular sunset from Playa Hermosa, which is located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, I switched to a 12-100mm lens and shot at the widest end of the zoom range, giving me a 35mm-equivalent focal length of a 24mm lens. I liked how this image picked up the flock of birds in the distance near the center of the photograph. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f11 IS PRO Lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec., ƒ/8, ISO 800.

However, overall, I found the in-body image stabilization (IBIS) worked extremely well and was very helpful in low light settings. I also found the flip-out swiveling LCD to be a valuable asset. Most of all, the 18 frames per second burst modes provided me with hundreds of JPEGs and RAW files from my Costa Rica trip.

Outdoor, action and wildlife photographers should definitely consider checking out the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. I think you’ll be impressed with how it performs and handles, particularly if you’re considering a camera system that’s smaller and lighter than other brands. It could make a great choice for your workflow…and your work.


Essential Accessory: LaCie 1TB Rugged USB 3.1 Type-C External SSD

A valuable asset when traveling

When you travel to photograph a location or event, it’s essential to have a backup plan. On this trip, a valuable accessory, which was an important part of my backup plan, was the LaCie 1TB Rugged USB 3.1 Type-C External SSD ($250).

The interface is compatible with my MacBook Pro, which proved essential. According to LaCie, this version, which is “slower” than its pricier brand sibling, the 1TB Rugged SSD PRO Thunderbolt 3 External SSD ($400), has data transfer speeds of “up to 950 MB/s, which is enough bandwidth to transfer and edit raw 4K video,” says LaCie. The company says the PRO model has “data transfer speeds of up to 2800 MB/s, which is enough bandwidth to play back 6K, 8K and super slo-mo source files.”

Since I was shooting mostly stills, I wanted an SSD that would be quick, reliable and rugged, which this model certainly was. It was also quite lightweight, just under 5 ounces. And because SSDs are shock resistant (unlike traditional hard drives), they’re far less likely to fail if you accidentally drop them. 

All in all, the SSD successfully stored the thousands of images and video clips from my short Costa Rica trip, which was definitely an example of what I would consider a once-in-a-lifetime type of photo shoot. 

The post First-Look Review: The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III In Costa Rica appeared first on HD Video Pro.

New Highly Anticipated Sony a7S III Announced

Sony’s new a7S III full-frame mirrorless camera with the FE 16-35 F2.8 GM lens

Today, after five years of waiting, Sony made an important camera announcement, particularly for those looking for a high-performing, video-focused full-frame mirrorless camera: Sony introduced the new Sony a7S III camera body. This latest generation of the Sony a7S includes some impressive features and functions that content creators have been asking about for some time, and appears to be a versatile, full-frame ILC camera targeted at those who want the highest quality 4K video. Of course, this model isn’t for everyone: It’s not a high-resolution still-photography camera, since it includes a 12.1-megapixel back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS image sensor. But for video shooting, there’s plenty of specs and features that will entice many videographers and cinematographers.

Sony’s new a7S III full-frame mirrorless camera has a fully swiveling touchscreen LCD.

The new Sony a7S III camera includes :

  • A brand new 12.1-megapixel (approx., effective) back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS image sensor, which Sony says helps to significantly reduced rolling shutter effect;
  • A newly developed BIONZ XR image processing engine, which Sony says has eight times more processing power;   
  • A new 0.64-type 9.44 million-dot (approx.) OLED electronic viewfinder, which has the highest pixel count to date for an EVF;
  • A fully swiveling touchscreen LCD, which is the first for a full-frame Alpha camera;
  • An incredibly sensitive ISO range: ISO 80 to ISO 409,600 for video and ISO 40 to ISO 409,600 for still photos;
  • The ability to shoot 4K up to 120fps as well as Full HD at up to an impressive 240fps;
  • Additional video recording capabilities, such as 4K 120pi, 10 bit 4:2:2 color depth, all-Intra recording, XAVC HS format with H.265 codec;
  • 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization (IBIS), plus an added Active Mode, which Sony says is to support especially difficult handheld-movie shooting scenarios;
  • An entirely redesigned menu system for Sony’s touch screen interface and touch operation;
  • Burst modes with high-speed continuous still-image shooting up to 10 frames per second, for more than 1,000 consecutive uncompressed RAW images with full AF / AE tracking
  • And new Dual CFexpress Type A card slots, which enable high speed data processing while keeping the compact size. 
Sony’s new a7S III full-frame mirrorless camera (back view).
Sony’s new a7S III full-frame mirrorless camera (top view).
Sony’s new a7S III full-frame mirrorless camera (side view).
Sony’s new a7S III full-frame mirrorless camera includes two memory-card slot ports that supports both SD memory cards and the new CFexpress Type A memory cards.

 

 

Sony notes that the camera will provide photographers and videographers with 15+ stops of dynamic range for capturing movies. Plus, it’s the first a7 model that will come with 4K 60p 16-bit RAW video HDMI output, which will be very exciting for movie makers. It also has a Fast Hybrid AF system with 759 point phase-detection AF sensors covering 92% of image sensor.

For those worried about the model heating up, Sony says it developed a new heat dissipating mechanism for the new model. This allows the dual slot relay to shoot over one-hour long 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 movie shooting.

Additionally, as you might have already guessed from the feature specs on the a7S III, Sony has also introduced a new type of memory card: The CFexpress Type A memory card. It’s a new format, is similar to CFexpress Type B cards, which have been available for a few years, but this card is significantly smaller. These new cards will be available this September for $199 for the 80 GB card (CEA-G80T) and $399 for the 160 GB card (CEA-G160T). Additionally, the card reader (MRW-G2) will sell for $119

For more information, see the press releases below.

[[ press release ]]

Highly Anticipated Sony Alpha 7S III Combines Supreme Imaging Performance with Classic “S” Series Sensitivity

New Alpha 7S III Empowers Creators with 4K 120P[i] Video, 10-bit 4:2:2 Recording, 15+ Stop Dynamic Range[ii], Improved AF Performance and Mor 

  • Newly developed BIONZ XR™image processing engine with eight times more processing power[iii] and a brand new 12.1-megapixel (, effective) back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor, significantly reduced rolling shutter effect[iv]
  • Ultra-high sensitivity with ISO range expandable from 40 – 409,600[v], and improved image quality by approximately 1 stop noise reductioniv in the middle and high sensitivity ranges
  • Video recording capabilities include 4K 120pi, 10 bit 4:2:2 color depth, All-Intra recording, XAVC HS format with H.265 codec and more
  • 15+ stop dynamic range for moviesii
  • 4K 60p 16-bit RAW video HDMI output for the first time in the Alpha™ series
  • Fast Hybrid AF system with 759 point phase-detection[vi] AF sensors covering 92% of image sensor
  • Enhanced Real-time Eye AF for movie recording[vii] and still image recording
  • New heat dissipating mechanism and dual slot relay recording enables over one-hour long 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 movie shooting[viii]  
  • 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization supports handheld movie shooting, with added Active Mode [ix] to support especially difficult handheld movie shooting
  • World’s brightest[x] and largestx new 0.64-type 9.44 million-dot () OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Side Opening variable angle LCD screen enhances shooting flexibility
  • Completely redesigned menu system with touch screen interface and touch operation
  • High-speed continuous still image shooting at up to 10fps[xi] for more than 1,000 consecutive uncompressed RAW images[xii] with full AF / AE tracking
  • Dual CFexpress Type A card slots that enable high speed data processing while keeping the compact size

SAN DIEGO – July 28, 2020 –Today, Sony Electronics Inc. announced the long-awaited addition to its acclaimed Alpha 7S full-frame mirrorless camera series⁠ — the Alpha 7S III (model ILCE-7SM3).

Featuring a brand new 12.1MP (approx., effective) back-illuminated full-frame image sensor with ultra-high sensitivity and 15+ stop wide dynamic rangeii, a host of impressive video recording capabilities including 4K 120pi and 10-bit 4:2:2 color depth, a new heat dissipating mechanism, dual slot relay recording enabling over one-hour of 4K 60p movie shootingviii, a new autofocus system, and touch screen interface and side flip LCD screen, the new Alpha 7S III will become the ultimate creative tool for video professionals and all types of hybrid still/video shooters.

“The Alpha 7S III is the ultimate representation of Sony’s passion to solve our customers’ pain points,”, said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “We are always listening to our customers’ feedback, pushing hard to deliver innovation that goes far beyond their expectations. There is no better example than this new camera. Combining classic S series sensitivity with a feature set, performance level and user experience that is simply unmatched in the market today — at any price level — the Alpha 7S III opens up a new world of possibilities for today’s creators.”

The system architecture for the new Alpha 7S III has been completely redesigned to deliver exceptional video and still shooting performance. The new 35mm full-frame 12.1MP (approx., effective) back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor reduces rolling shutter by up to three timesiv and utilizes a variety of advanced light-gathering techniques to ensure high-sensitivity with low noise, allowing users to shoot in low-light situations without needing large-scale lighting setups. In addition to improved image quality, this new image sensor includes a focal plane phase-detection AF system for the first time in an S-series camera. To compliment the new sensor, the Alpha 7S III also includes a new BIONZ XR™ image processing engine that provides up to eight times more processing poweriii, minimizes processing latency, and enables many of the hallmark still and imaging features of the camera. The new system also includes the world’s brightestx and largestx 9.44 million-dot (approx.) OLED electronic eye-level viewfinder and is the world’s first camerax with dual CFexpress Type A card slots, enabling high-speed data transfer in a compact size.

Professional Video Workflow Solutions

The Alpha 7S III offers in-camera 4K recording up to 120 frames per secondi, 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 color sampling, producing stunning video recording. The new camera offers a more flexible and efficient post-production workflow with a variety of advanced movie recording modes such as All-Intra[xiii] and MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 coding (XAVC HS™)[xiv]. The Alpha 7S III makes it easy to integrate video recordings with other professional camcorders by providing three color gamut settings S-Gamut, S-Gamut3, and S-Gamut3.Cine, allowing users to easily match footage shot on the Alpha 7S III with footage shot on the professional camcorders simplifying multi-camera post-production workflow. In addition to S-Log3 gamma curves, the Alpha 7S III supports an HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile with minimum post-production. The Alpha 7S III also allows up to 4K 60p 16-bit RAW output[xv] to an external recorder via HDMI Type-A[xvi] connector, offering additional post-production flexibility.

Improved Image Quality

The new CMOS image sensor and BIONZ XR™ image processing engine in the Alpha 7S III delivers legendary S-series sensitivity with significantly enhanced color reproduction and texture renderings for improved overall image quality. The base ISO has been lowered to 80, resulting in a normal range of 80-102,400 (expandable to 80-409,600 for video and 40-409,600 for stills) to provide more flexible ISO plus wide dynamic range with low noise at all settings. It offers improved image quality by approximately 1 stop of noise reductioniv in the middle and high sensitivity ranges.

The colors and textures of foliage, human skin, and more are ideally and consistently reproduced without dependence on light sources. Gradation rendering has also been refined for better looking skin tones and highlight roll-off in portraits. It also improves AWB (Auto White Balance) performance with a new “Visible light + IR Sensor” that helps to achieve more precise white balance under artificial lighting, including fluorescent and LED lights.

Versatile Operability

Advanced Autofocus Performance for Hybrid use

For the first time in an Alpha 7S series camera, the Alpha 7S III offers Fast Hybrid AF by combining phase-detection and contrast-detection AF, giving it the ability to track subjects over a wide area with outstanding speed, precision and smoothness, even when using a narrow depth of field. Fine focus expression is possible with Sony’s E-mount lenses.

For environments with a lot of movement, Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF are available to maintain constant focus on the intended subject. Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous systemiii, thanks to the new image processing engine. It ensures accurate, reliable detection, even when the subject’s face looks away. Real-time Tracking is initiated simply by touching the subject on the screen. Real-time Eye AF is automatically initiated when an eye is detected.

Flexible Autofocus Settings for Movie Shooting

Based on customer feedback, the camera includes several AF features for professional users including AF Transition Speed in seven settings, to easily create rack-focus transitions, and five AF Subject Shift Sensitivity settings, which allows the user to customize how easily AF will switch or stay with the locked-on subject. Touch Tracking allows user to not only initiate Real-time Tracking, but also compose and shoot while using a gimbal or while shooting solo. It’s now possible to Touch Focus during manual focus mode on the LCD screen or remotely from the Imaging Edge Mobile application[xvii].

New Heat-dissipating Structure

The Alpha 7S III’s design has been updated to ensure effective heat dissipation and minimizes overheating — even during extended continuous recording sessions at 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 video lasting an hour or moreviii. A newly developed unique heat dissipating structure keeps the image sensor and image processing engine temperatures within their normal operating ranges, preventing overheating while maintaining compact body dimensions. The new heat-dissipating structure requires no fan or cabinet vents allowing Alpha 7S III to maintain dust and moisture resistance[xviii].

Movie Assist Functions

For video on-the-go, the Alpha 7S III is the first Alpha series camera to include Active Modeix with 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization to support especially difficult handheld movie shooting. It is also the first Alpha series E-mount body to feature a side-opening vari-angle rear screen, perfect for gimbal-mounted shots, complicated angles, handheld operation and more. The screen rotates sideways, up and down, and features a 3.0 type 1.44 million-dot (approx.) touch panel LCD monitor, for optimal visibility even in bright outdoor environments.

In addition, the Alpha 7S III provides a selection of new Creative Look with 10 presets that can be used for both photo and video shoots, making it easy to create interesting moods right in the camera to be used as is or customized by the user.

A digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe for clearer audio recordings from a compatible Sony external microphone. Used with Sony’s XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit, the Alpha 7S III provides 4-channel 24-bit digital audio recording capability in an Alpha series camera for the first time. Like other MI shoe accessories, no cables or batteries are required, providing unrestrained freedom for Alpha system moviemaking.

Additional movie assist functions include a redesigned monitor display with a bold, clearly visible red frame that makes it clear when recording is in progress even when mounted on a rig or gimbal, custom zoom settings, adjustable white balance while recording, display rotation, interval recording, still extraction from movies and more.

Outstanding Still Image Photography

The Alpha 7S III includes a fast Hybrid AF system with 759 phase-detection AF points covering 92% of the image sensor. The camera can also achieve high AF precision to accurately and reliably focus in light down to EV-6[xix], where subjects are difficult to see clearly even with the naked eye. Users can continuously shoot more than 1,000 uncompressed RAWxii images at up to 10fps, or up to 8fps in live view mode, with either the mechanical or electronic shutter.

The Alpha 7S III also includes the world’s firstx 9.44 million-dot (approx.), 0.64 type Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder with a high-definition OLED display and refined. The Alpha 7S III viewfinder offers a 0.90x viewfinder magnification[xx], 41° diagonal field of view, 25mm high eyepoint for clear, low-distortion corner to corner viewing. It is also dust, fog and moisture resistantxviii, extremely responsive, and has switchable modes for different subject types. Every aspect of the Alpha 7S III viewfinder has been designed and refined for a professional workflow.

For the first time in one of Sony’s digital cameras, the Alpha 7S III includes HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format) allowing for smooth 10-bit gradations and advanced compression technology to maintain image quality while significantly reducing file size and saving storage space. HEIF stills shot in this mode can be played back on a compatible Sony HDR (HLG) TV via a direct HDMI Type-A connection from the Alpha 7S III, delivering true-to-life dynamic range[xxi].

Versatile Design Made for the Pros

CFexpress Type A for High-speed Data Transfer

In another world’s firstx, the Alpha 7S III features two CFexpress Type A compatible media slots which also support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards, enabling high write-and-read speeds while keeping the camera body compact in size. CFexpress Type A cards are ideally suited to high-speed continuous RAW still image shooting as well as 4K 120pi movie recording at high bit rates[xxii], providing next-generation write speeds that can quickly clear the buffers of cameras that generate high volumes of still image and movie data. High-speed data transfer to a PC is possible at about 1.7 times faster[xxiii] than that of SD card. The dual slots can be set to relay mode for extended continuous recording of even the highest bit rate data as well as simultaneous recording and sort by format type recording.

Revised Menu System with Enhanced Touch Screen

The Alpha 7S III also features a revised menu structure for easier navigation and touch-responsive menu operation for faster, more intuitive control. For creators who shoot both stills and movies, separate settings can now be stored for stills and movie shooting for quick transition between the two. 

High Reliability Gives Creators New Freedom

Professional users need more than just refined features and performance. They also need the reliability and durability demanded of any professional tool. The Alpha 7S III features a redesigned grip for greater comfort and a secure hold, an improved dust removal feature, plus dust and moisture resistance xviii that maximizes reliability in challenging environments. It includes a durable, reliable HDMI Type-A connector, and is the first Alpha series camera to support USB PD (Power Delivery), allowing higher power to be supplied from an external source so that users can continue to record for extended periods with minimal internal battery usage.

Advanced Connectivity for Professional Working Environments

The Alpha 7S III has been designed and configured to support photo and video journalists and sports shooters who need to deliver stills or movies as quickly as possible with several advanced connectivity options. The camera supports 5GHz[xxiv]/2.4GHz wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11ac) and offers MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) to improve communication quality by using multiple antennas, doubling in speed when compared to the Alpha7R IV. It also carries new USB tethering support[xxv]. When connected to a 5G (5th generation technology standard for cellular networks) compatible device via USB cable, it is possible to use 5G network for fast and stable FTP file transfer[xxvi]. USB to high-speed wired LAN connectivity[xxvii] also offers stable and fast FTP transfer for both movies and stills. A USB Type-C™ connector that supports fast SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (USB 3.2) data transfer is provided, enabling high-speed PC Remote (tethered) data transfer available for smooth handling of large image files.

Pricing and Availability

The new Alpha 7S III Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will be available in September 2020 for approximately $3,499.99. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

[i] 10% of view cropped

[ii] S-Log3 movies, Sony internal tests

[iii] When compared to the BIONZ X™ image processor

[iv] When compared to Alpha7S II

[v] 40 to 409,600 for stills and 80 to 409,600 for movies. Sony test conditions

[vi] When shooting full-frame still images. The number of AF points used depends on the shooting mode.

[vii] This function does not track animal eyes

[viii] Sony test conditions. XAVC S-I 10-bit 4:2:2, 25 deg C (ambient, camera when recording started), Auto Power Off Temperature: High. The value will vary depending on the shooting conditions. Movie shooting past an hour will continue until battery ends.

[ix] In active mode, the shooting angle of view is slightly narrowed. If the focal length is 200 mm or more, it is recommended to set to standard

[x] As of July 2020, Sony survey. Among full-frame mirrorless cameras

[xi] Up to 10fps in continuous “Hi+” mode, and up to 8fps in continuous “Hi” mode Maximum fps will depend on camera settings

[xii] Requires CFexpress Type A memory card

[xiii] When XAVC S-I 4K or HD is selected via the file format menu

[xiv] Requires compatible memory card

[xv] Atomos Ninja V HDR monitor-recorder support planned. As of July 2020

[xvi] Sony’s Premium High Speed HDMI Cable DLC-HX10 recommended

[xvii] Imaging Edge Mobile Ver. 7.4 or later required

[xviii] Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof

[xix] ISO 100 equivalent, F2.0 lens, AF-S mode

[xx] 50mm lens, infinity, -1m-1 diopter

[xxi] Desktop application “HEIF Converter” for displaying and editing HEIF format is planned to launch in September 2020

[xxii] 4:2:2 10-bit All-I, when recording slow motion

[xxiii] Sony test conditions.

[xxiv] 5 GHz communication may be restricted in some countries and regions

[xxv] Power Delivery supported smartphone is required

[xxvi] Does not guarantee connection with all smartphone. FTP file transfer by USB tethering that utilizes 4G network is also possible

[xxvii] A compatible USB-Ethernet adapter is required

[[ press release ]]

Sony Announces World’s First CFexpress Type A Memory Card with High-speed Performance and Tough Durability

  • Up to 700MB/s[xxvii] write speed and 800MB/si read speed
  • Compact design and advanced functionality
  • Effective heat dissipation design
  • TOUGH specification construction ensures high durability and dust/water resistance
  • Supported by File Scan Utility memory diagnostic software and Memory Card File Rescue data recovery software

SAN DIEGO – July 28, 2020 – Today, Sony Electronics Inc. announced a new generation of media — the world’s first[xxvii] CFexpress Type A memory cards, in both 80GB and 160GB, (CEA-G80T and CEA-G160T) as the most recent addition to Sony’s TOUGH specification cards. Delivering high transfer speed, durability and reliability, Sony’s new CFexpress Type A cards offer professional and stress-free performance for photographers and content creators.

High-speed Performance

Both the CEA-G80T (80GB) and CEA-G160T (160GB) use the latest flash memory control technology to achieve write speeds as high as 700MB/si and read speeds as high as 800MB/si, greatly reducing buffer clearing times for efficient, stress-free shooting. The CFexpress Type A cards are ideally suited for high-speed continuous shooting of more than 1,000 uncompressed RAW still images, as well as 4K 120p movie recording at high bit rates with the Slow & Quick Motion function [xxvii]when paired with new Alpha 7S III, which features two CFexpress Type A compatible media slots, that also support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards, for simultaneous media capture or extended continuous recording of even the highest bit rate data. Compliance with the VPG400 video performance guarantee profile specification ensures stable video recording at 400 MB/s—creating a smooth workflow for professional creators.

Effective Heat Dissipation Design

The new CFexpress Type A memory cards are equipped with a heat sink to transfer heat generated by the card to the exterior when transmitting large amounts of data at high speed, using Sony’s original alloy with excellent thermal conductivity. This enables users to record for long periods of time[xxvii] even when recording 4K 120p video internally.

Tough Durability

Keeping up with Sony’s TOUGH specifications, the new CFexpress Type A memory cards feature bending and impact resistance to protect precious data, even when frequently changing cards in the harshest environments.  They are up to five times more resistant to drop impact and up to ten times more resistant to bending, compared to CFexpress Type A requirement standards, for outstanding durability. In addition, thanks to a specialized internal structure, they achieve an IPX7 water ingress protection rating and an IP5X dust ingress protection rating (IP57) for enhanced durability.

Reliability

Accidents happen. Sony’s Memory Card File Rescue[xxvii] data recovery software allows users to recover accidently deleted RAW images and 4K video from memory cards. In addition, Sony’s Media Scan Utility[xxvii] media diagnostic software will be updated to support CFexpress Type A cards allowing users to diagnose and receive a warning before the number of read/write cycles approaches the card’s limit.

CFexpress Type A/SD Card Reader

Optimized for the new CFexpress Type A memory cards, the CFexpress Type A/SD card reader (MRW-G2) provides SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen 2) transfer speed, via its USB Type-C® connector, allowing creators to establish an efficient workflow when dealing with high-resolution images files, 4K video and other types of high-volume data. When combined with a CFexpress Type A card, it allows users to transfer data approximately 2.8 times faster than with conventional media[xxvii]. The MRW-G2 card reader can be used with CFexpress Type A and SDXC/SDHC (UHS-I and UHS-II) memory cards.

Pricing and Availability

CFexpress Type A memory cards and card reader will be available in September 2020. See below for suggested retail pricing:

###

 

[xxvii] Actual performance may vary and is dependent on environment and usage.

[xxvii] As of July 2020, Sony Survey

[xxvii] 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 color sampling, All Intra recording, when shooting in slow motion.

[xxvii] Depends on camera performance

[xxvii] Does not support data recovery for Content Protected and Game Data files. Not all data may be recoverable.

[xxvii] MRW-G2 CFexpress Type A/SD card reader is required for CFexpress Type A card diagnosis. Diagnosis is not possible with readers from other manufacturers or a direct camera connection.

[xxvii] Sony test conditions. Compared to Sony’s SDXC UHS-II memory card.

The post New Highly Anticipated Sony a7S III Announced appeared first on HD Video Pro.

AP Visual Journalists Switch To Sony Cameras

In this photo shot on Sony equipment, Georganne Moline competes in women’s 300-meter hurdles at the Weltklasse Zurich Inspiration Games at Mt. San Antonio College, July 9, 2020, in Walnut, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Today, Sony and The Associated Press, one of the most prominent global news organizations in photography and video, announced that Sony would be the exclusive provider of imaging products and support for AP news photographers and video journalists for the next two years. It’s yet another sign of Sony’s dominance in the professional full-frame mirrorless camera market, which has in the past few years lured a number of renowned photographers to switch to its mirrorless system, including Doug Mills of The New York Times

One of the reasons the announcement is important is that it’s the first time AP is equipping both its photojournalists and video photographers with gear from the same brand. But like Mills noted when he switched to Sony, the draw to Sony’s system isn’t just about speed or higher resolution, but it’s also about providing its content creators with certain modes and functions, like Sony’s silent electronic shutter mode, which allows photojournalists to work more effectively by being unnoticed. As David Ake, AP’s director of photography, says in AP’s video on the partnership, “We can now work in totally silent mode. We can truly become flies on the wall without that annoying shutter sound interrupting the scene.”

According to the press release, AP has journalists “in nearly 250 locations in 100 countries” and “provides factual, compelling journalism in all formats, including 3,000 photos and 200 videos each day. The news agency has a distinguished history of powerful visual journalism, winning the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography—AP’s 54th Pulitzer and 32nd for photography—and garnering recognition from the Royal Television Society for excellence in video.

Derl Mccrudden, AP’s deputy managing editor, visual and digital journalism, is excited about the move because it will allow the organization to change the way they operate, since teams can share lenses, memory cards, batteries and other equipment. “This is a game changer for AP,” says Mccrudden, “and will give us way more flexibility into the future.”

For more on the story, visit Sony’s Alpha Universe website, or see the press release below:

AP video journalist Renata Brito covers protests at the Spain-France border, Nov. 12, 2019, using Sony equipment. (AP Photo)
AP video journalist Bram Janssen takes video of a silverback mountain gorilla in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, Sept. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this photo shot on Sony equipment, thousands of candles are arranged in the shape of the Milky Way to celebrate Tanabata, a Japanese star festival, at Zojoji Temple, July 5, 2019, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

 

AP collaboration with Sony from The Associated Press on Vimeo.nbsp;

[[press release:]]

AP to Equip all Visual Journalists Globally with Sony Imaging Products

Sony Electronics to become AP’s exclusive global imaging provider for photo and video journalism

July 23, 2020 – Sony Electronics Inc. a global leader in imaging, and The Associated Press, the trusted global news organization, announced today a new collaboration that will make Sony the exclusive imaging products and support provider for AP news photographers and video journalists around the world.

With journalists in nearly 250 locations in 100 countries, AP provides factual, compelling journalism in all formats, including 3,000 photos and 200 videos each day. The news agency has a distinguished history of powerful visual journalism, winning the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography — AP’s 54th Pulitzer and 32nd for photography — and garnering recognition from the Royal Television Society for excellence in video.

A wide variety of Sony’s imaging solutions products will begin delivery immediately, including the full-frame mirrorless Alpha™ cameras, 4K XDCAM video cameras and an assortment of Sony’s 57 E-mount lenses including G Master™ models.

“We are extremely honored to announce this collaboration with The Associated Press, an organization with an incredible history in journalism that continues to raise the bar for global news reporting and delivery,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “The Associated Press is a universally trusted brand for news information in the world. We are honored to equip AP’s journalists with our technology and support, giving them the opportunity to capture, transmit and deliver imagery in ways they never could before.”

“Sony’s history of innovation aligns well with AP’s, and with our vision for the future of visual journalism,” said Derl McCrudden, AP deputy managing editor for visual and digital journalism. “AP is committed to providing the best imagery to our member news organizations and customers across the globe. Adopting Sony’s cutting-edge equipment and technology allows us to do that, by enabling our photographers and video journalists to be faster and more flexible, ultimately creating better visual journalism.”

When the transition to Sony is complete, AP’s video journalists and photographers will for the first time be equipped with the same brand of cameras, allowing for seamless collaboration among the news agency’s journalists as they tell the world’s stories in whatever medium is right for the moment.

AP visual journalists will be able to share Sony’s cameras and lenses, as well as the images they capture, to produce a news report unhindered by technical limitations.

“The new mirrorless technology in Sony’s cameras allows for a completely silent operation, meaning our photojournalists can work in environments without interrupting the scene around them,” said AP Director of Photography J. David Ake. “This is a huge leap forward in photojournalism.”

In addition to delivery of product, AP and Sony will work together to improve workflow and efficiency of field operations, including testing of 5G capabilities.

Sony offers 5G through its Xperia™ product line, which uses technology from its cameras, professional monitors and audio devices.   

The post AP Visual Journalists Switch To Sony Cameras appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Staying Organized, Part 4

In the last of this 4-part series, I’m wrapping up the rest of the master bin structure I use to keep me organized and efficient when editing. Over the years, I’ve found that if I don’t start out organized I end up spending more time than I want to dealing with cluttered bins and trying to find things. 

Finish

Finish

The Finish bin is my catchall bin, whether I do an online finish of another editor’s project or I finish my own. This is also where I put footage coming in from a color session. It’s tempting to put graded scenes in the Footage bin, but I’ve found keeping them separate is less confusing. Sometimes the graded clips have the same names as the original, so it can be hard to quickly distinguish between the two.

If provided, I also put XMLs that I get back from the grading session. I’ll then use this bin to work through the conforming of graded footage to my sequence. Once conformed, I either move a copy of the sequence into the Cuts bin or copy and paste the clips into a finishing sequence that resides in the Cuts bin.

This is also where I put composites, as well as effects shots like stabilization and screen replacements—when I’m not doing it within the edit.

From Others

From Others

In addition to the graphics and graded footage from others mentioned previously, there are other elements that come flying in from clients. These could be reference clips from other shows or the web, sent by the client with words to the effect, “We were thinking it might look something like this.” The From Others bin is a catchall for these clips.

This is also where I put any kind of branding guidelines, color palettes, etc. that I can use for reference during the edit. This and the next bin are the only two bins in the project template that may contain content, even though it’s a template. For some clients, I populate this bin with client-specific content and then save the project template as a client template.

Slugs

Last and—I’ll say it—least is the bin where I put common clips that I use for most projects. As I said above, I actually put content in this bin when I create the template. Instead of creating black/white frames, color bars and tone or slates each time I start a project, I create them in the template so they’re automatically created each time I start a new project.

I also put things in here like masks or overlays for 1×1 or other aspect ratio approval. I might also have other faux interface elements for social media “title safe.” I’ll admit that sometimes this bin becomes a miscellaneous bin. But I’m careful to make sure it doesn’t get too cluttered.

That’s the project bin structure that helps keep me organized during an edit. And it really does help me. Even for quick, one-off projects, I regret it if I don’t use one of my templates because the project can quickly get out of control without some organization.

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3

The post Staying Organized, Part 4 appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Nikon Introduces Z 5 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera, A Kit Lens And 2 Teleconverters

The new Nikon Z 5 with the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 zoom kit lens.

This month, camera companies introduced photographers to some exciting new full-frame mirrorless cameras and lenses. The most notable was from Canon, revealing that it was continuing to expand further into the full-frame mirrorless market with the introductions of the new Canon EOS R5 and R6, as well as a half dozen compatible lenses and teleconverters. Additionally, Leica announced the M10-R full-frame rangefinder mirrorless camera and Sony introduced a new ultra-wide F2.8GM zoom lens for its full-frame mirrorless camera bodies.

Today, Nikon, the other DSLR stalwart, disclosed that it too was expanding its Z-mount mirrorless camera system by announcing four new products: the Nikon Z 5, a new entry-level full-frame mirrorless model; the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 zoom lens, which will be sold as part of a kit and sold individually. Nikon also debuted two new teleconverters–a 1.4x extender and a 2x extender, which are each specifically designed for the Z-series, full-frame mirrorless system.

Pricing and Availability

The new Nikon Z 5 will come in three configurations: $1,399 (body only), $1,699 (with the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 kit zoom lens) and $2,199 (with the Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 kit  lens). You can also purchase the Z 24-50mm zoom lens separately for $399. Nikon also provided pricing on the new extenders: The Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x and the Z Teleconverter TC-2x will be available for $549 and $599, respectively.  All products in this announcement will be available in August.

The new Nikon Z 5 with the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 zoom zoom kit lens.

Nikon Z 5 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera

The new Nikon Z 5 camera will come with a 24.3-megapixel CMOS image sensor and runs on Nikon’s EXPEED 6 image processor. It will come with 273 on-sensor AF points, which Nikon says will allow it to quickly and accurately track subjects using its Eye-Detection AF to help capture human and animal eyes more precisely. Physically speaking, the camera was designed with a magnesium alloy shell, which makes it lightweight and compact

Other features include:

  • A flexible and creative movie recording mode in 4K UDH/30p or 1080/60p;
  • A 3.2-inch LCD monitor and 3.6-million-dot Quad-VGA electronic viewfinder;
  • An ISO range up to ISO 51,200 (and expandable to ISO 102,400), which Nikon says allows the camera effectively reduces noise, maintaining both high sensitivity and resolution to excel in low-light situations;
  • Its top shutter speed is 1/8000 sec.;
  • A burst mode of 4.5 frames per second, with full AF/AE;
  • In-Body 5-Axis VR stabilization;
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity that can be used with Nikon’s SnapBridge mobile app;
  • And two dual UHS-II SD card slots        

Like past Z-series camera bodies, the Z 5 can use traditional F-mount NIKKOR lenses via the Mount Adapter FTZ. The Z 5 also comes with a silent photography mode, and also runs on a new battery—the EN-EL15c battery. The camera also has full manual mode, a wide array of automatic creative modes, 20 Creative Picture controls and advanced features, like Focus Shift Shooting and multiple exposure mode, which Nikon says lets users “compose unique images, produce extraordinary depth of field, or combine several shots and layer images on top of each other with the in-camera image overlay function.” Nikon says the Z 5 will also include a new Time-Lapse Movie mode that “gives users the best of both worlds for more streamlined movie making—the ability to use images from interval timer mode and create a time-lapse in-camera. However, Nikon said the Z 5 won’t have is the same robust video features found on the Nikon Z 6.

New Kit Lens: Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3

Nikon says the new NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 is “the smallest FX-format NIKKOR Z lens.” It’s a very compact lens, which makes it great for travel or street photos. It’s also less than three inches long when retracted and weighs 6.9 ounces. It has a lens optical design of 11 elements in 10 groups (2 ED glass elements, 3 aspherical elements and a super integrated coating) and has 7 diaphragm blades. It also has a minimum focus distance of 1.15 ft.

Nikon’s Z Teleconverter TC-2x lens (with Nikon’s NIKKOR 70-200mm zoom lens)
Nikon’s Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x lens (with Nikon’s NIKKOR 70-200mm zoom lens)

Powerful Lens Accessories: Nikon’s Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x and TC-2x

Teleconverters serve a diverse set of photographers, from nature shooter to sports photographers as well as travel and street shooters, allowing all of them to acquire more telephoto reach and get closer to the action. It’s why Nikon developed two new extenders: The Nikon  Z teleconverter TC-1.4x and TC-2x, which allow photographers to add 1.4x and 2.0x magnification, respectively to their system lenses. As Nikon’s press release points out, the extenders reduce “the need to crop images and allowing for tighter compositions with maximum resolution.” Additionally, Nikon says each extender retain functionality “on all focus points up to f/11, making it easy to focus on and track subjects throughout the entire frame.”

Nikon says each teleconverter has “same robust construction as NIKKOR Z lenses, the teleconverters are designed with a fluorine coating on the front and rear elements to resist dirt and smudges, and offer a durable, weather-sealed body to protect against the elements.” What’s more is that Nikon says these new teleconverters will be “compatible with applicable interchangeable lenses for Nikon Z mount mirrorless cameras that Nikon will release in the future.”

In addition to the four new products, Nikon also announced it was developing a new Webcam utility software for Nikon Cameras.  For more information, see the press release below.

Learn more about the Nikon Z 5 at B&H.

[[ press release ]]

EMBARK ON THE FULL-FRAME MIRRORLESS JOURNEY: NIKON UNVEILS THE Z 5, AN INNOVATIVE AND FEATURE-RICH MIRRORLESS FX-FORMAT CAMERA FOR EMERGING CREATORS 

Nikon Expands the NIKKOR Z Lens Lineup with the Addition of the Extremely Compact and Versatile NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 as well as the new Z TELECONVERTER TC-2.0X and TC-1.4X; Nikon Also Announces Free Webcam Utility

MELVILLE, NY (July 21, 2020) Today, Nikon Inc. announced the Z 5, the new full-frame (FX-format) entry-point into its award-winning lineup of Z series mirrorless cameras. The Nikon Z 5 combines sophisticated features inherited from the Z 7 and Z 6 with the benefits of Nikon’s next generation Z mount at an unprecedented value. For those new to mirrorless or creators looking to push the limits of their craft with the power of full-frame, the compact Z 5 will exceed expectations. With an incredibly robust feature set, including in-camera vibration reduction (VR) image stabilization (IBIS) and the perfect balance of seamless automation and full manual control, creators can effortlessly share their artistic passions, travel adventures and so much more.   

Nikon also unveiled the new NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3, the shortest, lightest and most affordable full-frame zoom lens in the NIKKOR Z lineup. Designed for on-the-go creators, the 24-50mm lens is the ideal companion for Z series users who want to capture it all – from vast landscapes and cityscapes, to street photography and striking portraits.

“The Nikon Z 5 offers the next generation of creators a gateway into the full-frame Z series lineup, opening the door to the limitless possibilities of mirrorless photo and video capture, while providing the means to share their creativity with others,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. “With the addition of the NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3, Nikon is introducing the smallest full-frame NIKKOR Z lens to date, providing an extremely lightweight, versatile option to help users pursue all creative endeavors, regardless of which Z series camera they use.”

Nikon Z 5: The Full-Frame Journey Starts Here

As the new entry point to Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless lineup, the Nikon Z 5 offers a lot of power and capabilities at an attractive price, empowering the next generation to begin their journey with the confidence to learn and grow as creators.

  • Incredible Image Quality: Featuring a powerful FX-format 24.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, the Z 5 is the gateway to the benefits of full-frame, helping creators to capture intensely detailed images, ultra-shallow depth of field and clean low-light shots with unrivaled consistency. From portraits that flatter, nighttime landscapes that astound and street shots that impress, the gorgeous tones, faithful colors, minimal noise, and revered Nikon color science all play a part to help users capture images that are true to their vision.
  • High Speed Performance and Processing: Engineered with the EXPEED 6, Nikon’s fastest image processor to date, the Z 5 is a dependable, high-performance tool designed for content creation. EXPEED 6 allows for a boost in processing power and energy efficiency while rendering subtle textures and small details with amazing results.
  • Stellar Low-Light Performance: With an ISO range up to 51,200 (expandable to 102,400), the camera effectively reduces noise, maintaining both high sensitivity and resolution to excel in low-light situations, making it ideal for shooting everything from low-light events to an all-nighter under the Milky Way.
  • Capture with Speed: With shutter speeds up to 1/8000, the Z 5 can capture fast-moving subjects with clarity including fast-action sports and wildlife. This higher maximum shutter speed enables photographers to better tame even the brightest mid-day light to unleash the potential of fast-aperture NIKKOR glass. When the moment strikes, the camera can also capture full resolution bursts at 4.5 fps with full AF/AE.
  • Silent and Smooth: The combination of the camera’s silent photography mode and In-Body 5-Axis VR stabilization provides quiet, stable shooting to document sensitive moments without distractions.
  • Vast Lens Selection: Whether shooting glamorous portraits from a studio on the sidewalk, long-distance wildlife, epic wide landscapes in the field or street photography, the growing lineup of NIKKOR Z lenses provides Z 5 users the versatility to capture incredible shots with sharpness across the frame and superior light gathering in any situation. For even more flexibility, the vast array of traditional F-mount NIKKOR lenses can be used via the Mount Adapter FTZ to enhance images with a unique focal length or beautiful bokeh, while gaining the benefits of in-body stabilization.
  • Dual UHS-II SD Card Slots: Equipped with two UHS-II card slots for overflow, backup or separating RAW and JPEG photos, the Z 5 enables photographers to shoot with extreme confidence when using widely available consumer SD cards.

Simple Yet Sophisticated for Expanding Creativity

A great option for emerging creators getting started, the Nikon Z 5 is packed with powerful tools and user-friendly controls to help users explore and capture their artistry with ease.

  • Focus Anywhere: The Z 5 boasts 2731 on-sensor AF points, to quickly and accurately track subjects throughout the frame, while Eye-Detection AF capabilities help precisely capture the eyes of humans and animals. The wide array of AF points covers nearly the entire frame, and multiple AF modes allows the user to have pinpoint control or fully automatic assurance to easily lock onto a subject.
  • Easily Shift Gears: The Nikon Z 5 offers the ability to effortlessly switch between manual mode for the ultimate in control, as well as a large variety of automatic creative modes to help mirrorless users capture truly distinct images and video.
  • Creativity Built-in: Equipped with 20 Creative Picture Controls, and advanced features like Focus Shift Shooting and multiple exposure mode, users can compose unique images, produce extraordinary depth of field, or combine several shots and layer images on top of each other with the in-camera image overlay function.
  • Advanced Video Capture: The Z 5 makes it easy to document any creative vision in 4K UHD/30p2 or in 1080/60p (full-frame). When recording video, the PDAF system is rapid to react, allowing users to quickly lock critical focus on subjects, and is fully customizable to fit any production style. In-camera VR image stabilization and electronic VR reliably eliminate the shake when shooting video, plus users get the added benefit of focus peaking and the ability to capture stills while recording.
  • Flexible Recording Modes: In addition to the traditional interval timer and in-camera time-lapse modes, the Nikon Z 5 is equipped with a new Time-Lapse Movie mode that gives users the best of both worlds for more streamlined movie making – the ability to use images from interval timer mode and create a time-lapse in-camera.
  • Unique Lighting Options: For enhanced creative control, the camera features a hot shoe, and is fully compatible with the Nikon Speedlight wireless lighting system.
  • Get Connected: The Nikon SnapBridge3 app makes it easy to remotely control the Z 5 or seamlessly transfer and share content to a smartphone, tablet, Mac, or PC thanks to built-in Wi-Fi®4 and Bluetooth®5 

Rugged Reliability and Engineered for Versatility

In addition to providing high-quality imaging capabilities, the Nikon Z 5 is compact and comfortable in-hand while promising the rugged reliability as well as innovative features and controls that Nikon is known for.

  • Legendary Nikon Build: Designed with a durable, weather-sealed exterior for worry-free use, the Z 5 employs the same magnesium alloy shell and robustness as the Z 6 and Z 7. Both the camera and NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens are built with consideration for dust and drip resistance and are ready to tackle the next adventure.
  • Functional Operability: The camera sports a powerful, high-resolution 3.2-inch LCD monitor with the capabilities to tilt, touch, tap, swipe, and pinch for an intuitive and flexible user-experience. Meanwhile, the 3.6M-dot Quad-VGA EVF ensures users can see exposure, ISO, white balance and creative picture controls in real time, making the transition from optical viewfinders seamless for new mirrorless shooters.
  • Packed with Power: Powered by the new EN-EL15c battery, the Z 5 offers significant advancements in the number of shots per charge and is the first Nikon camera to enable constant power through the USB port, even with select portable USB power banks6. For added power and grip, the camera is also compatible with the MB-N10 hot-swappable battery pack.
  • Webcam Ready: When connected via the USB-C cord, the Z 5 can be used as a webcam, making the camera a great option for modern vloggers, influencers and gamers looking to improve their livestreaming capabilities.

NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3: Portable, Yet Powerful

The NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 is the latest addition to the rapidly expanding lineup of NIKKOR Z lenses and is the smallest FX-format NIKKOR Z lens yet. Optically designed to take advantage of the advancements of the wide Z mount, this lens delivers sharpness across the entire frame and a versatile zoom range for everyday use. The 24-50mm is less than three inches long when retracted, making it the perfect lens for shooters seeking a versatile yet compact option for lightweight travel and street photography. When used together, the Z 5 and 24-50mm lens are the ideal discrete travel kit that can easily be packed and carried for all-day adventures. This compact NIKKOR Z lens is also an enticing option for Z 6 and Z 7 users who want a small all-around lens for portraits, landscapes, and street photography.

New Z Teleconverters Take NIKKOR Z Lenses to New Lengths

Designed for photographers and videographers who need more telephoto reach in their kit, the new Z TELECONVERTER TC-1.4X and Z TELECONVERTER TC-2.0X bring added versatility with 1.4x and 2.0x magnification to select NIKKOR Z lenses. These lightweight teleconverters are great tools for those photographing sports, wildlife and aviation, reducing the need to crop images and allowing for tighter compositions with maximum resolution.

The new TC-1.4X and TC-2.0X teleconverters maintain superior rendering performance and minimize various lens aberrations, while retaining focusing speed, VR functionality and minimum focusing distance. As an added benefit, the new teleconverters allow Nikon Z series cameras to retain functionality on all focus points up to f/11, making it easy to focus on and track subjects throughout the entire frame. Featuring the same robust construction as NIKKOR Z lenses, the teleconverters are designed with a fluorine coating on the front and rear elements to resist dirt and smudges, and offer a durable, weather-sealed body to protect against the elements. 

When the teleconverters are used with the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S (availability scheduled for late August), the focal length on the telephoto end is extended to 280mm (1.4x) or 400mm (2.0x) producing a significant expansion of this telephoto lens’ shooting range. These new teleconverters will also be compatible with applicable interchangeable lenses for Nikon Z mount mirrorless cameras that Nikon will release in the future.

New Webcam Utility Software for Nikon Cameras

In August, Nikon will release a beta version of the Webcam Utility software for many Nikon DSLR and Z series mirrorless cameras, including the new Z 5. Initially available for Windows 10, the free software will allow compatible Nikon cameras to be used as webcams. When connected via USB, this free software will provide users with incredible sharpness, clarity and flattering depth of field for all of their livestreaming needs including teleconferencing and gaming.

For more information on how to use your Nikon camera as a webcam, please visit https://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/live-streaming-with-nikon-cameras.page

Pricing and Availability

The Nikon Z 5 will be available in August in several configurations, including body-only for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $1,399.95*, a one-lens kit with the new NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 for an SRP of $1,699.95* and a one-lens kit with the NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens for an SRP of $2,199.95* for those seeking extra reach when photographing wildlife or travel adventures. Also available in August, the NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens can be purchased separately for an SRP of $399.95*. The new Z TELECONVERTER TC-1.4X and TC-2.0X will have an SRP of $549.95 and $599.95 respectively and will be available in late August.

 

 

 

The post Nikon Introduces Z 5 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera, A Kit Lens And 2 Teleconverters appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Staying Organized, Part 3

Previously, in Part 2, I showed how I set up my master bin structure for sequences and footage. This bin structure is then saved as a template so that I can start off organized when I begin a project. Now on to other bins that store a wide variety of content.

Selects

I use this bin to store sequences of select shots. For some projects, I line up all the takes into one timeline, cutting out all the gaps. This way if I need to show a director all the takes of a scene, I can quickly do it. I might also build b-roll montages in this bin.

Stills

While they might be considered footage, stills get their own bin. Often, I get a boatload of stills and it helps to have a separate place apart from footage. Since this bin contains only stills, I can use an icon view to quickly see what I have. I know the thumbnail represents a still and not moving footage.

Graphics

Full frame and keyable graphics go in this bin. Whether I create them myself or work with a motion graphics designer, I keep it all straight here. I also have a separate Type sub bin where I store things like lower thirds/name supers and legal disclaimers.

Audio

There are several sub bins for audio that are useful at the start of a project and at the finish. I mentioned before that I move production audio away from the footage folders. I’ve found it helps keep things straight because sometimes—over multiple days’ shoots, using different location audio crews—naming conventions can stray from the camera footage folder’s naming schemes. So there’s a bin for Production Audio, in addition to the usual audio elements. If I create scratch tracks, they’ll go into the VO bin in a separate Scratch bin.

Nests

Nests are actually just sequences. However, if you use nesting a lot, those sequences can quickly overwhelm a bin. I like to have a bin just for nests and, most importantly, I appropriately name the nest when it’s created.

Unfortunately, when the nest is created it’s put at the top level of the project. I make sure to move the newly created nest into the Nest bin before I do anything else. That’s another reason why I have a Nest bin at the top level rather than as a sub bin in something like the Cuts bin.

I’ll finish up the rest of the bin structure for my template next time.

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 4

The post Staying Organized, Part 3 appeared first on HD Video Pro.

What Makes 32-Bit Floating Point Audio Powerful

The new Zoom F6 MultiTrack Recorder was the first audio recorder to hit the market that supports 32-bit Floating Point audio recording.

For this Audio Assist column, we’ll explore a relatively new technology in location-sound recording called 32-bit float point audio, which is a new way of recording sound and processing it in post.

Characterizing Common Recording Problems          

Before delving into this new technology, I’d like to discuss some common problems you might encounter when recording audio. (That’s because one of the main benefits of 32-bit float point audio is to overcome certain audio recording problems.)

Up until now, when it came to recording audio, there’s an axiom often used by many who work in production: If you capture bad quality audio, generally you’re out of luck. It’s a statement that seems odd in an era when there are so many great postproduction sound tools, plug-ins and technologies.

Sound mixing today means setting your recording levels correctly. This is an older mixer with large LED VU meters. With 32-bit floating point audio, manually setting levels is becoming less important than it used to be.

However, what exactly does this axiom mean? What is actually meant by “poorly recorded location sound?” To me, it can mean many things. Just consider the following list I’ve compiled of recording problems due to poorly recorded location sound and their effects on the audio file to see what I mean:

  1. Incorrect Microphone Placement: Low signal-to-noise ratio (S/N), echo, reverb, too much ambient noise, clothing/facial hair/jewelry rubbing on lavalier, etc.
  2. Ambient Noise Issues: Sound recorded in any environment with your dialog that is not the desired sound—wind, AC hum, air conditioning/heating noise, elevators, air or street traffic, lawn mower, leaf blower, dogs barking, birds chirping, construction noise, trash trucks, insects buzzing, etc.
  3. Excess Reverb/Echo: The result of recording talent in a reverberant room or environment.
  4. Bad Microphone Choice: Each type, model and brand of microphone reproduces a voice or sound in its own unique way.
  5. Defective Equipment Noise or Bad-Quality Recording: Such unwanted audio can be due to a variety of causes, including cable noise, intermittent or shorting connection points with the gear and or cables, RF noise issues with wireless microphone systems, moisture/humidity levels with certain microphones, dirty pots on recorders or mixers, etc.

However, the ones I just listed aren’t really the most common problems. In my experience, the two most common are recording levels that are either too low or too high.

Recording Levels That Are Too Low

If you record your audio signal at too low of a level, here’s what will happen:  

You—or the video editor or sound mixer (whoever is responsible for the soundtrack of your project)—will have to raise the audio levels to a standardized level in post to distribute the edited project. But when you raise those low audio levels from a very minimal nominal level to a much higher, corrected level of, say, -12dB or -6dB peak, you also increase all of the corresponding noise in the recording.

The end result is that the increased noise will often mask the dialog that you need to hear. So, the only choice is to raise the nominal audio levels and apply judicious dialog editing and noise reduction.

Modern noise reduction tools are amazing and have improved tremendously over the past decade, but even the best of them tend to noticeably alter the tone and quality of the remaining audio that you want. I use an audio repair toolkit called iZotope RX 7. It’s a good tool. But it can’t perform miracles. When you apply software like iZotope to a low-level recording, the end result is louder and somewhat cleaner, but the voices tend to sound metallic, with compressed dynamic range and often a honky-mid-range enhanced sound that isn’t natural.

Recording Levels That Are Too High

Conversely, if you record your audio levels too high, you’ll over-modulate—or “distort” or “clip”—the audio waveform. In my experience, this can happen even with the most competent of location sound recorders. If you set your recording levels on your talent and they are changing the level of their voice in the performance, generally the sound mixer will attempt to ride the gain levels on the recording device, whether the sound recorder is a camera, sound recorder or portable recorder placed on the talent.

But if the talent laughs, screams, yells or makes any kind of loud sound, the resulting recording will often be distorted.

A commonly used strategy to mitigate this problem is to use a duplicate input second channel and set the recording levels on the second channel a pre-determined amount lower than the main recording channel. This is often referred to as a “safety” channel and can help to reduce the over-modulation or distortion. But then you have to dedicate two channels/tracks on your recorder to each microphone.

Often in scenes with more than one or two talent, you run out of channels to record each talent with a safety channel.

The Benefits Of 32-Bit Floating Point Audio

However, when it comes to the two most common recording problems—recording levels that are either too low or too high—there is a powerful solution: 32-bit floating point audio. And here’s why—it has greater dynamic range than either 24- or 16-bit audio files.

Now, it’s important to point out that at this moment, in 2020, the most widely-used file format in the pro audio world is a 24-bit, 48 kHz WAV file, which has a dynamic range of 144.5 dB. (By comparison, a 16-bit file has a dynamic range of 96.3 dB.)

But the dynamic range that can be represented by a 32-bit (floating point) file is 1,528 dB, which seems unreal when you consider that the greatest difference in sound pressure on earth can theoretically be only about 210 dB—everything from the extreme quiet of an anechoic chamber to a massive shockwave. This means that recording even gunshots, explosions, the loudest screams to the faintest whisper can all be recorded at the “correct” audio level, regardless of where you have set your gain levels on your recorder!

Final Cut Pro is one of the few video editing tools that currently support 32-bit floating point audio files.

It almost defies logic for how most of us were taught to record audio levels correctly.

Here’s how it generally works: When a DAW or audio editor first reads a 32-bit file, signals that are greater than 0 dBFS may first appear clipped since, by default, files are read in with 0 dB of gain applied. But that’s just how it looks! When you apply attenuation to the file in the DAW or editor, signals above 0 dBFS can be brought below 0 dBFS, undistorted, and used just like any 24- or 16-bit file.

In short, for 32-bit float recording, the exact setting of the trim and fader gain while recording is no longer a worry, from a fidelity standpoint. The recorded levels may appear to be either very low or very high while recording, but they can easily be scaled after recording by the DAW software with no additional noise or distortion.

Limitations And Drawbacks Of 32-Bit Floating Point Audio

While 32-bit floating point audio is very impressive in terms of fixing audio with levels too high or too low, it can’t fix all problems or issues. Here are some instances it won’t repair:

Microphone Distortion: Even though audio recorders that utilize this technology can theoretically record basically any sound without distortion, it’s important to remember that sound enters a recorder through a microphone. And any mic can distort. In fact, it’s still relatively easy to distort the diaphragm of a microphone.

If you are recording exceptionally loud sounds, you still need to choose the right type and specification of the microphone carefully. It’s also important to know where you place the microphone in relation to the sound so that it’s capable of actually capturing the sounds you want to without distorting the microphone’s diaphragm itself.

It Doesn’t Apply To Outputs: One common question regarding this new technology is, “Does 32-bit floating point output from a recorder/mixer mean that the audio signal coming into my camera from the mixer/recorder is also 32-bit floating point?”

In a nutshell, no. If you utilize a 32-bit floating point-capable recorder/mixer and run the output to any camera, the audio that the camera records will be affected by your gain choices, and you will record your audio either too low or too high. The only way to solve this problem is to take the 32-bit floating point files from the audio recorder and set their levels in a DAW or editing app that supports the same 32-bit floating point audio and import them into the video editor or use the video editor itself if it supports 32-bit floating point files natively. 

Everything Else: Using 32-bit floating point audio won’t prevent any of the audio problems we listed at the beginning of the article—for instance, if a lavalier is placed on talent and rubs on skin or material or if the lavalier has cable noise, RF noise or shorts. Or, say there are ambient sound issues or you made a poor microphone choice or didn’t place it correctly—32-bit floating point does nothing to save, fix or repair these and many other issues. So, you still need to apply skill and experience to every other aspect of the location sound challenge.

Increased File Size: One downside of 32-bit floating point audio is that the file sizes are 100% larger than 16-bit files and 50% larger than 24-bit files. So, be sure to note any long takes for your project that you plan to record using 32-bit floating point technology.

Above: The three new models in the Sound Devices MixPre-3 II lineup, which all support 32-bit floating point audio recording. The Sound Devices MixPre-3 II (top) offers three microphone preamps and can record up to five tracks. The Sound Devices MixPre-6 II (middle) comes with four microphone preamps and can record up to eight tracks. The top-of-the-line Sound Devices MixPre-10 II (bottom) has eight microphone preamps and can record up to 12 tracks.

 

Recorders, DAWs & Video Editors Supporting 32-Bit Floating Audio

Although 32-bit floating audio is still a new technology, there are already some products on the market that support this new specification. At press time, I found the following audio mixer/recorders available, although most professional audio recorders that are designed from here on out will most likely support 32-bit floating point audio.

Additionally, most modern Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) and some video-editing software can read 32-bit float files. Here’s what’s currently available: 

Audio Mixers & Recorders

  • Zoom F6 Six Input, 14-Track MultiTrack Field Recorder
  • Sound Devices MixPre-3 II 3-preamp 5-track recorder
  • Sound Devices MixPre-6 II 4-preamp 8-track recorder
  • Sound Devices Mix-Pre-10 II 8-preamp 12-track recorder
  • Tentacle Sync Track E Recorder (announced shipping as of NAB 2020)

Digital Audio Tools

  • Adobe Audition 2015.2.1
  • Audacity 2.02
  • Boom Recorder 8.7.3
  • iZotope RX 7
  • Pro Tools HD 10 (Pro Tools 2019.12)
  • Reaper 64 v6.01
  • Steinberg Cubase LE 9.5
  • Steinberg Nuendo 10.2

Video Editing Software

  • Apple FCPX 10.4.6 – Yes
  • Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 (partial support: waveform displays and outputs appear to be 24-bit, outputs will clip if signal is > 0dBFS)

At press time, AVID Media Composer 2020 and DaVinci Resolve 16 didn’t yet support 32-bit float files, but keep in mind that 32-bit floating point recorders only just hit the market last year. That’s why more digital audio tools (like DAWs) support it than video editing tools, as of today. Also keep in mind that you can record 32-bit floating point audio files and just use an audio tool to export “rescued” audio files when and where needed to import into your video editing software.

Lastly, it’s very likely that upcoming updates from all of the popular video-editing applications will soon integrate support for 32-bit floating point audio.

The Tentacle Sync Track E will be a powerful tool for recording clean 32-bit floating point audio for solo shooters. The company has stated the Track E will ship later in 2020.

Final Thoughts On 32-Bit Floating Point Audio

We should be excited by 32-bit floating point audio recording because it represents a totally new way to think about audio levels during recording. To be practical, though, as of today, there are only four professional audio recorder/mixers that implement this technology. If you need a new audio recorder/mixer, I highly advise at least trying it out before you buy to see if this is something that is important to your workflow.

Then, ask yourself: Do you shoot, then deliver footage and sound files at the end of a shoot to a client, agency or editor? Are they utilizing a workflow and software that support 32-bit floating point audio? If so, will they be expecting 32-bit floating point audio files?

If you are your own editor or sound mixer, are you using software that supports it? Keep in mind that all of the recorders currently available also can be used for regular 24-bit fixed point recording, so it may be that for your normal, day-to-day workflow, utilizing 24-bit is better. Reserving the 32-bit floating point audio for the times when you may need its capabilities is more practical, at this point.

If you are a solo video shooter, a sound mixer who sometimes has to do bag drops where you leave your sound bag unattended to record, for instance, for car scenes where you cannot be in the back seat to monitor, this technology is great and will help you do a better job.

If you’re a sound designer or someone who records sound design elements, 32-bit floating point audio will change how you record your work. Recording extremely loud or dynamic sounds will become easier, although microphone selection and gain staging in certain scenarios will still be important.

It seems that with the advent of this technology, there is a good chance that future recorders and even camera audio may eventually implement 32-bit floating point audio.

But for now, you’ll have to determine if this is technology that you want to buy and begin using today, or if it’s an exciting preview of what may become commonplace soon. Either way, it’s an amazing tool that holds great promise to increase the quality of audio in many situations.

But remember that this technology doesn’t in any way negate how important it is to hire a professional sound mixer whenever you have the budget to do so as recording good-quality sound is reliant on so much more than just setting correct recording levels. In my view, a sound pro is worth his or her weight in gold. But for those situations where it’s not possible, 32-bit floating point audio could be a key technology for you to investigate.

The post What Makes 32-Bit Floating Point Audio Powerful appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Leica Introduces New 40-Megapixel M10-R Rangefinder

Leica’s new M10-R rangefinder

Today, Leica announced the new 40-megapixel M10-R rangefinder digital camera, which will be compatible with its broad range of Leica M-series lenses. The new model, which Leica says will be its new flagship model, is the fifth M10-series model in its product line, along with the M10, M10-P, M10-D and M10 Monochrom.

Lecia says the “M10-R’s newly developed 40 megapixel sensor represents a considerable increase from the 24 megapixels of the M10, and yet the M10-R offers significantly reduced image noise as well as a wider dynamic range.”

Other notable features on the new M10-R include:

  • A new 40-megapixel full-frame color sensor.
  • An ISO range of ISO 100 to ISO 50000.
  • A new maximum shutter-speed time: 16 minutes, for more creative freedom with long exposures in the darkest light.
  • It has a 3-button camera design, plus an ISO dial.
  • The ability to shoot 4.5 frames per second in burst mode.
  • The company claims the model has “a super quiet mechanical shutter,” inherited from the M10-P.

The Leica M10-R will be available at the end of this month for $8,295 in two body finishes, black chrome and silver chrome.

The Leica M10-R rangefinder (silver chrome version)
The Leica M10-R rangefinder (top)
The Leica M10-R rangefinder (back)
The Leica M10-R rangefinder (side)

For more information, see the press release below, or visit Leica’s website.

[[ press release ]]

LEICA CAMERA ELEVATES IMAGE QUALITY WITH NEW M10-R

A new 40-megapixel color sensor brings broader capabilities into the creative landscape 

July 16, 2020 – Leica Camera introduces a new high-resolution version of the company’s legendary rangefinder camera, expanding vivid creative possibilities from the most human moments in street photography to the most epic landscapes. With its unique 40 megapixel color sensor, the new Leica M10-R delivers enhanced rendition of details to fully explore the optical excellence of the legendary Leica M lenses.  This new flagship expands the M10 family, which includes the M10, M10-P, M10-D and M10 Monochrom, and achieves maximum image output without compromising the tenets of M photography.

The M10-R’s newly developed 40 megapixel sensor represents a considerable increase from the 24 megapixels of the M10, and yet the M10-R offers significantly reduced image noise as well as a wider dynamic range. The sensitivity range of this new sensor, from ISO 100 to 50000, ensures it can be used in any situation a photographer may need. That base ISO of 100 helps allow bright light photos where the aperture can be kept wide-open for better background blur and bokeh, while on the other side of the spectrum the maximum exposure time has been increased to 16 minutes for more creative freedom with long exposures in the darkest light. Complementing the Leica M10-R’s imaging prowess and handling is its super quiet mechanical shutter, inherited from the M10-P. Its whisper-quiet operation helps the user be stealthy, when capturing that decisive moment requires the utmost discretion, and its minimal vibrations reduce the risk of camera shake to help yield sharper pictures.

As with all of Leica’s rangefinder cameras, the construction of the M10-R involves a large amount of hand assembly utilizing the best quality materials by highly trained specialists, carried out at the company’s production plant in Wetzlar, Germany. This ensures that the large number of components – such as the complex rangefinder mechanism – not only perform with the utmost precision but are also particularly robust and long-lasting. A Leica M is synonymous with reliability and durability, making it a valuable long-term investment.

The Leica M10-R reaches its full potential when paired with its native Leica M lenses. The camera has the capacity to fully utilize the outstanding imaging performance of this legendary, longstanding lens range. The M10-R truly sings when paired with the newest generation of Leica’s technical marvels of optics, such as the APO-Summicron-M 50 f/2 ASPH., capturing photographs of a truly exceptional quality. Concurrently, the M10-R’s newfound heights of image quality and resolution also emphasizes the distinct characteristics of older M lenses, many of which are still cherished by vintage photography enthusiasts to this day.

The Leica M10-R will be available end of July at Leica Stores, Boutiques and Dealers for $8,295.00 in black chrome and silver chrome finishes.

The post Leica Introduces New 40-Megapixel M10-R Rangefinder appeared first on HD Video Pro.

New Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K Captures 12K-Resolution Video

The new Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K

Today, during a live online event, Blackmagic Design made an exciting announcement: It introduced the new Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K. In the livestream, Blackmagic Design company founder and CEO, Grant Petty, said, “We’re really focused on high-end film,” with the new camera. He also admitted that the new model looks very much like the URSA Mini Pro (the previous 4.6K version), but that “the inside has been completely changed,” from its predecessor. And instead of focusing on Bayer sensors, Petty said they’d designed the sensor for this model for the extreme high-end film market. “Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K has advanced imaging technology into a new generation where new styles of shooting will be possible,” Petty said. “It’s not just the 12K sensor, but there are so many other innovations in this camera. From the Generation 5 Color Science, the in-sensor scaling, new symmetrical color pattern, full RGB quality and of course the 12K resolution, it’s going to be exciting to see what DOPs do creatively with this technology!”

The new camera will be available for $9,995 later this month.

The new Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K (body only)
The new Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K (back vew)

 

Blackmagic Design says the URSA Mini Pro 12K features:  

  • a revolutionary new sensor with a native resolution of 12,288 x 6480, which is an incredible 80 megapixels per frame. Also, the new Super 35 sensor should have 14 stops of dynamic range and a native ISO of 800;
  • Customers will be able to shoot, natively, in 4K, 6K, 8K and 12K resolutionos, with stunning color and image quality.
  • The URSA Mini Pro has an interchangeable lens mount, which lets customers choose from the widest range of vintage and modern cinema lenses. The company says customers “can capture every ounce of character and detail from their favorite optics.”
  • This new 3rd generation model supports new Blackmagic Generation 5 Color Science and higher Blackmagic RAW performance, all in the award winning URSA Mini Pro camera body. The URSA Mini Pro 12K sensor and Blackmagic RAW were both designed together to make 12-bit RAW workflows in 12K effortless.
  • It has the next-generation codec Blackmagic RAW, which the company says lets customers shoot 12K and edit on a laptop, a capability that simply isn’t possible with other codecs.
  • Also, Blackmagic RAW is designed to accelerate 12K for post production, making it as easy to work with as standard HD or Ultra HD files.

Additionally, Blackmagic RAW has been optimized for Metal, CUDA and OpenCL. It also has Generation 5 Color Science with new film curve; the ability to shoot up to 60 fps in 12K, 110 fps at 8K and 220 fps at 4K; Dual-card CFast recording at up to 900MB/s; an included PL-mount (EF and F mounts available); a SuperSpeed USB-C for recording to external disks; a copy of DaVinci Resolve Studio for post production; and is compatible with new Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorder.

For more information on the new camera, see the press release below or visit Blackmagic Design’s website:

Additionally, Blackmagic Design also made two additional announcements:

 

 

Blackmagic Design Video Assist 3G
Blackmagic Design today announced UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G

 [[ press release ]]

Blackmagic Design Announces Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K

The world’s most advanced digital film camera with new Super 35 12K image sensor, new Generation 5 Color Science and new Blackmagic RAW performance!

Fremont, CA, USA – Thursday, 16 July 2020 – Blackmagic Design today announced Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K, a new digital film camera with an advanced 12,288 x 6,480 12K Super 35 image sensor, 14 stops of dynamic range and high frame rate shooting at up to 60 frames per second in 12K at 80 megapixels per frame. This new 3rd generation model supports new Blackmagic Generation 5 Color Science and higher Blackmagic RAW performance, all in the award winning URSA Mini Pro camera body.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K will be available in July 2020 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for US$9,995.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K is a revolution in digital film with a 12,288 x 6480 12K Super 35 sensor and 14 stops of dynamic range, built into the award winning URSA Mini body. The combination of 80 megapixels per frame, new color science and the flexibility of Blackmagic RAW makes working with 12K a reality. Oversampling from 12K gives customers the best 8K and 4K images with the subtle skin tones and extraordinary detail of high end still cameras. Customers can shoot at 60 fps in 12K, 110 fps in 8K and up to 220 fps in 4K Super 16. URSA Mini Pro 12K features an interchangeable PL mount, as well as built in ND filters, dual CFast and UHS-II SD card recorders, a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port and more.

URSA Mini Pro 12K’s extreme resolution goes well beyond traditional motion picture film. Customers get the benefits of shooting with film including incredible detail, wide dynamic range and rich, deep color. Perfect for feature films, episodic television and immersive, large format IMAX. The incredible definition around objects makes it ideal for working with green screen and VFX including compositing live action and CGI. Super sampling at 12K means customers not only get better color and resolution at 8K, but also a smoothness that comes from making aliasing invisible.

The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K features a revolutionary new sensor with a native resolution of 12,288 x 6480, which is an incredible 80 megapixels per frame. The Super 35 sensor has a superb 14 stops of dynamic range and a native ISO of 800. The new 12K sensor has equal amounts of red, green and blue pixels and is optimized for images at multiple resolutions. Customers can shoot 12K at 60 fps or use in-sensor scaling to allow 8K or 4K RAW at up to 110 fps without cropping or changing their field of view. URSA Mini Pro’s interchangeable lens mount lets customers choose from the widest range of vintage and modern cinema lenses, so customers can capture every ounce of character and detail from their favorite optics.

The URSA Mini Pro 12K sensor and Blackmagic RAW were designed together to make 12 bit RAW workflows in 12K effortless. As an incredibly efficient next generation codec Blackmagic RAW lets customers shoot 12K and edit on a laptop, a capability that simply isn’t possible with other codecs. The massive resolution of the sensor means you can reframe shots in post for delivery in 8K and 4K. It’s like a multi camera shoot with only one camera. And it’s perfect for great looking vertical and square video, too. The advanced design of the sensor and Blackmagic RAW means that customers can work in any resolution in post production instantly, without rendering, while retaining the full sensor’s color accuracy.

Only Blackmagic RAW makes cinema quality 12-bit, 80 megapixel images at up to 60 frames a reality. Constant quality Q0 and Q5 options and new Q1 and Q3 lock the quality level, allowing compression to adapt, matching the detail of the scene. Constant bitrate encoding options 5:1, 8:1, 12:1 and the new 18:1 are designed to give customers the best possible images with predictable and consistent file size. Customers can record RAW to two cards simultaneously so customers can shoot 12K or 8K to either CFast or UHS-II cards, even at high frame rates. Blackmagic RAW stores camera metadata, lens data, white balance, digital slate information and custom LUTs to ensure consistency of image on set and through post production.

Shooting RAW in 12K preserves the deepest control of detail, exposure and color during post. Oversampling means customers get extremely sharp 8K without harsh edges. Best of all, Blackmagic RAW is designed to accelerate 12K for post production, making it as easy to work with as standard HD or Ultra HD files. It is highly optimized, multi‑threaded, works across multiple CPU cores and is also GPU accelerated to work with Apple Metal, CUDA and OpenCL. So customers can always work with their camera RAW files without having to make proxies. Blackmagic RAW 12K images provide unprecedented resolution and quality for color, keying, compositing, reframing, stabilization and tracking in 4K or 8K.

Blackmagic Generation 5 Color Science features a new film curve designed to make full use of the massive amount of color data from the new URSA Mini Pro 12K sensor. This delivers even better color response for more pleasing skin tones, and better rendering of highly saturated colors such as neon signs and car tail lights in high contrast scenes. Generation 5 Color Science informs complex Blackmagic RAW image processing, with color and dynamic range data from the sensor preserved via metadata for use in post production. Compatible with all previously shot Blackmagic RAW files, Generation 5 Color Science lets customers take advantage of the new film curve even with their existing work.

URSA Mini Pro 12K is multiple cameras in one, shooting standard resolutions and frame rates in 4K, 8K and even insanely detailed 12K. With a massive 80 megapixels per frame at 60 fps in RAW customers can capture perfect stills and motion shots in a single camera at the same time. Customers can shoot up to 60 fps in 12K 12,288 x 6480 17:9. For higher frame rates, customers can shoot 110 fps at 8192 x 4320, 140 fps at 8192 x 3408 and even window the sensor to Super 16 to capture 4K at an incredible 220 fps at 4096 x 2160 DCI. URSA Mini Pro 12K has flexible frame rate and resolution options, and captures with improved motion rendering which means that customers get smoother edges in 8K and 4K even at lower frame rates.

URSA Mini Pro 12K is the ultimate high bandwidth recorder with 3 options for recording 12K, which contains almost 10 times the resolution of Ultra HD. Customers get dual built in CFast and UHS-II SD card recorders, and a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port for recording to fast SATA and NVMe drives. With “Record RAW on 2 Cards” turned on, URSA Mini Pro 12K can record simultaneously across two cards up to an incredible 900MB/s to 2 CFast cards, or an impressive 500MB/s to 2 UHS-II SD cards. The SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port on the rear can record to USB-C flash storage up to 900MB/s as a third recording option so customers won’t be short of choices for capturing stunning 12K up to 60p or 8K up to 110p.

Different projects require different lenses which is why URSA Mini Pro features an interchangeable lens mount. Customers can quickly switch between PL, EF and F mount lenses on the URSA Mini Pro 12K, as well as B4 lenses on the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2. That means customers can work with high quality large PL cinema lenses, EF or F mount photographic lenses, and even B4 broadcast lenses, making URSA Mini Pro compatible with the widest possible range of professional lenses.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro features an innovative high speed USB-C Expansion Port. The 4.6K G2 model features USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 which operates at up to 5 Gb/s, while the new 12K model has a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 for a blistering 10 Gb/s. Customers can connect and power external flash disks and SSDs or on URSA Mini Pro 12K customers can connect the new URSA Mini Recorder for recording to fast NVMe SSD drives for longer recording times. NVMe SSD drives are ideal for shooting 12K in the highest constant quality 12‑bit Blackmagic RAW in the Q0 setting or for high frame rates. When shooting is complete customers can simply move the external disk to their computer and start editing from the same disk, eliminating file copying.

URSA Mini Pro includes a full version of DaVinci Resolve Studio. Customers get the world’s most advanced solution that combines professional editing, color correction, audio post and visual effects all in one software tool. DaVinci Resolve is used to finish more Hollywood feature films than any other solution, so users will get the best possible post production tools to edit native video from their camera and retain every bit of quality. Whether users are working on major Hollywood feature films, episodic television, music videos, commercials or even the latest YouTube shoot, DaVinci Resolve Studio gives customers a completely lossless workflow for native editing, color correction, effects, audio and delivery

The new Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorder lets customers record 12-bit Blackmagic RAW files onto fast 2.5 inch SSDs, including the latest U.2 NVMe Enterprise SSDs. SSDs such as the latest 7mm U.2 NVMe disks are super fast, delivering data transfer speeds of up to 900 MB/s. This blazing fast performance allows customers longer recording times for full resolution 4K, 8K and 12K 12-bit Blackmagic RAW files in the highest quality Q0 encoding. The unique design of the Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorder means it attaches directly to the back of their URSA Mini Pro between the camera and the battery. It’s controlled via the USB-C so customers don’t have to worry about manually starting or stopping the SSD recorder

“With Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K we have advanced imaging technology into a new generation where new styles of shooting will be possible”, said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “Its not just the 12K sensor, but there is so many other innovations in this camera. From the Generation 5 Color Science, the in sensor scaling, new symmetrical color pattern, full RGB quality and of course the 12K resolution, it’s going to be exciting to see what DOPs do creatively with this technology!

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K Features

  • 12,288 x 6480 12K Super 35 sensor.
  • Use for feature films, VFX and high end TVC’s.
  • 14 stops of dynamic range and native 800 ISO.
  • New Blackmagic RAW for real time 12K editing.
  • Blackmagic RAW optimized for Metal, CUDA and OpenCL.
  • Generation 5 Color Science with new film curve.
  • Shoot up to 60 fps in 12K, 110 fps at 8K and 220 fps at 4K.
  • Dual card CFast recording at up to 900MB/s.
  • PL mount included, EF and F mounts available.
  • SuperSpeed USB-C for recording to external disks.
  • Includes DaVinci Resolve Studio for post production.
  • Compatible with new Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorder.

 

Availability and Price

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K will be available in July 2020 for US$9,995, excluding duties, from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide

[[ press release ]]

Blackmagic Design Announces New Blackmagic Video Assist 3G

New affordable models of Blackmagic Video Assist add large screen monitoring, better recording codecs, scopes and focus assist tools to any camera!

Fremont, CA, USA – Thursday, July 16, 2020 – Blackmagic Design today announced Blackmagic Video Assist 3G which are lower cost models versions of the company’s portable monitoring and recording solutions. These new models feature built in scopes, upgraded batteries, 3G-SDI and HDMI for all SD and HD formats, all at a more affordable price.

Blackmagic Video Assist 3G is available now from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide from US$495.

All Video Assist models are dominated by a large touchscreen with all controls for recording, playback of clips, viewing scopes and setting focus assist features. Both 7″ models are large enough to include analog inputs for audio and two SD card slots so customers get continuous recording, with automatic recording to the second card. All models include a rear tally light, a front panel speaker for clip playback and a headphone jack. Video Assist uses Sony L-Series batteries, and with 2 battery slots, customers can change batteries without interrupting recording.

With large and bright 5 and 7″ touchscreens, Video Assist makes it incredibly easy to frame shots and accurately focus. The touchscreen displays critical information while users are shooting including the timecode, transport control, audio meters and a histogram for exposure. Customers can also customize the LCD to add or remove overlays such as current filename, focus peaking, zebra, false color, frame guides, 3D LUTs and more. 3D LUTs support allows monitoring shots with the desired color and look, plus customers can even “bake in” the LUT if customers want to record it into the file

Video Assist uses commonly available SD card media, so customers can record to flash memory cards that are easy to obtain. The files are small enough to allow long recordings on standard SD cards or the faster UHS-II cards. The larger Video Assist 7″ models include 2 SD card slots so customers can swap out any full cards even during recording, allowing infinite length recording. Standard SD cards or the faster UHS-II cards are perfect for broadcast because they are small, high speed and affordable.

Blackmagic Video Assist is an ideal upgrade for cameras, as its bright display is bigger than the tiny displays found on consumer cameras, plus users are also adding professional focus assist features and better quality file formats. Video Assist is also a great solution for professional cameras because customers can use it to upgrade older broadcast cameras to modern file formats used on the latest editing software. Customers get support for all editing software as customers can record in Apple ProRes and Avid DNx. With both HDMI and SDI inputs customers can connect it to any consumer camera, broadcast camera or even DSLR cameras.

The innovative touchscreen LCD user interface provides incredible control. On screen, there are dedicated buttons for play, stop and record, plus a mini timeline for scrolling through their recordings. Customers can even swipe the image to jog. The LCD includes a heads up display of timecode, video standard, media status as well as audio meters. Scopes can be enabled via the touchscreen as well as focus and exposure assist. Plus customers can load and save 3D LUTs.

Video Assist features a wide range of video and audio connections such as multi-rate SDI for SD, HD on all models and Ultra HD on the 12G-SDI models. HDMI is included for HDMI cameras and monitoring to consumer televisions and video projectors. The 7″ model features Mini XLR inputs which are provided for audio input from microphones and external audio mixers. Video Assist even includes a 12V DC power connection and the 12G models include a locking power connector.

Video Assist records using standard open file formats so customers don’t have to waste time transcoding media. Files are compatible with all post production software so customers can work with the software of their choice, including DaVinci Resolve Studio. Recording works in industry standard 10-bit ProRes or DNx files in all formats and from all HDMI or SDI cameras, as well as 12-bit Blackmagic RAW on the 12G-SDI HDR models when connected to supported cameras. Best of all media files work on all operating systems.

Video Assist features scopes for accurate exposure on cameras and compliance to broadcast standards. That means it’s also a great portable waveform monitoring solution. The waveform display provides a traditional luminance (brightness) level view of the video inputs or the playback signal. The vectorscope allows customers to see the intensity of color at 100% SDI reference levels. Customers also get a RGB parade display which is ideal for color correction. Histogram shows the distribution of white to black detail in their images and highlights or shadows clipping. The built in scopes can even be overlaid on live video, or as a small picture in picture view at the top right of the scope.

Some cameras can output logarithmic colorspace to preserve the dynamic range, which is great for later post production, however when these files are viewed on a monitor they can look flat and washed out. 3D LUTs solve this problem because they allow customers to apply a “look” to the monitor so customers get an idea of how the finished images will look like when editing. Video Assist works with industry standard 17 and 33 point 3D LUT files, or customers can work with the built in LUTs such as Extended Video, Film to Video and more.

The advanced digital slate and metadata features make it extremely fast to add metadata to any shot. Simply swipe left or right from the edge of the screen to bring up the digital slate. Customers can even select for take numbers to be automatically incremented when customers start and stop recording, so customers don’t have to enter them manually for each shot. Customers can also set reel numbers to increment each time customers format a card. All metadata is saved with the files and available in post production with software such as DaVinci Resolve. Then let the DaVinci Resolve sync bin in the cut page find and sync all their shots automatically. Simple scroll the timeline and select shots with a click of the mouse.

The SDI and HDMI connections are multi-rate, so all models handle SD and HD television standards plus the 12G models add extra support for Ultra HD standards. Standard definition formats include NTSC and PAL. 720p HD standards include 720p50 and 59.94p. 1080i HD interlaced formats include 1080i50 and 59.94. 1080p HD formats include 1080p23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94 and 60p. Plus customers can even work in 1080 PsF formats.

Blackmagic Video Assist includes a built in professional audio recorder that’s much better quality than the audio found in most cameras, eliminating the need to carry around extra audio equipment. When working in SDI formats, customers can record 2, 4, 8 or 16 channels of audio. For connecting microphones the 7″ models have 2 XLR analog audio inputs with phantom power and high definition audio sample rates of 192 kHz at 16 and 24 bit per sample. The audio meters can even be changed between VU or PPM ballistics.

Multiple languages are fully supported so customers don’t need to learn another language to use it. Support is included for English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, German, French, Russian, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish.

The files from Blackmagic Video Assist are common and are compatible with all operating systems or in most video software. Media can be formatted using ExFAT or HFS+ so customers can easily access the media on computers and access the files like regular disks. DaVinci Resolve is perfect for using with Video Assist as it features editing, color correction, audio post production and visual effects all in one software application.

“The Blackmagic Video Assist 12G HDR monitors have been received very well by our customers because they have so many features.” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “However many customers don’t need HDR screens and Ultra HD, so we have produced new HD models that include most of the powerful features at a much lower price. Plus these new models still include built in scopes, 3D LUTS, powerful focus assist tools, presets, upgraded L-Series batteries, record tally light, built in speakers and more!”

Blackmagic Video Assist 3G Features

  • Modern design with fast to use touchscreen controls.
  • LCD features can be customized by the user.
  • SD/USH-II card support for commonly available media.
  • Upgrades cameras to better monitoring and better record codecs.
  • Large LCD screen for with digital film style focus assist tools.
  • 3G-SDI and HDMI for recording in SD and HD up to 1080p60.
  • Standard open file formats compatible with popular software.
  • Built in scopes include waveform, vector, parade and histogram.
  • 3D LUTs can be applied for both monitoring and recording.
  • Professional multi channel digital and analog audio.
  • Localized for 11 popular international languages.
  • Works with popular NLE software such as DaVinci Resolve.

Availability and Price

Blackmagic Video Assist 3G is available now from US$495, excluding duties, from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

[[ press release ]]

Blackmagic Design Announces UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3

Fremont, USA – July 16, 2020 – Blackmagic Design today announced UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G, two new capture and playback solutions featuring 3G-SDI and HDMI connections plus high speed Thunderbolt™ 3 technology. UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G are extremely portable, pocket sized products powered by their Thunderbolt connections so they can be operated from a computer’s battery or power source

UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G are available now from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for US$115.

UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G are two separate products, one for recording SDI and HDMI video, and the other model for playing back SDI or HDMI video.

The UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G are extremely tiny designs that are perfect for portable tasks that don’t require both capture and playback in a single device. Their lower cost means the customer can choose to add recording or playback when needed. A good example is when monitoring using NLE software the UltraStudio Monitor 3G would be the perfect choice. A customer who needs simple recording can choose the UltraStudio Recorder 3G.

Replacing older Thunderbolt 2 models, these new models feature Thunderbolt 3 which makes possible greater features, such as more video formats, greater selection of colorspace, RGB video formats and lower cost.

UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G feature advanced high quality video technology allowing customers to go on location for uncompressed and compressed capture and playback tasks at the highest 10 bit SD/HD quality.

With easy plug and play and incredibly fast transfer speeds of Thunderbolt technology, UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G can be moved easily between computers and can capture from decks, cameras and live video sources, and output to monitors, projectors, media servers and more. This is perfect for editing, compositing, graphics production and unlimited broadcast and post production situations where the highest quality video and true versatility are demanded.

“UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G let you work anywhere because they are extremely compact and are powered from the Thunderbolt 3 connection,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “You can simply plug into any Thunderbolt 3 enabled laptop or a desktop computer and start working. With support for high bandwidth formats up to 1080p60 these are advanced video capture and playback solutions that are small enough to fit in your pocket. There is nothing more portable!

UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G Features

  • Two models, UltraStudio Monitor 3G for playback and UltraStudio Recorder 3G for capture.
  • High-speed Thunderbolt 3 port for high quality video processing.
  • Built in 3G-SDI and HDMI connections on each model.
  • Supports all common SD/HD video formats up to 1080p60.
  • Uncompressed and compressed 10-bit 4:2:2 YUV or RGB quality.
  • Supports DaVinci Resolve and all other video software.
  • Developer SDK available to download free.

Availability and Price

UltraStudio Monitor 3G and UltraStudio Recorder 3G are available now for US$115 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

The post New Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K Captures 12K-Resolution Video appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Staying Organized, Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I described how creating project templates can help you stay organized while editing. Similar to the folder structure system I discussed awhile back, project templates can keep your content at your fingertips without the need for a search tool to find that one shot. Today, I’m going to show you how I use bins to edit efficiently.

Cuts

Cuts

You could call it the Sequences bin, but the Cuts bin is where I keep most of my sequences. Within the Cuts bin, the Current bin is for timelines that I’m working on but that haven’t been approved. If I’m working on a series of spots or shows, I’ll put finished shows in the Approved bin so that they’re out of the way.

Remember, I want to be efficient, so I want to keep the bins uncluttered. If a spot is approved, I don’t need to sift through it when I start to work on a different spot.

Since I have the habit of making copies of sequences before I make major—or sometimes even minor—changes, I need a place to put the backups. That’s what the Zold bin is for.

Note: I put a number at the front of the bin name to force the bins to sort correctly. I use Zold for any old bins. It’s a custom I’ve used for a long time, both in applications and also at the folder level. “Z” will always be last. If I used a number instead, like “5”, I’d have to change it if my bin count increased.

Footage

Footage

You might be surprised that the Footage bin looks so simple. Since projects are so different, it can be too confining to create a rigid structure here. While I’m all for staying organized, trying to force a structure here can lead to frustration. For one project, I may want to organize by day or by location. For another one, I might want to separate out the b-roll. Or perhaps it makes sense to keep the b-roll close to an interview subject.

Once I’ve started working on a project, I let this bin become what it needs to be. But as far as the template, I just have a Stock sub-bin. I want to keep stock separate because I might work with comps—watermarked low res files that are used before purchasing the high res files. This way I can track what stock has been purchased and what hasn’t.

Next time, bins that deal with graphics and audio.

Read Part 1

Read Part 3 

Read Part 4

The post Staying Organized, Part 2 appeared first on HD Video Pro.

Canon Sends Alert On EOS R5 Overheating Issues

Earlier today, Canon sent out a media alert regarding worries of overheating issues during video recording on the Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 mirrorless cameras. The statement focused more on the EOS R5, since that’s the model that can record in 8K video resolution as well as high frame rates using the width of the full-frame sensor at high bit rates.

It’s why Canon noted in the alert that this combination of features has the “potential to generate some significant heat, which will limit recording time.”

As you can read below in Canon’s full statement, the company was quick to point out why the new EOS flagship doesn’t include a fan as well as the steps that were taken avoid overheating issues, including using a “Magnesium alloy was used in the body to dissipate heat away from internal components” and an “’overheat control’ function to reduce heat generation when the camera is in standby.” The alert also includes Canon recommends, such as leaving its “overheat control” setting enabled, turning the camera off, keeping it out of the sunlight and using an external fan.

Canon also published two charts—a timing chart for video (which includes resolutions and frame rates, modes and approximate shooting times) and a recovery time chart. There’s information on the EOS R6, as well, but the alert mostly focused on the EOS R5.

Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 video recording limit timing chart

 

Canon EOS R5 recovery timing chart

Of course, for the moment, these issues are hypothetical, since the EOS R5 won’t be available until the end of this month. We’ll have to wait to see how it and the EOS R6 perform in real world scenarios to know if these potential concerns will be realized. But at least it’s good to see Canon is alerting photographers to the potential for such problems.

For more information, see the press release below:

[[ press release ]]

Canon U.S.A., Inc. Media Alert

Subject:  Details Regarding Canon EOS R5/EOS R6 Overheating During Video Recording

The EOS R5, one of the latest additions to Canon’s full-frame mirrorless camera line, offers class-leading autofocus with high-resolution and high frame rate video recording options using the maximum width of the full-frame sensor at high bit rates. Inevitably, this combination of features has potential to generate some significant heat, which will limit recording time. 

Canon has taken several steps to manage the potential for overheating, including:

  • Magnesium alloy was used in the body to dissipate heat away from internal components
  • An “overheat control” function to reduce heat generation when the camera is in standby

In regard to the installation of a fan: The decision not to install a fan within the body was made in order to maintain the EOS R5’s compact size, lightweight construction and weather resistance.

Before recording starts, the EOS R5 and EOS R6 display an estimate of the recordable time based on the current camera temperature and the set recording mode.

Canon has published and included below the approximate recording and estimated recovery times for 23°C / 73°F environments and ensure that the camera will warn users when it is getting too hot. Additionally, tips to reduce overheating as well as recovering time are listed below.

If you have any questions, please contact the Canon U.S.A. PR team at: pr@cusa.canon.com

Timing:

How can you reduce heat buildup in the EOS R5?

  • Set Overheat Control function to “ON” (default). When the overheat control function is enabled, the movie size and frame rate are automatically changed while the camera is in standby mode to suppress the rise of the internal temperature
  • Between recordings, it is recommended to turn off the camera
  • Position the camera out of direct sunlight
  • Use an external fan to dissipate heat

How long will it take for the camera to recover?

Estimated camera recovery times are indicated below. The time until full record time is available will vary with ambient temperature, continued camera operation and the selected shooting resolution.

What about the EOS R6?

Like the EOS R5, the EOS R6 offers powerful movie recording and stills capabilities within a compact body design. At the highest frame rates and resolutions heat is inevitably generated. We believe the EOS R6 offers best in class performance, especially for enthusiast photographers and video content creators.

The EOS R6 can record up to the 29 minutes 59 second recording limit in the 5.1K oversampled 4K 60p mode at (23°C / 73°F) before encountering any heat related issues within the camera and up to 40 minutes of 4K at 30p.

For more information, please visit:

https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/products/details/cameras/eos-dslr-and-mirrorless-cameras/mirrorless/eos-r5

and https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/products/details/cameras/eos-dslr-and-mirrorless-cameras/mirrorless/eos-r6

The post Canon Sends Alert On EOS R5 Overheating Issues appeared first on HD Video Pro.

The Search For Affordable Protective Cases

These were/are Anvil ATA cases. They were big, heavy and expensive; made of plywood, steel and aluminum; and protected large, heavy gear exceedingly well.

I’ve had quite a history with flight cases for my gear over the years. Back in the day, when I was flying around the country with a lot of production gear, large crews and big budgets, it was all about ATA Certified Anvil and molded flight cases. These cases were big, heavy and expensive, but they were built to withstand the rigors of air travel and being thrown into baggage holds of airliners. They did their job very well but at the cost of weight. If you have the crew to help you transport gear, though, weight ceases to be a huge factor in your case decision.

Pelican Protector 1605 Air Case
As gear began to be smaller, lighter and more fragile, we switched to Pelican cases like this Pelican Protector 1605 Air Case. Cases like this were lighter than the Anvil cases but still cost similar amounts of money for the same interior space.

When Things Went Plastic

As budgets began to shrink, crews became smaller and the gear itself became lighter and less expensive, we reached a point where using ATA flight cases became more of a detriment than a benefit. Many of our ATA cases were Anvil cases and had wheels because they were too bulky and heavy to carry by hand. It was around this time that I discovered Pelican equipment cases. Pelican cases were much lighter than Anvil and molded ATA cases, yet still rugged. As a potential bonus, Pelican cases were waterproof and pressure equalized as well.

The lids had a rubber gasket and each case had a threaded purge vent that allowed you to equalize the pressure in the case so that when the case was taken to altitude, the lid wouldn’t become stuck. If you allowed in the nominal amount of air into the case at sea level and then closed the valve, the case would either float in water or at least be neutrally buoyant.

Pelican cases had several options for how you wanted to have the interior of the case laid out, from flexible, padded divider sections to pick and pluck foam, to harder foam that could be purchased and custom cut to fit any piece of gear. Pelican cases gained and still have a reputation as being very protective for our delicate film, video and sound gear and are solidly built. There were a few alternative brands to Pelican, but none of them seemed to dominate the market for video, film and broadcast gear in the same way that Pelican did. I still have a few Pelican cases and even though they’re scuffed and a bit dirty after more than a decade of hard use and being flown all over the world, they still get the job done. Those things said, Pelican cases tend to still be quite heavy in comparison to other alternatives and they’re not inexpensive.

We recently went hunting for a few affordable protective cases for some new pieces of gear for our live streaming business. We recently acquired the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro. To go with the ATEM, we acquired a new 22-inch Dell computer monitor. We also recently added two more Fujifilm X-T3 mirrorless cameras to our existing X-T3, so we now have a total of three cameras. We bought small, individual soft bags for each of the X-T3 cameras, but after using them for a while, we found that we always end up throwing the small individual bags into a larger bag or case for transport. Then, we end up having to unpack the cameras from their collective large case or bag and individually uncase each camera from its own bag. The whole process seemed a bit redundant and was simply adding time to the whole process that we didn’t need to waste.

Pelican Protector 1500
We took a look at the Pelican Protector 1500, a medium-sized case that would be the right size to transport our three mirrorless cameras and accessories.

Discovering A Bargain

After reviewing the latest offerings in molded plastic cases, I discovered that that Pelican now seems to offer at least two lines of cases that I was considering. They have the newer, lower-cost Vault line of cases—the V100, 200, 300 and so forth—and they still have their Protector series of cases as well. It was hard to divine the precise differences between the two lines, save for that the Vault line doesn’t look as rugged, heavyweight and beefy as the Protector series, and certain models of the Protector series are offered with wheels for running through airports or chasing down taxi cabs. I took a look at two affordable protective cases:

Pelican Case V300 
Interior dimensions: 17.5×14.2×7.1 inches
Weight: 6.69 pounds
Cost $79

Pelican Case 1500 
Interior dimensions: 16.8×11.2×6.1 inches
Weight 7.1 pounds
Cost: $149

Pelican Vault V300
The Pelican Vault V300 is similar in size and weight to the 1500 case but sells for almost half the cost. The Vault series is Pelican’s more economical offering for those who don’t need the absolute most rugged case, I think?

Either of these cases would work for my intended purpose of safely transporting three Fujifilm X-T3s, three AC power supplies and 10-inch USB C cables, three Swiss Arca tripod plates and a Fringer Pro EF to X-Mount adapter, all while still leaving some room for other small camera accessories. After researching these cases, I recalled that a friend had told me about some affordable protective cases that Harbor Freight was selling that were surprisingly good for the money. I took a trip over to my local Harbor Freight store with my tape measure to check on the specs of their cases. I also wanted to look at their build quality. Harbor Freight carries a lot of different gear and tools. I’ve bought several items from them over the years and the quality has ranged far and wide.

Apache 4800
The Apache 4800 case competes with the Pelicans at a significantly reduced cost, but ironically, at a significantly heavier weight. In my mind, the heavier weight implies that the 4800 offers even greater protection than the Pelicans, but I haven’t failure-tested any of these cases by throwing them off of a building.

The Harbor Freight Apache Case

As I explored my local Harbor Freight store, I came across the area where the cases were displayed. Upon taking a look, the Apache 4800 stood out as a good candidate for the use I wanted to consider it for. The build quality seemed very good and extremely heavy duty.

Apache 4800
Interior dimensions: 17.7×12.8×6.18 inch
Weight: 9.75 pounds
Cost” $54

Apache 4800
This image gives you a good idea of the relative size and scale when you see it packed with a DSLR and some larger lenses.

I decided that the Apache case seemed to be built with a quality that was somewhere between the Pelican Vault line and the Protector product but at a cost that was significantly lower than the equivalent Pelican product, so I bought the 4800. I also looked around and ended up purchasing the smaller Apache 2800 as well so I’d have a good, affordable protectivee case to store and transport the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro, its power supply and a few cables. The 2800 case costs $27 and is built to the same exact standards and build quality as its larger 3800 and 4800 siblings.

Harbor Freight Apache 4800
The Harbor Freight Apache 4800 case packed with our three Fujifilm X-T3 mirrorless bodies and AC Power supplies and accessories. The pick and pluck foam makes sizing quick and easy.

In Use 

So far, I’ve used the 4800 and 2800 cases to haul our live streaming gear to two shoots. They seem to provide really rugged, shockproof protection. Both cases have the purge valve like the Pelican cases have, which makes easy work of opening the cases when they’re transported to a higher elevation than they were closed at. The cases are definitely splash proof and waterproof and provide excellent isolation and protection. I still think the Pelican cases are a great product and will consider them for future purchases.

In the era of quarantine and reduced work and corresponding pay, I’ve been looking for bargains, and so far, there seems to be very little downside of these more affordable protective cases. I’ll report back if, after some considerable usage, the Apache cases show significant wear or cracks, failure of the hinges or latches. So far, though, they seem to be a very good value. If you’re in the U.S., consider checking out your local Harbor Freight store to pick these cases up for your valuable gear. I’m hunting for a case for our Dell HDMI monitor and stand, and the largest Apache case isn’t wide enough, so I may end up purchasing a Pelican Vault series for it. The challenge is, the Dell monitor was on closeout and only cost $169, so buying a $200 case for it seems counterintuitive. The search will continue for the right case at the right price.

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