Many users are looking for the ideal high quality, light and affordable tripod package for their mirrorless camera, like this Fujifilm XT-3.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been searching for a certain tripod package for a long time. Since the beginning of the DSLR revolution, I’ve been on the lookout for a smaller, lighter-weight but still smooth, fluid tripod head to go with my DSLRs or my mirrorless camera package.
Even when paired with some larger Canon lenses, the standard package still only tips the scales at around 3 to 5 pounds when shooting with the Fujifilm XT-3, one of the smallest and lightest-weight on the market.
Mounting it on our huge, heavy Sachtler/Miller in-house tripod combo isn’t always a good match, as the Sachtler/Miller package negates the benefits of our small-sized, lightweight XT-3.
The tripod we’ve been looking for would need most of the following:
In reviewing some new products that were shown at NAB 2019, I came across a press release for a new two-way fluid head that Italian manufacturer Gitzo was introducing to the market.
The Gitzo brand has always been well regarded by still photographers but not very well-known by video or digital-cinema shooters because they primarily make still ballheads that just aren’t well suited to video shooting.
I looked up some of the specifications of the GHF2W head, and they intrigued me:
If you aren’t familiar with what a Swiss Arca plate is, I recommend you acquaint yourself with this type of plate. Here’s why: Unlike still shooters, many video users mount our cameras on a variety of different devices each shoot.
For instance, with our Fujifilm XT-3, we use the camera on tripod, gimbal, slider and in a cage for a handheld rig. Each of these devices commonly comes with its own proprietary tripod plate. When switching the camera back and forth between devices, you may find yourself trying to hurry, laboriously switching out tripod plates to switch between devices to mount your camera on.
A few years ago, we switched all of our small gear, like DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, over to Swiss Arca tripod plates, simply to ensure universal fit on all of our devices. The good news is that the Gitzo GHFW2 head comes standard with its own rather wide Arca plate, but the tripod head will accept any Swiss Arca plate.
For all of our proprietary tripod heads and devices, it’s a simple matter to affix a Swiss Arca receiver to each, making it quick and easy to mount our Fujifilm XT-3 onto almost anything.
As far as the load capacity, 8.8 pounds sounded like plenty of capacity for our XT-3 with most of our lenses, other than perhaps our Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II, which itself weighs 3.3 pounds. More on this later, but in my experience with gimbals and tripods, always take weight ratings with a v grain of salt. Few devices function at their best when they’re even remotely near their maximum weight capacity.
The Gitzo GHFW2 heads weigh 1.3 pounds, which sounded promising. I decided to ask Gitzo if it could set me up with a review copy of the new head and an appropriate set of CF legs for a long-term review, where I wouldn’t just review the package but actually put it to work on some client projects and real-world testing.
Gitzo sent me a GHFW2 head, along with a set of its GT2543L carbon-fiber tripod legs. I unpacked the head and legs, and immediately began playing with the controls and was struck by several first impressions: First, the build quality on both head and legs is excellent. Interestingly, the included Swiss Arca plate is larger and wider than the ones that I already had my camera set up with. The specs on the actual mounting part of the plate were standard, but overall, the Gitzo Swiss Arca plate had some overhang that could prove handy on some larger camera bodies.
Also, the Gitzo plate has a small, curved lever on the tie-down knob, allowing you to tighten and loosen the knob without tools, which can be handy in certain situations. The tripod handle affixes to the head using a standard, conically shaped, threaded tie-down knob, allowing you to determine the angle the handle connects to the head quickly.
One feature I really liked was that the Gitzo GHFW2 has both the pan-rotation and tilt-resistance knobs clustered together, the larger inner ring allowing you to set tilt resistance, the smaller outer ring allowing you to adjust panning resistance.
On our other tripod heads, these two knobs are typically placed in two different locations on the head, making adjusting one or the other less convenient since your hand needs to dart from one tie-down knob to the other.
The Gitzo arrangement shows that the designers were thinking of ways to streamline the operating process for camera ops—a nice touch.
One feature the Gitzo head lacked was a flat-base head, meaning that the only way to adjust leveling the head and camera is to individually adjust the height of each tripod leg until the head and camera are level.
To be fair, I’m not singling out the Gitzo on this; almost all sub-$1,000 tripod heads are flat base, too, but coming from decades of shooting with both 75mm and 100mm video ball heads where adjusting level takes just a couple of seconds, to go back to having to adjust the legs to level just feels backward.
Gitzo has also included a fluid counterbalance control on the GHFW2 head. This allows you to balance your camera and lens on the head even when the center of gravity is off-center, as it often will be depending on the size and length of the lens you have mounted to your camera. Basically, the counterbalance control allows you to perform smoother tilts.
Gitzo specifies that the counterbalance will balance on off-center loads of up to 5.5 pounds. There’s a catch to weight ratings, though: The head is rated to hold up to an 8.8-pound load but will only counterbalance to 5.5 pounds.
I found that in real-world shooting, my XT-3 with smaller and lighter lenses like my FUJINON XF 18-55mmF2.8-4.0 OIS, the counterbalance helped smooth out shots and made it so that if I left the tilt lock loose, the camera wouldn’t tip forward or backward on its own just from the weight.
However, conversely, if I mounted larger, heavier lenses, like my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 IS II or my EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II, they’d fall forward or backward if I neglected to tighten down the tilt tension.
Once again, my expectations here have been possibly clouded by decades of using heads like our Sachtler that allow up to 10 manually selected levels of spring counterbalance. Of course, our Sachtler head cost many times more than the Gitzo, but it would be nice if Gitzo had engineered in two or three counterbalance levels.
The counterbalance on the Gitzo head is fixed; you cannot lighten it or make it heavier than the preset. Depending on the total weight load you intend to use, the counterbalance could be effective and helpful, as I found it with the XT-3 body and the kit lens, but I wouldn’t encourage using long, large and heavy lenses on this head. Regardless of the total package weight, the head performs much better with a mirrorless camera with smaller and shorter-length lenses.
Overall, I found the motion characteristics of the head to be fairly smooth as long as I was well under its weight limits. I liked that the head features a counterbalance scale as well as a rotational scale for when you’re panning. These allow you to observe starting and stopping points when panning and tilting and trying to create repeatable moves.
Another feature I liked was that the entire Gitzo head and all of the metal fittings on the tripod are covered in Gitzo’s speckled “leopard-like” finish, which is covered with a nice, clear coat that makes handling the head and center column height adjustment easy, even when wet or when your hands are cold.
All edges have been cast and machined to be smooth. There are no sharp edges to cut you when adjusting the head.
I had a chance to use the Gitzo head and tripod in several client shoots, all in varying conditions, including covering a runner competing in a 100-mile ultramarathon through the Florida Keys, and the tripod and head performed admirably in the rain, the searing heat and wind the same day (it was Florida, after all!).
I also used the combo on a shoot gathering b-roll all day around a couple of southern California cities using various size and focal-length lenses.
Lastly, we used the combo on three different shoots at beaches, covering boat racing, where I often had the tripod legs buried in the sand and around saltwater all day each shoot. The Gitzo head and legs performed well in all of these situations, and the sand and salt washed off both the legs and head easily.
Besides being made of high-quality carbon fiber for weight savings and rigidity, the Gitzo GT2543L tripod also had nicely designed three-way leg locks, allowing you to position your camera lower to the ground quickly, but the center column of the tripod precluded being able to position the camera lower than about 18 inches off the ground.
The center column post has a metal hook at the bottom, allowing you to place your backpack or a sandbag as a stabilizing weight on the tripod.
Also worth mentioning are the Gitzo G-Lock legs, allowing you to rotate the lockdown collar just a fraction of an inch to extend or lock the legs, which saves time.
The Gitzo GHF2W head and GT2543L carbon legs met the criteria we set for our ideal mirrorless tripod in specs. The head is easily detachable and light, the legs have a 24-inch folded length, extending all of the way to 70.3 inches so it will easily fit in our luggage for traveling. The combo does have a true fluid head with counterbalance, although I wish it had some variable counterbalance settings.
The combo is capable of smooth pans and tilts, but only if your camera package is under the 5.5 pounds counterbalance rating. If you are over it but under the total head-weight limit of 8.8 pounds, it’s more difficult to obtain smooth pans and tilts.
The combo came in at just under our $1,200 budget, with a street price of $1,190. If you are looking for a solid tripod package and you have similar criteria, I would definitely consider the Gitzo GHF2W head and GT2543L legs as long as your total rig weight is under 5.5 pounds and your rig is well balanced.
The post Review: Gitzo GHF2W Head And GT2543L Carbon Fiber Legs appeared first on HD Video Pro.
Previously, I wrote about what can happen when someone asks for proxies without talking about what they’d be used for.
In my example, the proxies were to be used by a transcription service. The issue was file size. With all the uploading and downloading, very small files would have been helpful instead of the 1920×1080 mp4s provided.
However, there’s another issue to consider: timestamps. Transcripts usually have a timestamp at the start of a bite, change of thought or change of speakers. The times come from a counter that is started at the beginning of the file.
Transcripts that have timestamps that start at 0:00 can’t really match up with the original footage unless it also starts at timecode 00:00:00:00. If you’re working on only one clip, this might not be an issue. If you have several hours or days of interviews, it can be a real issue.
Although you could try to modify the timecode of the original clip so that it starts at 00:00:00:00, that can get messy as you move through the post-production workflow. It’s better if you try to keep all the metadata unchanged.
There are also ways to enter timecode at the transcription service. But if you have multiple clips, that’s a lot of work. An easier option is to use a transcription service that can sync transcripts to the timecode of the clip instead of just starting at 0:00.
In other words, the transcript of the start of a sound bite will use the actual footage timecode, like 13:25:14:00, as opposed to simply 0:00. That way you can easily track bites within your footage. Some editing applications even allow you to attach the transcripts to the clips in your bin.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? It is, if that’s what actually happens. But if you merely send “a proxy”—a generic, one-size-fits-all proxy—to the transcription service, there’s a good chance it won’t work. It won’t have timecode. Why? If the proxy maker created a typical mp4, it won’t have timecode.
Note: There is a way to get timecode into mp4s, but it’s not easy. Even then, it might not be supported by the transcription service.
But, if the proxies that are created are QuickTime movies (.mov), there’s a timecode track in the file that can be used. The QuickTime movies can even use the h.264 codec (like you would for an mp4) to reduce the file size.
By sending a QuickTime movie that has the timecode of the original footage embedded in it, you’ll be able to get transcripts with all the bites timestamped properly. No need to add a timestamp offset—it just happens.
All of the above is just another reason for people to ask a few questions when someone “needs proxies.” But what about proxies for actual editing? Next time.
Nikon’s new NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct lens
Today, Nikon has introduced a unique, powerful and pricey prime lens: The new NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct lens, which will run photographers and filmmakers $7999 and will be available October 31, 2019.
According to the company, the new prime “is a one-of-a-kind lens that pays homage to the extraordinary optical legacy of the previous Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2 lens.” Nikon also says that the previous prime, introduced in 1977, was renowned for “its ability to reproduce point light sources as point images.” The design of the new Z-series Noct lens “evolves with the most advanced optical technology for photographers and videographers, boasting an immense f/0.95 maximum aperture, staggering low light ability and enticing bokeh characteristics.” With such an exceptionally wide aperture of f/0.95, photographers and filmmakers should be able to produce rather unique images and video footage with very shallow depth-of-field.
The new 58mm f/0.95 is constructed with 17 elements in 10 groups, which Nikon claims ensure “a well-balanced lens that delivers incredibly sharp results.”
The new lens will also feature various coatings to minimize lens flair: its ARNEO coat “provides anti-reflection performance to combat incident light reaching the lens surface from a vertical direction….alongside the Nano Crystal Coat, which effectively reduces incident light from a diagonal direction. ”
Also, today, Nikon announced the new MB-N10 battery power pack, which is an optional accessory for both the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6, for $199 and will be available in November. The new battery pack enhances battery life and “adds an additional hand hold, providing photographers and videographers even more freedom and comfort when using the Z 7 and Z 6.”
For more information, see the press release below.
[[ press release ]]
A COVETED CLASSIC REBORN AS A MODERN MASTERPIECE:
NIKON RELEASES THE FASTEST NIKKOR LENS EVER CREATED, THE NIKKOR Z 58MM f/0.95 S NOCT
Nikon Also Announces the New MB-N10 Battery Pack: Enhances Battery Life and Adds Additional Grip for Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 Users
MELVILLE, NY (October 10, 2019 at 12:01 AM EDT) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the fastest NIKKOR lens ever made, the new NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct lens. The 58mm Noct is a one-of-a-kind lens that pays homage to the extraordinary optical legacy that the previous Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2 lens established, while demonstrating the superiority and potential of the Nikon Z Mount. Created for the most discerning photographers, the new Noct lens is an exclusively manual focus prime lens with an incredible maximum aperture of f/0.95 for a truly dramatic depth of field and next-level low light performance.
The NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct is in a class of its own, offering low light ability and extreme sharpness that excels in the hands of a capable creator. From stunning portraits to landscapes or astrophotography, all images are rendered beautifully thanks to its vast depth-of field control, seductive bokeh and superb point-image reproduction.
“This is why the Z mount was created. The Noct is a testament to Nikon’s commitment to optical innovation driven by more than a century of expertise,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. “We promised a new dimension of optical performance for the Nikon Z series and NIKKOR Z lens lineup, and by announcing our fastest NIKKOR lens ever made, the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct, we are making this claim a reality.”
THE NEWEST ADDITION TO S-LINE OF NIKKOR Z LENSES
The NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct joins as the apex to the ever-expanding series of S-Line lenses, which also includes the recently announced NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S and NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S, all hailed for their sharpness and optical performance.
A LEGENDARY LENS REBORN
The original Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2 was released in 1977, its name said to be derived from “Nocturne.” Made for nighttime photography, this lens became renowned for its ability to reproduce point light sources as point images. The design of the new Noct lens evolves with the most advanced optical technology for photographers and videographers, boasting an immense f/0.95 maximum aperture, staggering low light ability and enticing bokeh characteristics.
The NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct implores an extensive depth of field, producing elaborate bokeh and blur characteristics with good continuity for more compelling, three-dimensional imaging. Even when the distance between the subject and the background are insufficient, the new 58mm Noct lens can still capture sharp images with beautiful background blur due to the reproduction of an extremely sharp focus plane and vast shallow depth of field. Additionally, shooting point light sources at maximum aperture would normally produce sagittal coma flare. However, with the new Noct lens the causes of sagittal coma flare are eliminated across the entire frame with point light sources being reproduced as tack-sharp point images even at the peripheries, for clear and crisp night landscapes and astronomical shots.
A lens like the new NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct is possible today because of the large Z mount, which allows for more light capture and faster data sharing between lens and camera, as well as improved flexibility for lens optics and design. The new Noct lens also boasts a large-diameter ground aspherical lens element crafted from the finest glass with outstanding surface accuracy, providing a higher refractive index that would otherwise be unobtainable. This pro-level lens is constructed with an optical formula consisting of 17 elements in 10 groups, ensuring a well-balanced lens that delivers incredibly sharp results.
Like the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens announced earlier this year, the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct lens includes an ARNEO Coat, which provides anti-reflection performance to combat incident light reaching the lens surface from a vertical direction. Alongside the Nano Crystal Coat, which effectively reduces incident light from a diagonal direction, the new Noct lens can capture clear and sharp content with minimal ghosting and flare effects across a wide variety of backlit situations that are normally challenging. Additionally, the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct includes a lens information panel allowing photographers and videographers to confirm aperture, focus distance and depth of field at a glance. Users will also enjoy the increased number of functions that can be assigned to the lens Fn button, matching the Fn1/Fn2 buttons on both the Z 7 and Z 6 cameras. Additionally, an electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism is incorporated, providing stable aperture control even during continuous shooting. The fluorine coat of the new Noct lens acts as a dust, dirt and moisture repellent coating.
In addition to the refined and durable exterior design, the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct offers excellent operability and a feeling of precision in hand. The focus ring enables accurate manual focusing, allowing for the appropriate amount of torque and a large rotation angle, even for the extremely shallow depth of field afforded at f/0.95. The new Noct lens also adopts a control ring, where functions like aperture setting, and exposure compensation can be assigned. Furthermore, the inside of the lens hood is felt-lined, delivering clear rendering by effectively preventing light reflection inside the hood.
THE NEW MB-N10 BATTERY PACK FOR THE NIKON Z 7 AND Z 6
The new MB-N10 battery power pack is an optional accessory for both the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6. The battery pack significantly enhances battery life and adds an additional hand hold, providing photographers and videographers even more freedom and comfort when using the Z 7 and Z 6. The battery pack is designed to hold two EN-EL15b batteries (sold separately), effectively increasing the number of shots possible and movie recording time by approximately 1.8X, based on CIPA standards. The MB-N10 offers the same weather sealing and modern design of the Z 7 and Z 6, plus it will support USB charging.
Price and Availability
The NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct lens will be available October 31, 2019 at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $7999.95* and will come with a special premium custom padded case (Trunk Case CT-101), in addition to the HN-38 Hood. The new MB-N10 battery power pack will be available in November 2019, for an SRP of $199.95*. For more information on the latest Nikon products, including the new NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct lens and MB-N10 battery power pack as well as the full Nikon Z mount system, please visit www.nikonusa.com.
*SRP (Suggested Retail Price) listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.
Specifications, equipment and release dates are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.
All Nikon products include Nikon Inc. limited warranty. Images are for illustrative purposes only. All Nikon trademarks are trademarks of Nikon Corporation. Nikon Authorized Dealers set their own selling prices, which may vary. Nikon is not responsible for typographical errors.
The post Nikon Announces Unique NIKKOR Z 58mm F/0.95 S Noct Lens And Battery Pack appeared first on HD Video Pro.
I’ve recently written about proxies and how at times they’re treated like a one-size-fits-all panacea. As capture resolutions keep increasing, file sizes grow, too. Proxies become a way to tackle the enormous amount of data that has to wend its way through the post-production workflow.
But simply asking to “create proxies” without care oftentimes ends up making more work or the proxies provided aren’t used and end up in the virtual trash can. When I say “without care,” I mean not providing enough information. Such as “Why?”
I’m not trying to be flippant here. If you ask for proxies, a valid way for the person creating them to make sure the proxies are useful is to ask you, “Why do you want them—what will they be used for?”
For example, let’s say that you need interview transcripts created and you ask for proxies. If the person creating them never asked you what you’d use them for, they might pick a preset that they use for proxies. So they render out a bunch of mp4s and send you a link to download them. No need to put them on a drive because they’re proxies, not original footage, and they’ve been compressed.
But you’re on the road and the WiFi isn’t great, so it takes a long time to download. Then you have to look at them to make sure you have all the right clips, including the last day’s reshoot because the audio wasn’t great.
Now you want to upload them to the service that creates the transcripts. As usual, the upload speed is even worse than the download was. As you watch the progress bar during the upload, it dawns on you that while the proxies are compressed, they’re also 1920×1080. You ask yourself if you really need to send HD movies to a transcription service. Do they even look at the video? And if they do, wouldn’t a 320×180 size file have worked just as well?
Maybe if a more detailed conversation happened before the proxies were created, you wouldn’t have had to wait so long on uploads and downloads.
But file size isn’t the only problem in this situation. File type should also be a concern. I’ll talk about that next time.
The freight elevator of doom that totally messed up the sound on our shoot.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to ensure that I’m always able to capture the best sound possible on projects that I’m producing for clients as well as when shooting on my own projects.
But the term “best sound” is a multi-purpose term that, when you break it down, can mean several different things to different users and stakeholders on a project. To me, as a producer, videographer, cinematographer or sound mixer, it means that sound is the single most important component of most video/digital cinema projects. Period. And often “best sound” means that I also need to ask myself if I’ve done everything in my power to ensure this.
Recording good sound generally encompasses a number of factors:
But before I dive into gear redundancy, let me tell you about a recent shoot I worked on.
I met with two producers who were shooting a pitch piece for Netflix for a docu-series. It was an interesting subject, and the clients needed to shoot interviews with various stand-up comics. One of the comics was also a producer on the project, and her interview needed to be the through-line, tying the entire story together, so she needed to shoot about three or four hours of in-depth interviews in a single day.
Being in development, the project had very little budget to work with, which meant that I couldn’t hire a professional sound mixer, which, of course, is my preference for most shoots. That meant I had to not only light and shoot the interview (with two cameras) by myself, but I was also responsible for sound.
Because this was a docu-series, we all knew how important the audio was for this interview as it would be the narration track for a lot of the episodes. Also, the clients didn’t want to record it in a VO booth, and they wanted a nice-looking interview to cut back to periodically.
As is typical with these types of projects, the logistics were all very last minute.
We talked about a location and looked at lots of online images. I had hoped to do a location scout with the producers to determine the locations they were considering, and I didn’t even mind not being paid for the scout day, in this case. In other words, I was willing to do it for free since one of the other producers was actually a friend who I worked with for several years at a production company, so we had a strong, already-established working relationship. And I wanted to help her and her co-producers out to get this project shot.
They booked a location in a loft in downtown Los Angeles. They sent me cell phone images of the location, which looked great for the look we were going for: An old loft, wood floors, brick wall, huge windows overlooking parts of downtown L.A.
I knew that I could make the location work visually, but I asked them about sound. A lot of old lofts in L.A. and NYC look great on camera but aren’t very quiet with traffic sound, air flight paths and other factors that conspire to compromise sound.
They reported that when they took a look at the loft space, it seemed to be fairly quiet, and they thought it would work. None of these lofts are sound stages, which are built as a room within a room, isolating sound elements. But at times, you can get away with shooting on location and recording decent sound.
I had really wanted to do a proper location scout to check out power, angle to the sun, listen to the room, etc., but unfortunately, that never happened. The shoot date was booked, and we proceeded. I arrived at the location and hauled all of our gear into the building’s loading dock.
As we rode the elevator up to the third floor of the building, the door opened and we began unloading all of my production gear into the hallway. The building supervisor walked over to the door of the loft, which was located just about 10 feet from the elevator.
As we unloaded, I was thinking that our loft seemed to be uncomfortably close to the elevator. Keep in mind: This was a freight elevator in a very old building. The kind with a roll-up door. The elevator was essentially a 12×16-foot steel cage.
As we piled the gear into the loft and I began setting it up, I was intently listening to the environment. I knew the location had wood floors, which all DPs love the look of, but sound mixers know that plaster walls paired with glass windows and wooden floors will usually equal a highly reverberant background with lots of nasty slap back and a harsh quality for voices.
I knew that the location would have all of this, and my plan B for mitigating some of this harsh sound was to spread out furniture pads on the wooden floor underneath where talent would be seated for their interviews.
I had brought a few spare furniture pads and C-stands so that if it was required, I could also set up a few gobos to flank the left and/or right sides of the frame by placing the furniture pads and C-stands just outside of frame.
Once I was all set up, I had shown the client and the other two producers on set the image on the client monitor, and they had signed off on the look and framing that I had created. We began the interview, and the first hour had gone well. We had to pause a few times for planes and helicopters to fly over, but, overall, the sound had been acceptable, and the interview was flowing.
As we took a brief break for me to switch CFast cards for camera, we began to shoot again. All of a sudden, we heard a LOUD boom. We had no idea what had caused the sound, but we assumed it was construction or someone in our building unloading something. We continued to roll. Boom! More loud noises.
I paused the interview and walked to the door of the loft. As I opened the door, I looked straight down the hallway that was across from the door. When we had unloaded from the elevator earlier that morning, there was a pair of metal double doors across from our loft that had been closed. They were now open. I walked out into the hallway and peered into the open doorway.
The room contained a full garment-manufacturing operation, with dozens of employees, rolling clothing hung on large racks. The sounds I had been hearing were the employees loading huge racks and bins of clothing and fabric into the freight elevator. The sounds weren’t constant but were randomly occurring about every three to eight minutes, continually interrupting our interview.
We paused dozens of times, trying to record interview reply after reply, sometimes capturing a whole paragraph in between all of the booming and crashing. We complained to the facility manager, but he told us that there was nothing he could do to mitigate the sounds.
It’s important to always, always, always do a location scout. While I hadn’t been there, the producers “took a look” but obviously hadn’t grilled the facility manager on what was actually going on outside of the location’s doors (a garment manufacturing plant and elevator shaft).
Also know that even when you have a plan B for known factors like the wooden floors and a reverberant location with hard surfaces, your plan B won’t do anything for mitigating factors beyond your control.
The most common issue in Los Angeles is air traffic: There are airports, large and small, everywhere in Southern California. In Manhattan, it’s more street traffic and sirens. In your location, it could be anything, but you need to be persistent and look, listen and do research.
Ask a LOT of questions to the location manager. Tell them that the microphones you’ll be using are sensitive and pick up everything, because they do. Also ask them what sound pollution could happen that could spoil the ability to record clean, clear sound.
So, my story of a recent shoot that turned into an audio disaster is obviously a cautionary tale. But what about gear? What do I carry in my audio kit as my plan B?
My two main boom mics are a short shotgun microphone—Audio-Technica AT875R—and a hypercardioid—the Audix SCX1 HC. While the hypercardioid usually works better for interiors and the short shotgun for exteriors, if either microphone stops functioning, each can pinch-hit for the other in most scenarios.
My main wired lavalier microphone over the past few years has been the tiny Countryman B6. It’s the smallest lavalier on the market, and it sounds great. But if it stops working—say the talent accidentally rips the microphone element off the cable or somehow the B6 malfunctions—I always bring at least one of our Tram TR50B lavaliers as a backup. The Tram is larger and bulkier and a bit more challenging to hide on talent than the Countryman, but it sounds good, and it’s very reliable.
We own one wireless lavalier, a Røde Video Wireless System. But as a backup, we also own three Tascam DR-10L recorders. The Tascams aren’t wireless like the Røde, but in a pinch, they can be placed on talent like a wireless lav and will record high-quality audio.
Our favorite headphones are a pair of industry-standard Sony MDR-7506s, which we’ve used forever. They sound good, are rugged and fold up small.
But in case those headphones ever stop working on a shoot, we also carry a pair of black Skullcandy in-ear earbuds that sound surprisingly good and are tiny and inexpensive.
It’s difficult to have enough financial resources to own two of everything in your kit but try to at least have backups for the items that are most likely to break or malfunction. We only have one boom pole microphone mount; we should probably buy a spare in case ours breaks. We have piles of spare high-quality XLR cables and dozens of Lithium-Ion batteries for all of our battery driven audio gear.
Have a plan B for your audio gear. Always. Keep the back items in your car trunk if you’ve driven to the shoot. Keep it in your sound case or bag if you’ve flown to your shoot.
Recording good sound is so incredibly important to the success of your project, it makes sense to make sure that you’re prepared for contingencies should your gear malfunction.
Earlier today, Sony announced an updated version of its flagship full-frame a-series mirrorless camera: The new a7 II still comes with the same 24-megapixel full-frame stacked mirrorless sensor and the same 20 frames-per-second (with AF and AE) burst mode using the electronic shutter. But Sony has increased speed and performance in other ways. For instance, the a7 II can now capture more frames per second, 10 fps, using the mechanical shutter. Sony also updated and enhanced its tracking features. There are pragmatic tweaks as well—it includes the new larger grip found on the a7R IV.
Sony also provided a number of wireless improvements: The a9 II now has a new robust ethernet port, which Sony says is ten times faster than the one found on the a9. It also supports 5GHz wireless LAN support.
The new Sony a9 II will be available in November for around $4,500. Currently, the a9 is available for around $3,500.
For more information, see the press release below.
[[ press release ]]
Sony Electronics Introduces the Alpha 9 II with Enhanced Connectivity and Workflow for Professional Sports Photographers and Photojournalists
New Alpha 9 II Combines Alpha 9’s Unrivaled Speed with New Functionality to Match the Needs of Professionals
SAN DIEGO — October 3, 2019 — Sony Electronics today announced Alpha 9 II (model ILCE-9M2). The latest model from Sony’s acclaimed line-up of α (Alpha) full-frame interchangeable lens cameras, the new model has been created to support working professionals in the fields of sports photography and photojournalism.
The new Alpha 9 II builds on the impressive legacy of the original Alpha 9, maintaining groundbreaking speed performance, including blackout-free continuous shooting[i] at up to 20 frames per second[ii] with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking at 60 calculations per second[iii]. Updates include significantly enhanced connectivity and file delivery, continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with mechanical shutter, and evolved AF performance with newly optimized algorithms, re-designed build to enhance durability and operability.
“The voice of our customers is absolutely critical to Sony – we are always listening,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “The Alpha 9 II is the direct result of our work with agency, sports and news photographers since the launch of the original Alpha 9. We have added connectivity and network capabilities that drastically improve the professional workflow, while also making enhancements to design, interface and processing power that complete the user experience. Complemented by our extremely versatile E-mount system – with 55 native lenses introduced at this point including super-telephoto 600mm and 400mm G Master series lenses – this new camera is a tool unlike any other for professionals, whether in the field or on the field.”
Raising the Bar for Built-in Connectivity in the Professional’s Workflow
The Alpha 9 II includes a built-in 1000BASE-T Ethernet terminal, enabling gigabit communication for high-speed, stable data transfer operations. Additionally, File Transfer over SSL or TLS encryption (FTPS) is supported for increased data security and PC remote (tether) shooting performance is improved, with decreased release time lag and reduced live view screen delay when using the ‘Remote Camera Tool’ desktop application[iv]. The speed of the camera’s built-in wireless LAN functionality has also been increased, adding a stable and fast 5 GHz (IEEE 802.11ac)[v] band, in addition to the 2.4 GHz provided in the Alpha 9. IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards are all supported.
Designed to improve the speed of news agencies’ workflow, the Alpha 9 II features a new Voice Memo function that allows spoken information to be attached to images in the form of voice memos that can be replayed when the images are reviewed. The voice data can also be included with images sent to an editor, giving them important information needed for effective editing. Alternatively, a field photographer can also use the ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ “Imaging Edge” application[vi] to transfer voice tags with the images to their mobile device and have the voice memos automatically[vii] converted to text and added to the JPEG images in the form of IPTC metadata[viii]. All of this can be done automatically or manually selected by the photographer.
By combining wireless voice/image transfer and automatic voice-to-text conversion with the ability to auto-transfer images with attached voice memos via FTP, it is possible to shoot and transfer the results to an FTP server without ever having to operate a smartphone. FTP settings within the app can also be sent to a camera via Bluetooth®, allowing for a faster workflow
The Platinum Standard for Speed and Auto Focus Performance
The new Alpha 9 II shares the same acclaimed 35mm full-frame stacked 24.2 MP[ix] Exmor RS CMOS image sensor with integral memory as the original Alpha 9, giving it the same unmatched speed performance and outstanding image quality. The new model can shoot continuously and completely silently[x] at 20 fps for up to 361 JPEG images[xi] or 239 compressed RAW images[xii], with no viewfinder blackout allowing the photographer to follow the subject and action with no interruption to the EVF during picture taking. For times when mechanical shutter is preferred or required, the new Alpha 9 II has been improved to shoot at up to 10 fps, about 2x the speed of the Alpha 9.
The camera is able to function while continuously calculating Auto Focus and Auto Exposure at up to 60 times per second, with newly optimized AF algorithms that provide notably enhanced AF precision and performance, ensuring that even the most erratic subject motion that is associated with sports are captured with high precision. Also useful for sporting events, the camera now offers an anti-flicker shooting[xiii] mode that automatically detects and adjusts for the presence of fluorescent or artificial lighting to maximize image quality.
The advanced focusing system in the new Alpha 9 II is far beyond the capabilities of any professional camera. Comprised of 693 focal-plane phase-detection AF points covering approximately 93% of the image area, as well as 425 contrast AF points, the Fast Hybrid Auto Focus system achieves extremely fast and accurate performance, ensuring all fast-moving subjects are accurately captured. Additional notable focusing capabilities include Real-time Eye AF with right eye / left eye selection, Real-time Eye AF for animal[xiv] augmented with a new algorithm, Real-Time Eye AF for movie[xv], Real-time Tracking[xvi], selectable focus frame color, Touch Pad focus point control while using the viewfinder and more. AF can also now continuously track even if continuous shooting is greater than F16[xvii], providing further accuracy for shots that require slower shutter speeds.
Refined Build and Operability
Pricing and Availability
The new Alpha 9 II will be available in November 2019 priced at approximately $4,500 US. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America
Exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new lens and Sony’s other imaging products can be found at alphauniverse.com, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony’s α – Alpha brand.
New content will also be posted directly at the Sony Photo Gallery and the Sony Camera Channel on YouTube. For detailed product information, please visit:
[i] Electronic shutter mode. Display updating will be slower at slow shutter speeds
[ii] “Hi” continuous shooting mode. At of 1/125 sec. or higher. In AF-C mode the maximum continuous frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. A software update may be required for some lenses. Visit Sony’s support web page for lens compatibility information
[iii] At shutter speeds of 1/125 sec. or higher. The number of AF calculations will depend on the lens used
[iv] Version 2.0 or later required. For more information on the new application updates, please visit the ‘Remote Camera Tool’ website at
[v] Models sold in some countries/regions support IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz) wireless LAN only. 5 GHz communication may be restricted in some countries and regions
[vi] Version 1.1 or later required. Ver.1.1 will be released in October 2019. For more information on the new application updates, please visit the ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ website at
[vii] Only available in regions where Google services are available. Voice Memo exceeding 50 seconds cannot be converted to text
[viii] “IPTC Metadata” is standards of metadata included in digital images formulated by IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council)
[ix] Approximately, effective
[x] Silent shooting is possible when Shutter Type is set to “Electronic” and Audio signals is set to “Off”
[xi] “Hi” continuous shooting mode, UHS-II memory card. Sony tests
[xii] “Hi” continuous shooting mode, compressed RAW, UHS-II memory card. Sony tests
[xiii] Only 100 Hz and 120 Hz flicker is detected. Continuous shooting speed may decrease. Flicker-free shooting is not available during electronic shutter, BULB exposure, or movie recording
[xiv] Stills only
[xv] This function does not track animal eyes
[xvi] “Tracking” in the menu
[xvii] When the camera [Aperture Drive in AF] is set to [Focus Priority], the aperture value can be set greater than F16. The continuous speed slows down.
The compatible lenses are [SEL200600G][SEL35F18F][SEL400F28GM][SEL600F40GM]
[xviii] Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof
[xix] CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off
[xx] Sony internal tests with electronic front curtain shutter
The post Sony Increases Speed And Adds Features On Updated a9 II Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera appeared first on HD Video Pro.
The term proxy gets thrown around a lot in this industry. For many, the term is a panacea for everything. “We’ll generate proxies during the shoot…”, “I’ll give you a drive with the proxies…” and “Can they just use the proxies?” are all commonly heard.
It appears people mistakenly think that when they say “I need proxies” they have requested a specific file format, including specifications like size, compression method, frame rate, etc.
It feels like when people ask for just “a QuickTime” deliverable. A QuickTime movie comes in different sizes, different frame rates and even different codecs. For example, I could deliver a QuickTime ProRes, a QuickTime DNxHD, a QuickTime with h.264 compression… the options go on and on. Telling me to create a QuickTime only tells me that the file name should end with “.mov”. (But don’t assume that all .mov files are QuickTimes—they aren’t.)
So my job is to translate “I need a QuickTime” into what the client really wants. It’s usually a pretty quick discussion. Sometimes, if I can’t get a complete answer I’ll deliver multiple options, just in case.
Although I might be reminded of QuickTimes when people talk about proxies, the situation really is different. Proxies are usually representations of camera originals—although there are use cases for proxies of finished shows.
Why is that different? For a couple of reasons. First, proxies are created near the beginning of the workflow, not as part of deliverables at the end. You need to create the right kind of proxies from the start or they might hold up the rest of the workflow.
Second, rather than creating one QuickTime, proxies based on camera originals entail creating multiple files, perhaps numbering in the hundreds. Once again, you need to get them right.
How to do you get them right? Well, you need to understand how they’re going to be used, so you can ask the right questions. That’s what I’ll talk about next time.
It seems green-screen shooting has only grown in popularity in 2019.
I spend probably an unhealthy amount of time reading production forums, discussion boards and social media group forums that focus on production and camera work. For me, it’s a useful way to get a sense of some of the current as well as coming trends.
Below, I describe some of the bigger trends and movements I’ve seen come about in 2019. Most have been evolving over the past year or two but have expanded into a movement in 2019. Some of these items will continue well into 2020 and beyond, and, of course, some may just peter out and die a slow death.
Here’s my take on what I’m seeing in production and camera work:
There’s always a heated debate when it comes to what qualifies a camera to be a digital-cinema camera. In many ways, the lines separating product types have blurred so much that most cameras on the market, even the one in your phone, can arguably be used to shoot digital-cinema or pro-level video. So where does this leave us in our discussion of the ever-shrinking digital-cinema camera?
This trend has continued to evolve and refine itself over the past couple of years as technology shrinks in size. I met Rich Reid, a National Geographic photographer, a few months ago. He casually took out his iPhone at a party we were both attending when the conversation turned to a documentary I’ve been shooting and a documentary that Rich finished eight years ago.
We were talking about how the gear that we as filmmakers use has been continually not only shrinking but also increasing in features, resolution and image quality.
To that point, as our conversation continued, Rich showed me some beautiful clips on his phone that he has been working on shooting for National Geographic and other clients. One of these clips resulted in Rich being nominated as a finalist for the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
When I asked him if he was using Canon, Nikon or Sony these days, he told me that most of his still and video shooting is shot with his iPhone XR! (You can check out a little about Rich here: nationalgeographic.com/expeditions/experts/rich-reid.)
Needless to say, as a filmmaker and photographer, he produces work that can be considered digital-cinema quality with his cell phone, even if most of his content is consumed online.
There are other tools that have recently been introduced—like the GoPro Hero 7 Black with its ability to shoot 4K footage using its Hyper Smooth technology or the Osmo Pocket that has a true mechanical gimbal in a tiny package that can also shoot 4K 60p—that are continually redefining what a digital-cinema camera is.
Going up just a bit in size, newer models like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K camera, the Fujifilm XT-3 and the Canon EOS R are all capable of highly cinematic images at budget prices compared to cameras with the same or even fewer capabilities, from just a year or two ago.
Other than for Hollywood-style full-crewed productions, which will still require a certain size and weight camera for the foreseeable future, the trend is smaller, lighter, less expensive and more versatile digital-cinema cameras. Along these same lines, the hottest part of the market has gone from mid-level pro cameras, like the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 (BMD UMP G2), Sony FS7 MKII and Panasonic AU-EVA1, to smaller and less-expensive mirrorless cameras that can produce amazing results when combined with pro-level execution.
It’s official: M43, 1-inch and Super 35 imagers are almost dead. OK, that may be a bit of hyperbole, but I noticed this trend beginning at Cine Gear 2017. By last year, in mid-2018, it was clear that the full-frame digital cinema was becoming an industry juggernaut.
At Cine Gear 2019, it became crystal clear to me and to many others that full-frame cameras are now here to stay and are steadily gaining market share.
On the low end of the budget scale, you have the tremendous popularity of the FF Sony a7 variants. You have cameras like the Canon EOS R, which is also an FF camera but only while shooting stills; the 4K is a large crop on the sensor.
You also have holdouts like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and Panasonic GH5 and GH5S, which use the relatively tiny M43 imager, and the Fujifilm XT-3, Sony FS7 MKII and Canon C200/300MKII, Panasonic EVA 1 and VariCam lineup, which stubbornly hold out that S35/AP-C is still the way to go.
But most of those same companies are hedging their bets with full-frame cameras elsewhere in their lineups: Panasonic with the lower-end $4,000 2019 Cine Gear “Belle of the Ball” 6K capable S1H that’s hitting the market in the fall of this year, Canon with its C700 FF and Sony with the 6K VENICE.
Once you move out of the low- to mid-range cameras, though, like the VENICE, the most popular cameras on feature and episodic sets seem to be the RED Monstro and the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF, as well as a few projects shooting with the Panavision DXL II full-frame camera. People seem fully convinced that the different field of view that a larger image circle provides is a desirable look for their work, and the popularity of it has taken off.
The other trend that obviously accompanies full-frame cameras is the advent of lots of new full-frame lenses hitting the market this year, almost too many to count.
Companies that used to only make still lenses have ventured into making cinema lenses. Sigma, Tokina, Angénieux, Zeiss, Leica with its new L-Mount FF glass, Canon with its new RF Mount as well as its new Sumire Primes. The list of new optics companies and new lineups of both FF primes and cine zooms just boggles the mind.
We are, without a doubt, now in the golden age of lens choices, and as you have probably heard, lenses with “character”…cough, cough…“optical defects” are very desired from lens rental sources.
The crystal-clear, clean, neutral lens look, when paired with the ultra-clean, characterless digital camera look that many higher-end cameras deliver, has given way to lenses with color tints, flares, chromatic aberration and all of the optical defects that we as users and lens engineers used to try to mitigate, which are now trending.
Everything old is new again.
In case you haven’t been following this trend, HDR, or high dynamic range settings on cameras and monitors, are now fully established as a legitimate, “normal” workflow, although there are some caveats.
The engineering standard that used to be the standard for television monitors was and is referred to as REC 709. It has very limited dynamic range and presents the images usually with brighter, more saturated colors and a good amount of contrast. REC 709, with the advent of shooting LOG footage becoming almost standard, is somewhat beginning to fade as the standard color space.
This is due to a variety of factors, but one largely driving the movement toward new color standards is the advent of LED monitors, tablet and computer screens and even phone screens that are capable of reproducing a much wider color gamut than a “normal” TV screen. If your audiences own devices that are capable of displaying a much wider color gamut with more dynamic range, it makes sense that you would ideally like to shoot and go through post using a color space that allows the end user to see more colors and more dynamic range.
A challenge with HDR has been that there are several of these color space standards out there and a good portion of the production community is fuzzy on the advantages and disadvantages of each standard.
My “A” camera is the Canon C200 that supports ITU-R BT.2100 standard (PQ). My guess is that many are not familiar with this standard, how it works and what it does, from production all of the way through exhibition. And while knowledge of and how to properly use HDR is growing, for now, I see a lot of people using it without any consistency in their post through exhibition workflow. What’s even more troubling is that I also see a lot of users using HDR technology incorrectly where they’re actually degrading the final image because they don’t grasp how the workflow actually works and what’s needed.
This is a tricky trend to call. But if you examine the still photography business and the digital music recording business, both of these sectors went through a resolution war quite a few years ago.
Still photography had its camera megapixel war, and digital music production gear had its bit-and-sample-rate war.
Both businesses seem to have mostly reached stasis where you don’t see many camera advertisements promoting that their camera has more megapixels on their sensor, and you don’t see many audio gear manufacturers touting anything past 24-bit and 192 KHz sample rates for recording. Because numbers above those numbers (it seems to be about 24 to 26 megapixels for the still cameras), in the real world, simply don’t matter for the vast amount of users.
For those who they do matter for, there will always be a small niche part of those businesses where you can buy cameras or digital backs with a lot more resolution if your work demands it or you can buy outboard gear with higher bit and sample rates for recording audio.
I’m convinced we’re almost at the same place with digital-cinema cameras. Almost all new pro and prosumer cameras now support at least a 4K imager (some even more) shooting to UHD and DCI 4K resolution. A lot of current cameras record 5.7K, 5.9K, 6K and even 8K footage, but I truly believe that the majority of users are beginning to wake up to the fact that resolution wars with camera technology are pointless and in many facets—post, media, storage, long-term storage, computing power necessary to edit it, noise levels of imagers in low light—higher resolution is actually counterproductive to creating better images.
Let’s hope that 8K is the end of the line for the resolution wars in digital cinema so that manufacturers can begin actually focusing on refining ergonomics and operational considerations and building more innovation into cameras instead of increasing raster size/resolution.
There are, no doubt, other trends and movements in cameras in 2019 that I simply don’t have the time and space to take a deep dive into. But these five trends seem to be the most significant to me.
As to looking forward to 2020, what new trends do you think we’ll continue to see in camera technology? I’ll check back in with a follow up to this article next year to see which of these trends have continued and which may be new to the game.
IBC 2019 is the end-of-the-year pro video/digital cinema convention held in Amsterdam.
Whenever we think we have the media cycle down for the announcements of new cameras and gear, it seems as if we get thrown for a loop. This year, the disruptor was IBC 2019. The convention takes place in Amsterdam and over the past few years, it felt as if IBC would have a few new announcements, but usually nothing earth-shattering. It’s strange, NAB in Las Vegas in the spring used to be the big announcement show, but over the past few years, companies seemed to stop placing as much importance on NAB attendance and new product announcements, and it shifted to Cine Gear, which takes place in the late summer in Hollywood. For 2019, IBC was where the action seemed to be with new product announcements.
We already published quite detailed stories on the two new camera announcements from IBC: the introductions of the Canon C500 MKII and the Sony PMW-FX9 digital cinema cameras, both hotly awaited follow-ups to already successful cameras, Canon’s C300 MKII and the C200 to an extent, and the FX9 updating and expanding upon Sony’s successful PMW-FS7 MKII and it’s still-in-the-lineup original FS7. The introduction of these cameras somewhat took me by surprise as they both reside in a sort of financial strata that many of us mistook for all but dead. Prior to the announcements of both of these cameras, key players like Canon’s C300 MKII, Sony’s FS7, the Panasonic EVA 1 and recently, the Panasonic Varicam LT had all dropped below $10,000 retail.
Higher-end digital cinema cameras like the RED camera line, the Arri Alexa, Alexa Mini and Amira, as well as last year’s Sony Venice, all sell for well over $25,000. As you can see, prior to IBC 2019, there was a definite “desert” of pro digital cinema cameras that sell between $10,000 and $20,000. The Canon C500 MKII, listing for $15,999, and the Sony PMW-FX9, listing for $10,999, have definitely changed up the marketplace once again. The lower end of the digital cinema market, with mirrorless cameras, still tops out with Panasonic’s S1H at a list price of $4,000.
As we’ve discussed before, the overall market for cameras is shrinking and has been for a while. Personally, I think the massive success of mirrorless cameras for pro video production, sometimes as an A camera but more often with the mirrorless serving as a gimbal, plant camera or in-car B camera, reflects this downward trend in the market. The consumer side of the camera business is making that market look dismal with very low sales, fewer and fewer new models introduced as that market moves to mostly mobile phones for photography and video. The introduction of the new Canon and Sony point to those two manufacturers still feeling that mid-level production is buying, and still needs, new camera technology, which is refreshingly optimistic.
Besides cameras, there were lots of other interesting gear announced at IBC 2019. Here’s a little point-by-point wrap-up of what I think made these announcements significant:
The most interesting audio announcement for me was the introduction of updated Sound Devices Mix Pre recorder/mixers. The originals hadn’t been on the market for that long and from what we’ve heard, have been a pretty big success as far as sales.
Sound Devices added a time code generator to all three models in the lineup (the originals could only read and distribute existing TC) and the addition of 32-bit float support for recordings. This new 32-bit feature essentially makes audio recording almost foolproof. You can record too low of a level sound and because of the incredible clarity and super-low noise floor, you can amplify and increase the volume by a huge degree with no appreciable noise penalty. If you record the signal too hot, likewise, there’s so much dynamic range the recording will often be perfect, even if recorded “too hot.” The new models are the Mix Pre 3 II, Mix Pre 6 II and Mix Pre 10 II.
One of the most interesting new lighting technologies that exhibited at IBC was the Carpetlight LED Fabric-Based Panels. These new LED lights are super lightweight and very flexible when compared to many other flat-panel flexible LED panels. These lights utilize conductive thread instead of wire to drive the bi-color LED bulbs, resulting in a flexible LED panel that’s lighter and much easier to mount than most existing flexible LED panels. While the Carpetlights aren’t inexpensive (U.S. pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but in Europe, the prices range from €1,799 to €14,900 depending on size), the prices do look competitive for pro-level panels when compared to Arri, LitePanels, etc.
Blackmagic Design announced the Video Assist 12G, a monitor/recorder that’s available in two sizes: 7 inch and 5 inch. The new Video Assists feature an all-metal design with a brighter 2,500 nit screen than the now-discontinued Video Assist models. The monitors record to either single (5 inch) or dual hot-swappable (7 inch) SD card slots in a variety of 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes or DNx formats, at frame rates of up to UHD in 60P. Blackmagic’s BRAW codec is also supported with the Canon C300 MkII and Panasonic EVA1.
The Video Assists record to SD cards, but it’s also possible to record direct to a USB SSD drive like the Samsung T5 over a USB-C connector. Since the older Video Assists were discontinued, this market for monitor recorders has pretty much ceded to the Atomos products, which are excellent, but it’s good to see healthy competition from Blackmagic for the same market.
There were, of course, dozens of other new products introduced with a lot of various grip and lighting products debuting, as well as some other new microphones, but overall, IBC 2019 seemed to feature a lot of new technology that continues on from Cine Gear. There was some discussion chatter flying around in the weeks leading up to IBC 2019 that Panasonic might debut a new camera and that Sony might introduce the long-awaited A7 SIII, but neither rumor turned out to have legs. Overall, attendance was decent and the number of new products introduced means that manufacturers are still bullish on the pro video and digital cinema markets, which is encouraging for all of us who are always looking for the best new tools to use in our work.
Contributing editor for HDVideoPro Daniel Brockett gives us a quick take on the Luxli Cello, a RGBAW 10-inch LED panel. As he notes in the video, the “AW” in the name stand for “amber white.” It also means that the “white LEDs in the panel are made up of two types of diodes…. combining the output of the two color temperatures results in very accurate white-color output,” says Brockett.
Check out the rest of the video for his take on the LED panel:
A recent beta release of Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve introduced a boring detector. By detecting long shots in your sequence, it can help highlight all the yawn-inducing scenes in your project.
I imagine it would light up like crazy if you edited “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Rope” or “Birdman.” Maybe the next beta release will give us the exciting detector—lighting up whenever Jason Bourne is on the screen. Or the sad detector…
Like others, I’m having fun with this bold concept from Grant Petty at Blackmagic Design. For me, it’s not the tool but the marketing of it—mainly the name—that’s the problem. Defining a boring shot based on length is a myopic view of editing, as some of the examples above indicate.
You could simply call it a shot length detector. (“Boring,” I know.) Unfortunately, calling it a boring detector, while controversial, hides the tool’s usefulness.
Being able to determine longer shots might help, but there’s another part of this tool that gets ignored in all the fuss—detecting jump cuts. Jump cuts are user-defined, so you can set it to look for single frames, or two frames, or more. This is useful for longer timelines where at first glance you might not see where there are leftover frames, either from a mismarked edit point or from moving a clip without snapping to an edit point.
But I will take this analysis a step farther. What if the analysis tool could detect how many times a shot has been moved or trimmed or affected in some way? Call it the ignored detector. If a shot hasn’t been touched since it was first inserted into a sequence, maybe it has been forgotten or hasn’t received the amount of attention it may deserve. Was it ignored because you spent so much time finessing that drone shot?
Or maybe there are some quick global indicators that could quickly color all of the clips that are not playing at 100 percent speed. Or maybe everything less than 100 percent speed is blue, 100 percent is green and greater than 100 percent is red. The same thing could also indicate the positioning or scaling of shots.
Along the lines of checking for 100 percent scaling, how about a way to check which stock shots are “comps” and which aren’t? Yes, you can usually tell by the watermarks, but some stock accounts let you try out scenes without watermarks.
And since the software can find all the comp stock shots, how about having it create a simple text list of those shots? Then I can hand that off to whoever purchases the stock. Then they’ll be working off a list of the stock shots we actually used.
Analyzing for stock comps could be done by codec or file format evaluation. Mp4s could be a good indication of a stock comp. That could also lead to verifying full resolution shots versus proxies.
I could also imagine quick checks to make sure that various shots all have the same effects, like LUTs or color grades. As I consider this type of analysis, the ideas keep rolling.
I know I started writing this a bit tongue-in-cheek about the name of the boring detector. But the tool, not the name, is symbolic of the future—where edit tools are going.
Project deadlines are becoming shorter and shorter. As content needs to be posted more and more quickly, editors need all the help they can get to get the job done. A “shot length” detector might help an editor under pressure.
Previously, I posted about a common mistake that occurs when you use stock footage. I gave the example of inserting a slo-mo 24 fps stock clip into a montage of 30 fps footage. The sequence was natively 30 fps. (I’ve rounded 23.976 fps to 24 fps and 29.97 fps to 30 fps for clarity.)
It turns out that edit software is so obliging when it inserts clips that are the wrong frame rate into a timeline. The software automatically compensates for the difference in frame rates. In the above example, it repeats a frame every five frames. Sometimes you won’t see a problem, but other times you may notice the repetition of frames as an occasional stutter in the footage.
If the repeat happened every frame or every other frame, you might apply a speed change to the clip to overcome the problem. But a repeat every five frames? That doesn’t make the math easy.
Most editing applications have different ways of smoothing out frame rate differences. The simplest method is to blend two frames together to either add or remove a frame. A more sophisticated “Optical Flow” tries to calculate the direction that objects—represented by pixels—are traveling and then it creates “in-between” pixels based on that estimation.
Rather than using those methods to create new frames, think about using the frames you already have. Consider that, in this instance, the footage isn’t in real time. If the speed of the footage were changed slightly, would it be noticeable? Maybe not as noticeable as stuttering frames.
To achieve this change, tell the software to play back the footage so each frame of the stock footage is displayed only once. This isn’t done using the usual frame interpolation settings that you use when changing the speed of the clip.
Instead, you change what the software thinks the clip’s frame rate is. In Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, you right click on a clip in the bin and select “Clip Attributes.” Then change the “Video Frame Rate” pull-down selection so it matches your timeline frame rate.
In Adobe’s Premiere Pro, right click on the clip and select “Modify”, then “Interpret Footage…”. The Frame Rate adjustment is at the top of the window. The default is “Use Frame Rate from File:”. To reinterpret the footage, select “Assume this frame rate:” and then enter the sequence frame rate you’re using.
Once you’ve made this modification, the clip will play back without creating new “artificial” frames. The stutter will go away, and the slight speed change should be more than acceptable.
Obviously, this is a solution for clips that aren’t running in real time, but it’s an easy fix to a common problem when you use stock footage.
Sony’s new PXW-FX9 6K Cinema Camcorder
Today, Sony announced the new flagship FX9 pro cinema camera, which will include a new 19 megapixel full-frame “Exmor R” sensor with 15+ stops of latitude (for wide dynamic range) and dual-base ISO. The target markets for the FX9 are freelance and wedding filmmakers, as well as those in film and video production. Sony said that it expects the main applications for the new camera to be promotion video as well as documentary and event filmmaking.
According to the company, the new model combines technology from three different Sony systems: From the digital cinema camera Venice line, the FX9 includes the expression power of full-frame, 15+ stops latitude, dual-base ISO and color science, and from the FS7 series, the FX9 uses its 4K 4:2:2 10-bit recording function, XAVC intra/long, its run-and-gun form factor, the electronic variable ND filter and its usability and expandability. The FX9 also employs the Alpha series auto-focus algorithm from the Alpha E-mount system digital cameras.
Sony says the “newly-developed 6K Full-Frame sensor offers wide dynamic range with high sensitivity, low noise and over 15 stops of latitude that can be recorded internally in” 4K 4:2:2 10bit.
Other new features on the pro-level camcorder include:
The new camera will be available in January 2020 in a few configurations: The PXW-FX9 (body-only) will be available for $10,998 or as a kit (PXW-FX9K with the with 28-35mm f/4 G OSS Lens) for $13,499. Sony’s XDCA-FX9 expansion unit will cost $2,498.
Sony today also introduced the PXW-Z750, which it calls “the world’s first 2/3-type shoulder camcorder to support 4K capture with a 3-chip CMOS sensor system.” It’s planned to be available in February 2020, with pricing to be determined.
Sony also introduced a new cinema lens series, which will have “traditional cinema lens operability” with Sony’s Alpha E-mount system. In effect, the new line will include autofocus in a lens with direct manual focus control. The new line will also have:
Sony said the FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G Cinema Lens, which will be a “full-frame wide angle zoom with advanced optical performance, operability and intelligent shooting fucntions,” will be the first lens in the product line. It will be available in the spring of 2020 for $5,500.
For more information, see the press releases below. Or visit pro.sony.
[[ press release ]]
Sony Launches FX9 4K Camera with Newly-Developed
Full-frame Sensor, Dual Base ISO and
Fast Hybrid Auto Focusx System
— Next generation camera offers greater flexibility to bring artistic vision to life —
SAN DIEGO, CA — SEPTEMBER 13, 2019 — At IBC 2019 in Amsterdam, Sony today unveiled the PXW-FX9, its first XDCAM camera featuring an advanced 6K² full-frame sensor and Fast Hybrid Auto Focus (AF) system. The new camera offers content creators greater creative freedom and flexibility to capture stunning images that truly resonate with audiences.
Building on the success of the PXW-FS7 and PXW-FS7M2, the FX9 uniquely combines high mobility with an advanced AF system, impressive bokeh and slow-motion capabilities thanks to its newly-developed sensor. The FX9 also inherits its color science and a Dual Base ISO from the VENICE digital motion picture camera, creating the ultimate tool of choice for documentaries, music videos, drama productions and event shooting.
The FX9 was designed in close collaboration with the creative community and is an example of Sony continuously evolving cameras to innovate for the customer and market needs. The FX9 benefits from the versatility, portability and performance expected of an FS7 series “Run & Gun” style camera, while also offering High Dynamic Range and full-frame shooting features.
“We are always listening to our customer’s voice, pushing to deliver innovation that allows them to realize their full artistic intention,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “With the new FX9, we are striking an attractive balance between agility and creative performance. We’ve combined the cinematic appeal of full-frame with advanced professional filmmaking capabilities in a package that’s extremely portable and backed by the extraordinary versatility of Sony E-mount.”
The newly-developed Exmor RTM sensor offers wide dynamic range with high sensitivity, low noise and over 15 stops of latitude that can be recorded internally in 4K³ 4:2:2 10bit. Oversampling of the full-frame 6K sensor’s readout allows professionals to create high-quality 4K footage with impressive bokeh effects through shallow depth of field, while wide-angle shooting opens new possibilities for content creators to express their creativity.
A dual base ISO of 800 and 4000 enables the image sensor’s characteristics to best capture scenes from broad daylight to the middle of the night. With S-CinetoneTM color science, the new sensor can also create soft and alluring facial tones. The camera can also capture content up to five times slow-motion with Full HD 120fps shooting played back at 24p.
The shallow depth of field available with a full-frame image sensor requires precise focus control, and the enhanced Fast Hybrid AF system, with customizable transition speeds and sensitivity settings, combines phase detection AF for fast, accurate subject tracking with contrast AF for exceptional focus accuracy. The dedicated 561-point phase-detection AF sensor covers approximately 94% in width and 96% in height of the imaging area, allowing consistently accurate, responsive tracking – even with fast-moving subjects while maintaining shallow depth of field.
Inspired by the high mobility “Run & Gun” style approach from the FS7 series of cameras, the FX9 offers content creators shooting flexibility thanks to a continuously variable Electronic Variable ND Filter. This enables instant exposure level changes depending on the filming environment, such as moving from an inside space to outdoors or while filming in changing natural light conditions.
Additionally, the FX9’s image stabilization metadata can be imported to Sony’s Catalyst Browse/Prepare⁴ software, to create incredibly stable visuals even in handheld mode. Sony is also working to encourage third-party non-linear editing tools to adopt this functionality.
“What narrative cinematographers, documentary filmmakers, music video directors and broadcasters have in common is a need for a flexible camera that allows them to tell unique stories, no matter the environment in which they operate. As a next-generation professional camera, the FX9 captures stunning visuals with the lifelike image quality available from a full-frame sensor, while adding the benefits of advanced auto focus features and customization. This makes it the ultimate creative tool for modern storytellers,” concludes Neal Manowitz.
The FX9 will be available towards the end of 2019 and on display at the Sony stand (A10, Hall 13) at IBC 2019 September 13th– 17th. For more information, please visit www.pro.sony/ibc.
A variety of additional content related to Sony’s cinema imaging products, including articles, videos and events, can be found at www.sonycine.com.
¹Initially supported recoding aspect is 16:9; 17:9 (active about 19M pixels) will be supported by future update.
²6K Oversampling; not capable of 6K recording.
³3840×2160 recording is initially supported; 4096×2160 recording will be supported by future update.
⁴Planned to be supported by Ver.2019.2 in December 2019.
A future update will be scheduled sequentially for summer 2020. Further details will be announced.
[[ press release ]]
Sony Unveils PXW-Z750 Flagship XDCAM Shoulder Camcorder,
with 4K 2/3-type 3-chip CMOS Sensor System with Global Shutter
Delivering Ultimate 4K Image Quality with High Sensitivity and Vivid Color Reproduction, Ideal for News and Live Production
PARAMUS, N.J. — September 13, 2019 — Sony today announced the PXW-Z750, the world’s first 2/3-type shoulder camcorder to support 4K capture with a 3-chip CMOS sensor system. The latest member of the XDCAM® family is optimized for news and production applications including pre-production for 4K/HDR sports broadcasts, magazine shows, unscripted television, and documentary filmmaking.
Sony’s premier 3-chip CMOS image sensor system is mounted on a wide band prism to ensure detailed imagery and vivid colors, along with 4K, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and High Frame Rate (HFR) acquisition with high sensitivity and low noise. Its 2/3-type sensor system delivers imagery with deep depth of field and enables quick focus operation. The 2/3-type sensors allow B4 mount lenses to be attached to the camcorder without adapters, thus maintaining high sensitivity and resolution.
The PXW-Z750 is also the first 2/3-type 3-chip camcorder equipped with global shutter technology for producing clear and crisp images while negating artifacts such as flashband and rolling shutter distortion. This makes the camera an ideal tool for use in uncontrolled lighting conditions, as well as for capturing quickly moving action associated with sports, live events, nature and wildlife production and impact media making.
The PXW-Z750’s HD images are created through 4K oversampling, resulting in clear images with minimal noise. As a result of industry demand and adoption, the camera supports HFR for HD, up to 120fps, to minimize blur and offer crisp slow-motion playback.
Maximized flexibility in HDR operation
The PXW-Z750 also features comprehensive HDR image creation capability. The camera supports S-Log3 / HLG and employs BT.2020 and BT.709 color spaces. Additionally, the camera accommodates Sony’s SR Live, and supports simultaneous recording of 4K HDR and HD HDR to meet various demands such as simulcasting.
“Our cutting-edge new PXW-Z750 flagship model expands Sony’s lineup by bringing the most transformational visual elements – including 4K, HDR and HFR – into a portable and ergonomic package,” said Theresa Alesso, pro division president, Sony Electronics. “In one camera, we’re meeting the demands of producers by delivering a robust 4K platform with a global shutter 4K image sensor. The camcorder can be further enhanced to create an even more comprehensive Sony’s solution when paired with our audio, media and wireless workflows.”
The PXW-Z750 incorporates encoding algorithms for optimizing HDR recording, as well for recording 4K sequences. The camera supports the newly introduced XAVC-L codec for long-GOP QFHD 10bit 4:2:2 at 200Mbps, allowing large volumes of recorded data that requires approximately 1/3 of the storage of XAVC-I Class 300*. XAVC-L does this while maintaining high quality, high resolution 4K imagery and wide dynamic range.
*600Mbps at 59.94p, 500Mbps at 50p
Another powerful feature is 12G-SDI support, which enables the output of 4K images (50p or 60p) over a single BNC cable, enhancing the flexibility of the camera.
Seamless integration with Sony’s hardware and services
The camera supports a range of complementary accessories and options to suit a user’s needs, preferences and budget, while offering expanded interoperability. Sony’s high-quality wireless audio solutions and shotgun mics, including the latest DWX series digital wireless microphone system; the new slot-in receiver, DWR-S03D, and bodypack transmitter, DWT-B30, are compatible with the camcorder. Advanced integration with the DWX series includes synchronized power on/off, control by menu settings or assignable buttons and audio information on the viewfinder
Paired with Sony’s newest durable SxS PRO X cards, the SBP-120F (120GB) and SBP-240F (240GB), ultra-fast transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps* are supported allowing the camera to capture high bit rate content. When the new cards are used in conjunction with the new reader/writer, SBAC-T40 equipped with Thunderbolt 3 interface, it permits the transfer of 240GB of video in approximately 3.5 minutes* creating a fast and reliable solution for shooting and offloading large volumes of content.
*Based on Sony’s internal testing. Transfer speeds vary and are dependent on host devices, the OS version or usage conditions.
The camcorder also supports 4K and HD B4 mount lenses, enabling use with a wide range of in-market and new lens solutions. B4 mount lenses offer a range of focal lengths tailored to suit the needs of virtually any production requirement. The PXW-Z750 also supports several viewfinder and battery solutions.
In addition to hardware integrations, the PXW-Z750 includes built-in wireless network features and supports XDCAM air, Sony’s cloud-based workflow service that offers streaming from the field, remote management and file transfer workflows.
The PXW-Z750 is planned to be available in February 2020, with pricing to be determined. For more information, please visit pro.sony.
[[ press release ]]
Sony Unveils Full-frame E-Mount Cinema Lens FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G,
Designed for High Optical Performance and Reliable Operability
— Lens offers greater flexibility for video content creation, with servo zoom and autofocus/autoexposure system —
SAN DIEGO, CA — SEPTEMBER 13, 2019 — At IBC 2019 in Amsterdam, Sony today introduced a new full-frame E-mount, 16-35mm lens (FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G) to accompany the newly announced FX9 full-frame camera. The lens offers high optical performance, reliable operability and intelligent shooting functions for cinematographers. It is compatible with the full range of Sony’s E-mount cameras – from Alpha interchangeable lens cameras to the VENICE digital cinema camera – bringing unprecedented creative flexibility for all content creators. Sony also announced their intention to expand the FE C Cinema Lens line-up going forward.
“The performance of our new E-mount Cinema Lens series offers filmmakers greater creative freedom and helps them concentrate on their artistic vision. Encompassing the full range of Sony E-mount cameras, our “One Mount” solution is the most powerful system designed for today and for the future,” comments Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics.
Lens for a new age of full-frame video shooting
The new lens is compatible with the intelligent shooting functions of E-mount. Paired with the new full-frame FX9 camera, it supports fast and accurate auto focus, making it possible to track quick-moving subjects while maintaining a shallow depth of field.
Stunning bokeh and corner-to-corner resolution
The two XA (Extreme Aspherical) elements with extreme surface precision of 0.01-micron, together with circular 11-blade apertures, deliver beautifully smooth bokeh in every frame. The two XA elements and three aspheric lenses are positioned in a way that effectively reduces field curvature, astigmatism and, in combination with two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glasses, reduces color distortion. Additionally, floating focus employs two focusing groups, providing outstanding resolution at every zoom position. Nano AR (Anti Reflection) coating drastically reduces flare and ghost phenomenon.
Excellent operability with three independent rings, remote control from the camera, and a detachable servo zoom
The new E-mount lens further offers accurate and precise operability thanks to three independent rings for focus, zoom and iris that content creators can manipulate to get the exact results they desire. The linear response Manual Focus (MF) feature provides direct adjustment for precise and repeatable manual focusing. The focus ring with a large rotation angle also includes a distance scale, which makes it possible to quickly and easily set the same focus position during scenes that need to be shot repeatedly.
The new range also supports a number of lens accessories to facilitate a variety of different shooting styles. The industry standard 0.8mm pitch gear on each lens ring provides the option to use follow focus and remote actuators. Equally, the widely-available 115mm diameter matte box and lens support can be used to aid accurate, responsive and precise operability. Additional functions include a de-clickable iris ring that prevents unintended iris change during shooting, the option to reverse the rotation direction of the zoom ring to be fitted with user’s preference and detachable servo zoom that provides smooth zooming expression.
The new 16-35mm (FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G) will be available in Spring 2020.
Sigma has announced a new cinema lens lines: FF Classic Prime Line. It also announced the development of a PL-to-L adapter.
This new line of Sigma Cine Lens incorporates “more non-coated optical elements to achieve unrivaled expression,” says Sigma. So, they’re similar if not identical to Sigma’s FF High Speed Primes with different coatings. “It retains the high resolution capability…” and “offers a unique combination of low contrast and artistic flare/ghost in the image. Other features include:
The lens line will launch at the of 2019. Note for those filmmakers on a tight budget: Sigma says the lens line will only be “sold as a set of 10 primes.”
Additionally, SIGMA said it was developing of SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-31, a converter that allows PL mount lenses to be used on L-Mount cameras. What was notable about SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-31, is that the company says, “users can use PL mount cine lenses, which are widely used in the filmmaking industry, on the SIGMA fp and other L-Mount cameras.”
At press time, Sigma did not have a launch date or pricing for the new adapter
For more information, see the press releases below.
[[ press release ]]
State-of-the-art resolution meets the classic “look”.
SIGMA CINE LENS welcomes a new series “FF Classic Prime Line” to the lineup. With cutting-edge technology, SIGMA’s new “Classic Art Prime” offers unrivaled expression for artists.
The SIGMA Corporation is pleased to announce the launch of “FF Classic Prime Line” as a new series in
the SIGMA CINE LENS.
FF High Speed Prime Line has been offering the highest resolving power in its class, that is compatible
with 8K shooting with large format sensors, while achieving outstanding compact design. Based on
this product line, the FF Classic Prime Line incorporates more non-coated optical elements to achieve
unrivaled expression. It retains the high resolution capability that SIGMA CINE LENS is well known for,
and offers a unique combination of low contrast and artistic flare/ghost in the image. As with all other
lenses from the FF High Speed Prime Line, it creates beautiful bokeh effects to improve creativity.
FF Classic Prime Line has implemented newly developed coatings on the glass elements and offers
consistent T value across the lineup (14mm and 135mm at T3.2 and the rest of the lenses at T2.5). This
will greatly contribute to the effective workflow in postproduction. Furthermore, it is compatible with
the communication protocol of Cooke “/i Technology”, thus an ideal tool for shooting and editing with
the latest technology, such as VFX. A special coating is implemented on the front and rear elements so
that the lens durability is ensured as with all other cine lenses from SIGMA.
“Classic Art Prime” is a new solution from SIGMA that is required for the most advanced technology for
classical expression. The “look” that FF Classic Prime Line can offer will enable cinematographers to
explore new possibilities in movie creation.
Launch: End of 2019. Only sold as a set of 10 primes.
[[ press release ]]
PL-L Mount Converter
Development of SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-31 Announced
SIGMA Corporation (CEO: Kazuto Yamaki) is pleased to announce its development of SIGMA MOUNT
CONVERTER MC-31, a converter that allows PL mount lenses to be used on L-Mount cameras.
By using SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-31, users can use PL mount cine lenses, which are widely used
in the filmmaking industry, on the SIGMA fp and other L-Mount cameras.
A production version of this new product will be on display at IBC 2019, scheduled to take place in
Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from September 13 to 17, 2019.
MC-31 has shim adjustments on two points of the mount. Adjustments can be made with a shim kit
(included) on the camera side of the mount, or a shim for ARRI digital cameras on the lens side.
With an aluminum-alloy body and strong brass mount and locking ring, MC-31 boasts excellent
It is also designed to be secured on the mount of the SIGMA fp with a screw thread, ensuring an even
more secure connection between the lens and the camera. This allows users to shoot steady without
the lens rattling even after the long-term use.
The removable tripod socket allows MC-31 to be attached to a tripod or other filmmaking accessories
such as a camera cage.
With the screw thread removed, the stopper of the locking ring is released. This makes it possible to use
MC-31 with a PL mount lens that requires tighter mounting than the MC-31’s specifications, allowing
the lens to lock securely in place on the converter.
The markings on the upper part of the converter are in the same luminous paint as the one used for
SIGMA CINE LENS, helping make it easier to replace or adjust a lens in the dark.
The post Sigma Announces New FF Classic Prime Cinema Lenses And Development Of PL-To-L Adapter appeared first on HD Video Pro.
ARRI’s new Orbiter ultra-bright, tunable and directional LED fixture
Today, during a live-streaming online presentation, ARRI introduced a number of new products as part of a powerful new “lighting platform.” The main product of the lighting system is Orbiter, which ARRI calls “a new LED…ultra-bright, tunable and directional LED fixture.” The company also calls Orbiter “the most technologically advanced luminaire ever produced for image capture and color fidelity. All systems in Orbiter are completely new and have been designed with versatility in mind.”
During the livestream ARRI demonstrated Orbiter’s new six-color light engine, which they say will deliver “a wide-color gamut and outstanding color rendition across all color temperatures along with industry-leading, smooth dimming from 100 to 0%.” The Orbiter also has changeable optics, which ARRI says “can transform into many different types of lampheads including projection (profile), open face and soft light.” Other features include a fast processor, ample memory, expanded connectivity, a built-in array of sensors and weatherproof housing
During the presentation, the ARRI executives covered additional aspects of the new lighting platform, including:
ARRI did not disclose pricing or availability during the presentation. For more, see the press release below or go to arri.com/orbiter
[[press release ]]
ARRI introduces Orbiter, the ultra-bright LED point source with a variety of optics
September 10, 2019; Munich – ARRI introduces Orbiter, a new LED luminaire that is poised to change the way the industry looks at digital lighting. An ultra-bright, tunable, and directional LED fixture, Orbiter is the most technologically advanced luminaire ever produced for image capture and color fidelity. All systems in Orbiter are completely new and have been designed with versatility in mind. Orbiter’s new six-color light engine delivers a wide-color gamut and outstanding color rendition across all color temperatures along with industry-leading, smooth dimming from 100 to 0%. With its changeable optics, Orbiter can transform into many different types of lampheads including projection (profile), open face, and soft light. Additional features, such as a fast processor, ample memory, expanded connectivity, a built-in array of sensors, and weatherproof housing, make Orbiter a formidable machine. Orbiter’s state-of-the-art technology and versatile design makes it an optimal lamphead for today and for the future, with endless possibilities for updates, configurations, and enhancements.
Changeable optics is the core innovation in Orbiter. With a wide variety of optics to choose from, Orbiter transforms into the perfect light for your application without sacrificing beam, output, or color quality. The Quick Lighting Mount (QLM) in Orbiter allows for optics with vastly different properties to be attached to the fixture. The high-output, directional beam of the open face optic is ideal for throwing light long distances. The high precision of the projection optics creates a perfect circle of light that can be shaped with cutters, focus, and gobos. The dome optic provides omnidirectional, soft light, great for illuminating large spaces, and a universal QLM adapter creates a direct mounting point for Orbiter-specific Chimera and DoPchoice products. With versatility built in, there is great potential for creating additional optics for different applications.
ARRI Spectra six-color LED light engine
Orbiter is an extremely bright and powerful, directional LED fixture with an output similar to that of the corresponding HMI systems. Its new high output, yet tunable, ARRI Spectra light engine can create hard shadows with defined edges.
Including a red, green, blue, amber, cyan, and lime LED, the ARRI Spectra six-color light engine translates into a wider color gamut, more accurate colors, and most importantly, higher color rendition across the entire CCT range. Skin tones look amazing and natural, and hues are precisely reproduced. Orbiter has a larger CCT range of 2,000 to 20,000 K with ultra-high color rendition across all color temperatures. Using a combination of three dimming techniques, Orbiter’s cutting-edge electronics provide smooth dimming down to zero without color changes or jumps.
LiOS – The new Lighting Operating System
Orbiter is able to take advantage of more than five years of software development for the SkyPanel. Its new software called LiOS (Lighting Operating System) includes all the innovative and groundbreaking features of the SkyPanel plus others, making Orbiter one of the most fully-featured luminaires on the market. LiOS’s eight-color modes include CCT, HSI, individual color, x/y coordinates, gel and source matching, lighting effects, and the new color sensor mode that measures ambient light and recreates it through Orbiter’s output. Other new features in LiOS include simplified DMX modes, performance-enhancing operational modes, over 240 slots for favorites to be stored, optics recognition, multi-language support, a custom boot screen, and many more still to come.
Removeable control panel
With a 4” full-color display, quick navigation buttons, and integrated sensors, the Orbiter control panel allows for easy use with a graphic user interface. Simplified menu structure and re-imagined user interfaces provide one-glance operational views and uncluttered screens. This intuitive design makes changing the color or finding a setting easier than ever before. In addition, the control panel is removable and can be used handheld with the aid of a 5 or 15 m (16.4 or 49.2 ft) control panel cable.
Including a full suite of input and output connectors, Orbiter is prepared for digital communication—today and tomorrow. Ethernet daisy chaining is now possible with two EtherCON ports supporting Art-Net 4, sACN, and TCP/IP. Two USB-A ports are used for LiOS updates and connection of third-party peripherals such as Wi-Fi USB dongles. LumenRadio’s CRMX solution is included, allowing for wireless DMX. Two 5-pin XLR DMX ports used for conventional DMX & RDM communication in and through, and a 3-pin XLR DC input for 48 V power station. An SD Card slot enables future expansion of the software. Finally, a USB-C port is available for computer communication and servicing.
Full suite of sensors
Included in Orbiter is a color sensor for measuring the ambient light, a 3-axis accelerometer and magnetometer for sensing the pan, tilt, roll, and heading of the fixture, heat sensors for keeping the LEDs and electronics at exactly the right temperature, and an ambient light sensor for automatically dimming the control panel display. All these sensors make for a better user experience and increased control over the fixture. Available data improve workflow also in postproduction and service.
Robust, weatherproof housing
The outer design of Orbiter meets the demands of heavy, daily usage. A new weatherproof housing enables outdoor application by using an aluminum cast body with bumpers made of reinforced plastic. The handle makes transport comfortable and allows for handheld operation due to perfect balance.
Large range of applications
Orbiter’s wide range of optics and features allows the fixture to be used in a great variety of applications without compromising quality. Markets such as film and television production, broadcast, theater and live entertainment, and even still photography are just some examples of environments where Orbiter excels. The fixture’s ability to throw light long distances with its open face or projection optics, while at the same time being able to serve as a soft light, brings the flexibility needed on today’s fast-paced film sets. Orbiter’s projection optic will enable broadcasters to have controlled, high-quality light in the studio, and with its battery power, Orbiter can easily be used on the move. The projection optic is the key feature for the theater and live entertainment market and Orbiter also exceeds expectations for continuous lighting in still photography. All in all, Orbiter’s software innovations and connectivity make it the ultimate companion for dynamic lighting setups.
For more information on Orbiter, please visit: www.arri.com/orbiter
The post ARRI Introduces New Versatile Cinema Lighting System appeared first on HD Video Pro.
I recently wrote about coming across stock footage where the clip metadata didn’t align with the actual clip. In particular, a file may say it was shot at 23.98 frames per second, but in reality, it was shot at a different frame rate and then conformed to 23.98fps.
There are other times when the metadata lines up properly but things still go wrong. Well, maybe “wrong” is a little harsh. What I mean is that the footage doesn’t look as good as it could.
Let’s take an example of a project that runs at 29.97fps, which I’ll round up to 30 fps to make things easier to read. You have shot some scenes at 60 fps for a nice slo-mo montage.
After the first cut, you realize that you’re missing a waterfall scene that you desperately need. You don’t have time to go out and shoot, so you opt to search stock libraries to find a scene that will work. You locate a shot and download a low-res watermarked trial clip. You can tell it was shot at high speed since the slo-mo looks natural—no created frames. You buy it and download it.
Now that you have the full resolution clip, you take a closer look at it and can confirm that the metadata matches the clip. You insert it into your sequence, then move on and finish the project. Everything is great.
However, after you watch playback a few times, you notice that the stock shot jumps a bit. You look at the original file again and it looks fine. Then you notice that the clip’s codec is MJPEG (Motion JPEG) and you wonder if your workstation isn’t up to playing that back.
So you take the downloaded clip and transcode it to ProRes or DNxHD or whatever codec the rest of your footage uses. You replace the clip with the transcoded file and try again—same problem.
It’s not a codec problem, it is a frame rate mismatch problem. Although you confirmed the metadata is correct on the stock clip, that metadata tells you the clip is at 24 fps. When you place that clip on your timeline, the software “interprets” the footage to make it fit into the 30 fps sequence.
This interpretation is where the problem is. To make the clip fit, the edit software repeats a frame every 5 frames, causing the stutter that you notice.
Now the stock shot you thought would mesh perfectly with your footage doesn’t, and you’ve already purchased it.
Next time, I’ll explain how to make the shot work.
The new Canon EOS C500 Mark II cinema camera
Today, Canon announced a much-anticipated cinema camera, the new Canon EOS C500 Mark II, which includes some needed updates to the previous model, which was first announced back in 2012 and made available in 2013.
According to the company, the new C500 Mark II has a number of important updates: “With its modular design, competitive price point and new features such as a 5.9K Full Frame CMOS sensor, user-changeable lens mounts, electronic image stabilization, internal cinema RAW light recording and the new DIGIC DV 7 Image Processor, the EOS C500 Mark II represents a bold leap forward for Canon’s Cinema EOS system line.”
New features Canon claims cinematographers and filmmakers will see on the new camera include:
Canon is also adding flexibility into the new model: “For the first time ever with a Canon camera,” says Canon, “users are able to change the lens mount themselves without the assistance from a Canon service center. Customers can purchase the EOS C500 Mark II with a standard EF mount and then have the option to purchase either EF-lock or PL mounts.”
The new Canon Cinema EOS C500 Mark II will be available in December 2019 for $15,999.
For more information, see the press release below.
[[ press release ]]
OWN, OPERATE, DOMINATE: EOS C500 MARK II 5.9K FULL FRAME CINEMA CAMERA DELIVERS VERSATILE, AFFORDABLE SOLUTIONS
New Cinema EOS Camera Features a User-Changeable Mount, Internal Cinema RAW Light Recording and the Newly Developed DIGIC DV 7 Image Processor
MELVILLE, N.Y., Sept. 5, 2019 – Contrary to popular belief, sometimes a sequel is better than the original. That is the case with the all-new Canon EOS C500 Mark II cinema camera today announced by Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions. With its modular design, competitive price point and new features such as a 5.9K Full Frame CMOS sensor, user-changeable lens mounts, electronic image stabilization, internal cinema RAW light recording and the new DIGIC DV 7 Image Processor, the EOS C500 Mark II represents a bold leap forward for Canon’s Cinema EOS system line. The variety of assembly and lensing options help to make this camera ideal for a broad range of applications, from run-and-gun documentary shooting to live television broadcasts and big-budget films.
“As Canon’s position in the production industry has grown, we have sought to deliver new solutions that can perform at an elite level, while also maintaining competitive pricing to help continue to remove the barriers of great content creation,” said Kazuto Ogawa, president and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “The EOS C500 Mark II encompasses the latest Canon technologies and, when teamed with the recently announced Sumire Prime Cinema Lenses and DP-V3120 4K Reference Display, forms an incredible input-to-output solution.”
The EOS C500 Mark II features a 5.9K full-frame sensor with 60p recording 5.9K and 4K (2K recording at 120p) and 15 stops of dynamic range. In addition, the newly introduced DIGIC DV 7 image processor allows for more fluid and efficient recording of 4K and HDR. Cinema Raw Light, first introduced in the popular EOS C200 cinema camera, helps to cut data size to about one-third to one-fifth of a Cinema RAW file, without losing grading flexibility.
For the first time ever with a Canon camera, users are able to change the lens mount themselves without the assistance from a Canon service center. Customers can purchase the EOS C500 Mark II with a standard EF mount and then have the option to purchase either EF-lock or PL mounts. This feature provides users with the creative freedom to pair the camera with the lenses that will provide the desired look for each project they work on.
In addition to the changeable mounts, the new camera’s body is quite modular. Included are 13 accessories, such as a 4.3-inch LCD monitor and the GR-V1 grip, and users can choose from a wide range of additional accessories that allow them to configure the EOS C500 Mark II to their preferences. Optional accessories include the EVF-V70 electronic viewfinder, SU-15 shoulder support unit and EU-V1 and EU-V2 expansion units. The EU-V1 expansion unit allows for gen-lock, sync out, remote use and ethernet connection, while EU-V2 expansion unit features those functions plus a V-mount battery connection, two analog XLR audio ports and 24v DC Out.
Additional features of the Canon EOS C500 Mark II include:
Pricing and Availability
The Canon Cinema EOS C500 Mark II is scheduled to be available in December 2019 for an estimated retail price of $15,999.00*. For more information, including accessory prices and availability, please visit, cinemaeos.usa.canon.com.
The C500 Mark II is the first digital cinema from Canon that’s truly modular. Pictured here with the optional V-mount back, shoulder mount/baseplate, rods, lens support, handgrip extension
At IBC 2019 in Amsterdam today, Canon introduced a new digital cinema camera, the C500 Mark II. I’m not going to go deep into the specs of the camera as they can easily be obtained from our news item. I’d like to posit what I see as the reason Canon updated the C500 Mark II, and what seems to be Canon’s strategy for continuing to update and refine the EOS Cinema camera lineup.
Top five headline features of the new C500 Mark II:
Of course, there are dozens of other interesting features on the C500 Mark II, but these five features, some of which are quite unique, mean that Canon is finally moving toward a more modular, customizable digital-cinema camera.
This is the first 6K capable camera from Canon that can record the signal (ok, it’s 5.9K, close enough) internally. The C700FF can record a similar 5.9K signal, but only with an optional, expensive Codex recorder. The C500 Mark II can record that 5.9K signal internally using Cinema RAW Light, which is a significant factor for cost, weight, cleaner design with fewer cables and a host of other reasons.
Other Canon cameras have had interchangeable lens mounts, but only were changeable with an expensive visit to a Canon Service Center. With the C500 Mark II, the user can purchase their very own (optional) locking EF Mount Kit and or a PL Mount Kit.
Not a lot of details about how exactly this function works were available at press time, but it is known that the C500 Mark II’s internal stabilization can work in concert with certain Canon IS and IS II equipped lenses to offer IS on five axis. If a non-IS lens is used, the C500 Mark II still offers three-axis internal stabilization. This is a an industry first: There are no other true digital-cinema cameras that offer this feature, which has become much more common on mirrorless cameras, like the Panasonic Lumix S1H, Panasonic Lumix GH5 and the Sony a7 variants.
While long rumored as the next iteration of non-proprietary high-speed media card, the C500 Mark II will apparently be the first digital cinema camera to actually utilize the card format, which is itself launching at IBC 2019. Canon said this higher speed media was needed to handle the Cinema RAW Light recording at 5.9K resolution.
Unlike other Cinema EOS cameras, the C500 Mark II will have numerous accessory options available, including three different camera backs, two different EVFs, a remote paint box, separate baseplate, rods and handgrip rail package.
The C500 Mark II basic camera will retail for $15,999. The C500 Mark II is a professional digital cinema camera with pro audio and video connections, built-in ND filters, XLR audio inputs, etc., So, it’s definitely not a small mirrorless camera. Additionally, comparisons with low-cost leaders, like the Blackmagic Design Pocket 6K and the Panasonic S1H are probably not very relevant, since those cameras are used by different shooters, usually shooting different types of programming.
In a way, the C500 Mark II seems like a lower-end C700FF, but it’s much smaller, lighter (3.9lbs for the C500 Mark II body, 7.6lbs for the C700 FF body) and more agile.
The question is, will the C500 Mark II’s potential audience be willing to spend, realistically, about $18k to $20k for a fully optioned C500 Mark II? It’ll be interesting to see potential buyers reaction to this interesting, very full-featured camera. We will be doing a full, in-depth user review with the C500 Mark II as soon as it’s available to us. Stay tuned.
The post 5 Features Worth Talking About On The Canon EOS C500 Mark II Cinema Camera appeared first on HD Video Pro.
I recently watched Jay Myself, a documentary film about the monumental move of renowned photographer and artist, Jay Maisel, who, in February 2015 after forty-eight years, begrudgingly sold his home—the 35,000 square-foot, 100-year- old landmark building in Manhattan known simply as “The Bank.” Sold for over 50 million dollars, it was the largest private real estate deal in the history of New York City.
Through the intimate lens of filmmaker and Jay’s protégé, noted artist and photographer Stephen Wilkes, the viewer is taken on a remarkable journey through Maisel’s life as an artist, mentor and man; a man grappling with time, life, change and the end of an era in New York City.
Part of what’s so fantastic about the film is how the building itself serves as a vehicle to get to know the artist. Maisel sees beauty everywhere he goes: not only through his camera lens, but in everyday objects. Each room in the building is home to various items he’s been collecting throughout his lifetime, providing viewers with tangible evidence of what inspires an individual that sees the world as a playground of inspiration. So copious are his collections, it takes him six months to pack up and a bill of approximately $200,000 to transport the 35 truck loads.
The filmmaking decisions Wilkes makes also gives the documentary a unique edge. The film is about Maisel, but it’s told via his relationship with the filmmaker. Watching the documentary, viewers are privy not only to their close relationship, but Wilkes’ process and thoughts as he makes the film. He includes footage of conversations he and Maisel have about what the film will entail, as well as clips that feel like behind-the-scenes footage most filmmakers relegate to supplementary extras.
Jay Myself opened at Film Forum in New York City July 31, 2019. Make sure to stay for the post-credit audio.
The post “Jay Myself” Is An Insightful Film About Photographer Jay Maisel By Stephen Wilkes appeared first on HD Video Pro.
The Nikon D6 DSLR
Today, Nikon made three product announcements. Although one could more accurately say it simply named two new products—the Nikon D6, the new pro flagships DSLR, and a new pro telephoto zoom, the AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR F-mount lens. For the highly anticipated DSLR and the zoom lens, Nikon doesn’t offer much more than “details including release dates, pricing and specifications for these products will be announced at a later date.” But according to the press release, Nikon says that its “currently developing its most advanced DSLR to date” and that it is “striving to expand possibilities for imaging expression and leading the way in imaging culture with both DSLR and mirrorless camera systems, as well as a rich lineup of NIKKOR lenses.” Which seems to indicate that it still plans on developing and supporting its DSLR system as well as expanding its mirrorless system.
So, today’s only real product announcements—one that actually includes product features and specifications—is the new Nikon NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S lens for its Z-mount full-frame mirrorless system cameras.
This latest NIKKOR lens is a fast, wide-angle prime lens that gives the full-frame mirrorless lens line a truly wider-angle prime. (Up until now the 35mm f/1.8 S was its widest prime.) It also has a maximum aperture of f/1.8, which should allow for nice shallow depth-of-field effects with beautiful bokeh. According to Nikon, the new lens is “designed for photographers and videographers looking to capture gorgeous wide-angle landscapes or vivid street photography, a travel adventure or a stunning starscape.” Some of the notable specs include:
Nikon also claims the lens is optimized for video capture. According to the company, “as a popular cinematic focal length, the 24mm f/1.8 S will be a welcome addition to Z series shooters’ arsenals, boasting near-silent stepping motors for ultra-quiet performance, reduced focus breathing, a customizable control ring for smooth control of aperture and exposure compensation and the ability to take advantage of the in-camera 5-axis VR + eVR of the Nikon Z series cameras.”
The new NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S will be available in mid-to-late October 2019 for $999.95.
For more information on both products, see the press releases below.
[[ press release ]]
NIKON IS DEVELOPING THE D6 DIGITAL SLR CAMERA AND THE AF-S NIKKOR 120-300MM F/2.8E FL ED SR VR TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS
MELVILLE, NY (September 4, 2019 at 12:01 A.M. EDT) – Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce the development of the Nikon D6 professional DSLR camera and the AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR telephoto zoom lens.
Nikon released the D1 digital SLR camera in 1999, making 2019 the 20th anniversary of the single-digit D series. Thanks to the imaging know-how cultivated over Nikon’s long history in camera development, Nikon’s professional DSLR cameras have continued to evolve by introducing some of the industry’s most advanced technologies and responding to the strict demands of professional photographers with the ultimate in performance and reliability, even in the most severe conditions. With the D6, Nikon is currently developing its most advanced DSLR to date.
This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the Nikon F mount. The new AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR F mount lens that Nikon is developing will provide professional photographers in fields such as sports photography with even greater support.
Nikon is striving to expand possibilities for imaging expression and leading the way in imaging culture with both DSLR and mirrorless camera systems, as well as a rich lineup of NIKKOR lenses.
Details including release dates, pricing and specifications for these products will be announced at a later date. For more information on the latest Nikon products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.
[[ press release ]]
NIKON EXPANDS ITS HIGH-PERFORMANCE S-LINE WITH THE NEW NIKKOR Z 24MM F/1.8 S – A FAST, WIDE-ANGLE PRIME LENS
The Versatile NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S Delivers Superior Optical Performance, Equipping Nikon Z Series Creators with an Incredibly Sharp, High-Resolution Lens to Explore Wide-Angle Perspectives
MELVILLE, NY (September 4, 2019 at 12:01 A.M. EDT) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the fast, wide- angle NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S, the latest addition to the ever-expanding NIKKOR Z lineup of lenses. The 24mm f/1.8 S is optimized for capturing everything from cityscapes to environmental portraits and is built to take advantage of Nikon’s large Z-mount, delivering the ultimate combination of fast, bright and sharp performance in nearly all lighting conditions.
“The NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S continues our commitment to offering exciting prime lenses to Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 users, while also providing exceptional level of quality achieved by the S-Line of NIKKOR Z lenses,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. “The combination of wide-angle perspective and a fast f/1.8 aperture is optimal for all types of photography including landscapes, making the NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S a must-have lens to unleash the full potential of the Nikon Z series.”
The NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S – A Storyteller’s Dream Lens:
The NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S joins the S-Line of high-performance NIKKOR Z lenses, giving creators an essential focal length to add to their kit of fast prime Z-mount lenses. The lens takes advantage of the most advanced NIKKOR technologies to deliver optical superiority, exceptional sharpness, beautiful bokeh and high-resolution across the entire frame, even at maximum aperture.
The new NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S was designed for photographers and videographers looking to capture gorgeous wide-angle landscapes or vivid street photography, a travel adventure or a stunning starscape. For videographers and content creators, this popular focal length is a staple for production due to its natural perspective. Thanks to the advantages of the lens’ bright and fast f/1.8 maximum aperture along with the wider Z-mount, Nikon Z series users can capture exceptionally sharp images in dimly lit settings, with a lens that’s ideal for nighttime shooting and astrophotography.
The NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S features 9 rounded aperture blades, allowing users to capture beautifully circular bokeh that adds a level of dimensionality to help capture compelling content. Users can confidently explore their creative potential in nearly any landscape thanks to the lens’ reliable dust and drip resistant design, ideal for tough weather conditions. The lens construction also consists of four Aspherical Lens Elements and one Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass element to combat aberration, while Nikon’s patented Nano Crystal Coat helps eliminate ghosting and flare. The 24mm f/1.8 S is further equipped with Nikon’s Multi-Focusing System, which uses two AF drives in tandem to deliver superior resolving power and achieve fast and accurate autofocus, even at minimum focus distance.
In addition to achieving the top-notch image quality that storytellers and content creators have come to expect from the S-Line of NIKKOR Z lenses, the NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S is also optimized for video capture. As a popular cinematic focal length, the 24mm f/1.8 S will be a welcome addition to Z series shooters’ arsenals, boasting near-silent stepping motors for ultra-quiet performance, reduced focus breathing, a customizable control ring for smooth control of aperture and exposure compensation and the ability to take advantage of the in-camera 5-axis VR + eVR of the Nikon Z series cameras.
Price and Availability
The NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S will be available in mid to late October 2019 at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $999.95. For more information on the latest Nikon products, including the new NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S and the full Nikon Z mount system, please visit www.nikonusa.com.
The post Nikon Announces Development Of Flagship D6 DSLR And Prime Lens, Introduces New Z Lens appeared first on HD Video Pro.
Stock footage has become a commodity. Sometimes I use a single stock shot and other times—for example, with a pitch piece—all I work with is stock footage.
As will all commodities, the quality varies. Some shots look great, others only look okay. Oftentimes you don’t know which until you buy the shot and can look at the full resolution files. The challenge is to make it look as good as possible.
In some cases, the resolution might not match your sequence resolution. If it’s shot well and there are only a few shots like that, you can usually get away with it. If not, it might be appropriate to have a serious conversation about the resolution of the final piece. Does it really need to be 4K UHD or 1920×1080, or can you deliver 1280×720?
Resolution differences are an obvious problem. If you edit in HD and the shots are 4K, there won’t really be an issue. Just cut the shots into the sequence, scale them down, and move on.
But there can be some less obvious problems with stock footage, such as differing frame rates. Do a search on any stock library and you’ll see myriad frame rates listed: 23.976 (or 23.98), 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 59.94 and 60. Of course, you assume that the frame rate listed for a file is an accurate specification. Usually it is. But there’s no guarantee that the frame rate is the frame rate of the original shot.
I recently received a shot of a young girl running through a field of wheat. The shot was in slow motion and the specs said it was 29.97. But when I stepped through the shot frame by frame, every 5th frame was repeated. When played back it was a nice slo-mo shot, but with a small stutter. Most people wouldn’t have noticed it, but if you paid attention to the wheat, the repeated frame became just enough of a distraction to take away from the shot.
Here’s what I think happened. First, the original scene was captured at high speed, resulting in high-quality slow motion. The alternative would be to shoot at normal speed and slow down the scene in post. While there are some great algorithms for this approach, high-speed capture looks better to me. So, the intent of the cinematographer was there. High-speed capture made for a great looking shot.
But then the clip made its way into post and the great looking shot was degraded. I’m pretty sure it was placed into a sequence that wasn’t a multiple of the original. For example (and I’ll round the frame rates), the shot was captured at 48 fps and placed into a 30 fps sequence, not a 24 fps sequence.
You’d have had a problem even if you used a 24 fps shot in a 30 fps sequence. The edit software will repeat some frames so that the 24 fps footage runs at proper speed. If it didn’t, the 24 fps shot would run a little fast.
Why did this happen? Did the submitter think that people searching stock were looking for 29.97 footage? Did it come from a project that had to deliver 29.97 and so it was quickly exported? Was it grouped with other 29.97 footage and then delivered?
I have no idea what happened. Instead, I just remember that for stock footage—or, for that matter, any post-processed shot that doesn’t have true metadata like a camera original—you can’t always trust what’s written You have to trust what you see.
Canon unveiled two new lenses for its RF full-frame mirrorless system: RF15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM and RF24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM.
Canon says that the RF15-35mm F2.8 L IS lens has an ultra-wide zoom range and is its first F2.8 wide zoom lens “equipped with IS for full-frame with a CIPA standard of five stops.” Also, the total size of the lens is equivalent to the existing EF lens, but allows for IS, wider field of view and the control ring indicative of the RF lenses.
Canon’s RF24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM lens was “created for a wide range of shooting scenarios from street scene snapshots to movie shooting.” Like the RF15-35mm lens, this lens is equivalent to the size of the EF counterpart but with image stabilization. It also has a high-speed and high-precision Nano USM motor for accurate, silent focus operation for stills and moving shooting, according to Canon.
Both the Canon RF15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM and RF24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM lenses are to be available in late September 2019 for $2,29
For more information, see the press releases below
MELVILLE, NY, August 28, 2019 – The time has come and the wave of momentous advancements in the world of the EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera system continues as Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced the introduction of the RF15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM and RF24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM lenses. With their large, bright F2.8 aperture, a zoom range that covers a wide range of shooting scenes and image stabilization (IS), as well as Nano USM – these lenses are sure to become workhorse lenses for professional and advanced amateur photographers.
“As the emergence of mirrorless cameras continue accelerating the market and with Canon’s deeply rooted heritage in optics, we are excited to expand the lens offerings and acquiesce the needs of EOS R users,” said Kazuto Ogawa, president and chief operating officer, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “The technical improvements and features within these new RF lenses are needed to drive the market forward.”
RF15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM
As Canon’s first F2.8 wide zoom lens equipped with IS for full-frame with a CIPA standard of five stops, the RF15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM lens is furnished with edge-to-edge sharpness throughout the zoom range to capture clear images with high image clarity from the center of the image throughout the entire focal range. Speaking of focal range, the RF15-35mm is an ultra wide range that allows for broader photographic expression with more emphasis on perspective. Other components include:
RF24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM
Created for a wide range of shooting scenarios from street scene snapshots to movie shooting, the RF24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM lens remains portable while equipped with IS. Other components include:
Free Firmware Update
In addition, a new, free downloadable firmware update will be released in late September for the EOS R system. Those interested can download the update for their respective system via the EOS R and EOS RP support pages. The update will improve three main functions:
The firmware update aims to add detection of the subject’s eye when the subject is at a distance, improve overall AF frame tracking for moving subjects, as well as improve initial subject recognition and start tracking when subjects are at a distance.
Pricing and Availability
The Canon RF15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM and RF24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM lenses are both scheduled to be available in late September 2019 for an estimated retail price of $2,299.00* each. To complete the trinity of F2.8 lenses, the RF70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM lens is scheduled to be shipping within the second half of 2019 – stay tuned! For additional information, please visit, usa.canon.com.
The post Canon Introduces Two RF lenses For Full-Frame System appeared first on HD Video Pro.
In a previous post, I recounted a problem I ran into when I tried to match an offline sequence to a finish or online sequence. Basically, the camera originals were very long and had been trimmed because it wasn’t feasible to render out color-graded full-length clips. I tried to duplicate the edit using those trimmed clips.
When I compared the graded, speed-changed clip to the original speed-changed clip, they didn’t line up. Even when I was able to line up the first frame, throughout the clip there were frames that didn’t match. In my post, I mentioned that I solved the problem by nesting. This post describes the process.
The problem was caused by how edit software calculates which frames are displayed when there’s a speed change. While I don’t know the exact methodology, I believe that the calculation always starts with the first frame of the clip. All of the math proceeds from there.
For example, let’s take a hypothetical speed change that involves playing two frames, skipping one, playing one, dropping two, playing two, skipping one, playing two and then repeating. You could represent that sequence as 11010011011, where 1 represents a frame played and 0 represents one that’s skipped.
At first 11010011011 seems like an unreasonable sequence (or cadence). However, if you work with something shot at 48 fps or 60 fps that’s inserted into a 30p or 24p sequence and is sped up to fill a hole in the sequence – say 148 percent – you might see why the cadence could end up like that.
“So what?” you say? The problem is that the cadence always starts with the first frame of the clip. That means when the new color-graded (and trimmed) clip starts on a different first frame, chances are excellent that the frames displayed and skipped won’t match.
How about dragging the new clip around and getting it to match? No. It won’t match—unless you get lucky and the starting frame is a multiple of the cadence and matches up with the old clip. It won’t take Clint Eastwood to ask you about your luck, believe me.
A fix I found was to use nesting. Nesting allows you to group one or more clips (typically laid out vertically in a sequence) into a new sequence that then gets edited into the original sequence.
Either way, the new clip now matches the original one. Why? Because of the nesting, the cadence is dependent on the first frame of the nested sequence. And since the first frame of the nested sequence is the first frame of the original clip, the cadence is the same.
While nesting has a lot of different uses in an edit, it really was the only way to solve this problem.
A view of Cine Gear 2019 at Paramount Studios.
Video/digital cinema production in 2019, to me, feels as if there are some groundbreaking changes underway. I’m not sure if you have felt this lately, but I definitely have.
As you may or may not be aware of, Blackmagic Design had major new product announcements recently. Buried within those new announcements was word that Resolve 16.1 public beta has been released. Contained within Resolve 16.1 is the new Smart Indicator. The new cut page in DaVinci Resolve 16 introduced multiple new smart features, which work by estimating where the editor wants to add an edit or transition and then allowing it to be applied without the wasted time of placing in and out points on the exact locations of the clips. While I’m not positive, I believe that the language Blackmagic Design is using indicates that these new features are at least a basic form of Ai, in that the software anticipates some editing decisions that the editor might want to make and then does them.
This is supposedly faster because the software guesses what the editor wants to do and just does it by adding the inset edit or adding a transition to the edit closest to where the editor has placed the CTI. The problem is in complex edits, where it’s hard to know what the software would do and which edit it would place the effect or clip into. This is where the new smart indicator provides a small marker in the timeline so customers get constant feedback on where DaVinci Resolve will place edits and transitions. The new smart indicator constantly live updates as the editor moves around the timeline.
The other feature notable in Resolve 16.1 is the Boring Director. DaVinci Resolve 16.1 introduces a new Boring Detector that allows the whole timeline to be highlighted where any shot is too long and would be boring for a viewer to watch. The boring detector can also show jump cuts where shots are too short as well. The analysis is constantly showing which parts of the timeline are boring so as editors work and add shots to their edit, they can see the remaining parts of the edit that are considered boring. The boring detector is great when using the source tape, as editors can perform a lot of edits without playing the timeline, so the boring detector will be an alternative live source of feedback.
The question is, how do you feel about your editing software functioning as a sort of Ai powered assistant versus a passive tool? For me personally, I’m all for it. If I’m editing a piece, in the end, all that matters is if the edit works and if the visual and narrative story is engaging. I don’t really care that much about the process of how I got there. All that matters to me is if my clients and the audience like what they see. However, keep in mind, editing, for me, is a means to an end. I’m not a full-time editor who only edits for a living; it’s just a component of what I do. If I was a full-time editor, I might feel differently. Or I might not. How do you feel about this development from Blackmagic Design?
If you haven’t heard about this, you will be soon. I won’t go into all of the detailed analysis because that would probably be pretty boring to read, but let me glean a few headlines for you about what’s been happening in our industry:
What conclusions can we draw from these numbers? Keep in mind that these statistics and numbers are global and that they focus more on consumer cameras than professional digital cinema cameras. It’s obvious that the majority of the camera market hasn’t disappeared, but it has changed platforms, obviously to smartphones. A lot of buyers who would have previously just bought a digital point-and-shoot now are just using the increasingly capable cameras in their phones. The cameras in the highest-end smartphones especially have grown to be better and better as far as image quality and features.
As a consumer of professional cameras, why should all of these numbers concern me? The problem is, we have a trickle-down effect at work here. Canon USA recently laid off a sizable amount of its workforce and closed their Jamesburg, New Jersey, service facility. Sony has been dragging their feet, not introducing any new digital cinema camera in 2019, although they did introduce the Venice in 2018. Panasonic did introduce a new mirrorless 6K camera, the S1H, at CineGear 2019, but no new digital cinema camera from them this year either. Nothing but a $6k price reduction on their older Varicam LT.
As you can plainly see, the massive shrinking of the consumer camera market is affecting the professional digital cinema camera market as well. We’re also seeing the encroachment of the Chinese into the pro digital cinema camera market with new cameras like the Z Cam E2 and the Kinefinity Mavo. Both of these manufacturers are offering features and specs that were recently only available on the very top of the line cameras like the RED lineup, but for a fraction of the cost.
Is the camera market actually dying? I guess that depends on how you view the camera market. For traditional camera manufacturers, yes, this is a very difficult time as sales volume has dropped off tremendously. For professional users, we’re facing much longer product refresh cycles compared to the frantic pace of new cameras and innovation over the last few years. For some of the newer and smaller players, the camera market worldwide still presents opportunities to flourish, but the rules of the market and what the customers expect are changing rapidly. Witness Blackmagic Design who just introduced their new Pocket Cinema 6K camera at $1,500 less ($2,495) than Panasonic’s S1H 6K camera that isn’t even shipping yet. Stay tuned to see what craziness will envelop camera buyers next.
In a nutshell, consolidation, competition and streaming ascend. Consolidation is really all about the D-word, Disney. Is there anything that the Disney monolith hasn’t yet swallowed? Star Wars? Check. Pixar? Check. Marvel? Check. Fox? Check. Next up is the launch of the Disney Plus streaming service that will go head to head in the marketplace with Netflix and with Apple’s upcoming TV Plus streaming service. The players are changing as traditional studios like Sony, Paramount and Warner Bros. are being somewhat passed over by these new streaming monoliths. Sure, the old “traditional studio” players will still be around and providing content for the new players, but the days of theatrical and episodic television over broadcast being considered “Hollywood” are drawing to a rapid end.
What does all of this mean for us content creators? It’s hard to say. All three streaming services will have a huge appetite for new original and derivative programming, which is good for us. The competition is intense, though, as almost everyone is now more interested in pitching content to the new players than the older established studios, so it’s not like there’s a huge welcome mat on the front door of each streaming service inviting you in to pitch your series, movie or web series.
I predict a wholesale shakeup in the kind of programming that will be popular though. In the era of streaming, it feels as if the audiences will have more to say about the kind of content they watch since they’re more in charge than they were in the previous era. Audiences today aren’t afraid to activate a streaming service just for watching a particular series or event, then turning their subscription to that service off before moving on to the next show, series or outlet. There’s very little loyalty to a single streaming service like there used to be for watching “must-see TV,” so the landscape is becoming more fractured and individualized.
There have been some bright spots: The global theatrical and home entertainment market generated $96.8 billion in 2018, a 9 percent increase on 2017, according to a new report from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). As you’re probably aware, gaming surpassed filmed entertainment about 15 years ago and ever since then, filmed entertainment has been on a long, slow downward trend, so seeing that much year-on-year growth is encouraging for us all. Here’s to that number increasing!
You might think that the image that leads this post is missing. Or maybe it’s a mistake. I can assure you that it’s not. It’s exactly the image that should be there. In fact, it’s perfect.
Before I explain the image, I want to talk about the tools that editors have at their fingertips. A lot of the tools are all about making a difference on the screen. They may be included in the editing package or they may be plug-ins added to the software.
I use some tools not to make a difference but to make sure there isn’t a difference. There are times when shots or sequences leave my realm and are returned to me later in the project. These shots might now include effects or color work. In other cases, someone might have taken my cut and recut for another use, then sent it back to me to finish.
In any case, shots or sequences that I had no control over may be returned to me and I now need to incorporate them into my sequence. In doing so, I want to make sure that the only changes that were made outside my control were done on purpose.
One of the tools I use is found in the composite method assigned to each clip in the timeline. Depending on the application this setting might be called Composite or Blend mode. Usually, a pull-down menu appears when you click on it, displaying a dizzying array of options for this tool. Each one is a formula for overlaying the current clip on the clip below it.
I use some of these selections in order to composite graphics or footage to achieve a certain look, but that’s for another discussion. The option I use for comparison is the Difference mode. Difference mode causes the software to compare the RGB values of each pixel in the clip with the clip below it.
It’s really a simple mathematical equation. Each pixel is defined by its red, green and blue values (RGB). If the RGB values of a pixel in the top clip are R123, G210, B27 and the value of the pixels of the bottom clip are also R123, G210, B27, then when you subtract the RGB values you get 123-123=0, 210-210=0 and 27-27=0. That leaves R0, G0, B0. That represents black. That’s what the image is at the top of this post. That result, from a comparison perspective, is perfect.
So, if nothing changed between the top and bottom clip, you get black. If something did change, you’re left with a different kind of image. That image can be strikingly psychedelic or it can be more nuanced.
Using Difference blending, I can quickly compare an offline cut with a finish cut to look for flash frames where edits don’t line up or shots are wrong. Sometimes, there might be accidental scaling applied where the clip has been enlarged or reduced by 1 percent. Or, there might be a clip that has a different speed change applied to it.
Quickly scrolling through a sequence that’s mostly black makes the “mistakes” pop out. A 1 percent scale difference is obvious using Difference blending but difficult to see when just looking at the scene.
There are also times when a client might ask if a particular version of a shot was used. A client might call and ask, “Is that the version where we went back and made his eyes a little more intense?”
If I wasn’t involved in that revision to his eyes, it might be hard for me to see the difference. Using Difference blending, I can compare the versions of the clips to see changes—they’ll be subtle but easier to see than looking at a split-screen.
There are lots of tools available to an editor, but not all their effects show up on the screen. I rarely use Difference blending as part of a composite on a clip, but it is still an indispensable tool. With it, I can make sure I get things right when finishing.
The Panavision Millenium DXL 2 was announced in 2018 but has just come into use on major features and some episodic in 2019.
It’s basically two-thirds of the way through 2019, and I felt it would be clarifying and helpful if I were to sit down and put fingers to keyboard to take a look at what’s happening with 2019 production cameras so far this year. A sort of state of the union for camera technology for video/digital cinema users. What sorts of changes, announcements, game plans and trajectories seem to be falling into place for the tools that we use to do our jobs? Let’s take a look at what we know and perhaps I can coax out a few prognostications about where I see the camera technology business going over the next year or two.
The big camera news from Arri this year was the March announcement of the Alexa Mini LF. Yes, at first glance, big deal, Arri put a large frame sensor into their smallest camera, the Mini. This announcement is almost more notable for what it means than what the product is. This camera is Arri tacitly saying that the new reality of Hollywood and high-end production is really all about the streaming services, with the implication that up until now, Netflix has been the primary driver since the Alexa Mini LF was almost certainly created as a response to Netflix’s now-famous camera mandate that all commissioned programming must be created with cameras with at least a 4K native sensor.
As you’re probably aware, the various Alexa variants, up until the recent past, featured a native 3.4k imager, not high enough resolution for Netflix evidently. The creation of the Alexa Mini LF shows that Arri can still be nimble and responsive to market requirements, even though Arri has used basically the same imager over the past nine years. This camera’s existence also shows that the OTTs (Over the Tops – Netflix, Amazon and Hulu) have collectively equaled or possibly surpassed the traditional Hollywood studios in importance for most content creators.
While Blackmagic Design is impressively growing the depth and breadth of their offerings to form an end to end production pipeline with cameras, converters, recorders and an editing suite of software with the release of Resolve several years ago, the latest news was the announcement of the Ursa Mini Pro G2 (Generation 2) and just this past week, the new Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. The UMP G2 is significant in the improvements it brings to the existing UMP. They redesigned the electronics and added a new S35 4.6K image sensor with 15 stops of DR as well as the ability to shoot at up to 300 fps.
The new Pocket Cinema 6K Camera brings some new updates to the existing PCC 4K. Not only can the new camera record up to 6K resolution, it also features a S35 sensor as well as a new Canon EF lens mount, different than the 4K version’s M43 sensor and lens mount. The 6K features dual native ISO with up to 13 stops of DR, internal Prores recording up to 4K and Blackmagic RAW at up to 6K recording. At only $2,495, the PCC 6K will be a nice companion B camera for UMP G2 users.
Canon has been conspicuously absent in releasing any new professional digital cinema cameras in 2019. The sole Canon camera announcement was in February for the EOS RP, a lower cost, less featured version of the Full Frame EOS R mirrorless camera, more of a consumer hybrid camera than a pro digital cinema camera. No new C300 MKIII, C500 MKII or any other new surprises this year so far. There are rumors about Canon possibly introducing something new at September’s IBC tradeshow in Amsterdam, but at this point, those are just rumors.
Canon has been one of the top three camera manufacturers in digital cinema over the past few years, so their non-announcements are probably a reliable indicator of the overall growth potential of the digital cinema market. Or they could just be laying low? Canon recently went through a round of layoffs at Canon USA’s Melville, NY US HQ and closed their large service center in Jamesburg, New Jersey. These obviously aren’t indicators of a healthy, growth-focused company division, so take that for what it’s worth.
The main reason I’m including Fujifilm in their analysis is that with the 2018 announcement of the XT-3 mirrorless, IMHO, Fuji has jumped over the wall separating still cameras from digital cinema cameras. The addition of their MKX Cine zooms reinforces this notion. As you probably know, Fuji also makes various lines of high-end digital cinema lenses, as well as B4 mount broadcast lenses, so in my mind, these factors move Fuji into the digital cinema camera realm.
The video/digital cinema-focused XT-3 has been a solid hit for the company, instantly jumping into the mix, representing between 20 and 30 percent of sales for Fujifilm—very impressive for a new product to instantly become almost one-third of the company’s sales. The addition of the medium format GFX 100 with 4K recording at up to 4K 30p, as well as the addition of the X-Processor 4, means that even though this is more of a still than digital cinema camera, I have the feeling Fuji may have a pro digital cinema camera in the pipeline. The company has an interesting philosophy in keeping the XT and XH cameras using a S35 sensor with the GFX lineup using a relatively huge medium format sensor and no cameras in between utilizing an FF imager.
Nikon is a DSLR and mirrorless company, right? Yes and no. The introduction of the video-capable Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras wouldn’t be that significant if it wasn’t also for the announcement from Atomos that they partnered with Nikon to figure out a way to record RAW video directly from the HDMI output of the Z series to the Atomos Ninja V. Considering the relatively low cost of the Z6 especially, the idea of pairing a low-cost Atomos recorder with a relatively low-cost mirrorless camera fired the imagination of lots of different users.
Other than the recently announced BMD PCC 6K and the existing PCC 4K, no other mirrorless-style, small cameras are capable of RAW internal video recording or output a RAW stream to external recorders like the Ninja V. Yet.
The problem is the Atomos/Nikon announcement in January 2019 was over eight months ago; it’s August 2019 and there has been no update or release date about when this marriage of the Z cameras and the Ninja V will actually happen. In the meantime, RAW recording in low cost self-contained mirrorless-type cameras is happening elsewhere. Nikon may be too late to the party.
Over the past couple of years, it’s been an interesting case of Panasonic’s consumer (Lumix) and professional (professional/broadcast) camera divisions sort of taking turns in introducing products that interest pro digital cinema camera users. Of course, the GH5 and subsequent introduction of the GH5S came from the Lumix division. The cameras are very good mirrorless, video-centric designs with a still impressive specification and feature list. The Pro Video division then introduced the EVA 1 professional digital cinema camera at the same time Canon introduced the C200.
The EVA 1 has some amazing features for the price range but has been hamstrung by its lack of a viewfinder, usable LCD and internal RAW recording. It does have a 5.7K sensor and can record in a plethora of codecs. The Lumix division introduced the FF S1 camera last year, but they were a bit more aimed at still shooters than video, although both of the variants are pretty video capable and feature the L lens mount that Panasonic and Leica designed. At Cine Gear 2019, the Lumix division introduced the S1H, a 6K FF video-centric variant that will sell for $4,000 and will be available in the fall of 2019. An interesting factor is that the Lumix S1H is a mirrorless hybrid that very much out specs the more expensive pro video EVA 1, yet sells for $2,000 less.
Video camera design at the house of Panasonic has had a big year. The rest of the lineup, the Varicam series haven’t had any new model variants introduced this year, although Panasonic did give the Varicam LT a huge discount from its selling price, down to $9,995, but to put together a fully usable, functional package, you still need to add an EVF, P2 Express cards, etc. which puts you back up in the $20k to $28K price bracket, depending on the options and amount of P2 media you need.
Let’s just bring it right to the forefront: If you’ve been following what’s been going on over at RED, it’s been an insane 2019 to date. There haven’t been a lot of new camera announcements from RED this year although they’ve just teased something called the Komodo, which it appears is a camera module for the Hydrogen cell phone/camera? Not sure yet, as all they have released are teaser images with a few words. RED also released a rental-only camera package known as the RED RANGERTM. Basically, it’s a camera system that’s all-inclusive and all included. As you may or may not know, when you rent a RED camera system, it’s very much similar to how we used to rent 16mm and 35mm film cameras, meaning that you rent a basic body and then customize your rental with any of several dozen accessories that are configured in various ways to result in a camera package that’s custom configured for your needs whether that’s for handheld, tripod, slider, Steadicam, drone, vehicle mount, etc.
The end result of this is that usually when I’ve rented RED packages, the paperwork is several pages long and I have to keep track of dozens of smalls bits and pieces that combine to make a RED camera functional for my particular use. The Ranger comes preconfigured with a top handle, PL-Mount, rod brackets, 7-inch LCD, power supply, etc. Many of these pieces are integrated into the Ranger body rather than having to be attached via hex screws to the basic RED “shoebox” form factor that their camera brains come from the factory as.
The insane factor has been the entire RED Mini Mag debacle. I don’t have room to recount it here in all of its glory, but let’s just say that a third party has publicly accused RED of some false advertisement and misleading public statements having to do with RED media, the SSDs contained within them and the money that RED charges for their proprietary media. In my opinion, RED’s response to these accusations has been a good example of how NOT to respond to a public accusation, there have been lawsuits and threats of lawsuits flying from both sides and in the end, a lot of RED customers have been, at the least, confused about what RED has said and sold as their proprietary media and at the most, furious with the company.
The entire issue has been a bit of a media circus, just Google “Red camera media” and you’ll see what I mean. It’s difficult to say if this is just a bump in the road for RED or if it may come to mean something more serious for them. Time will tell.
2019 has been an interesting year for the Sony Pro Video division. In a way, Sony has behaved in a very similar manner to competitor Canon. They haven’t really introduced a new digital cinema camera this year. They did release a V3.0 firmware update for the Venice that adds two new imager modes, 5.7K 16:9 and 6K (full-width) 2.39:1. Later in the year, they released the 4.0 firmware, which added 4K 120 fps and 6k 60 fps.
Sony also just released the A7R IV mirrorless, but all of its innovation was centered on still photography, with its video still hobbled to 2014 standards of 100 Mbps 4:2:0 8-bit internal recording to protect sales of the Sony FS5 MKII and FS7 MKII. There has been a rumor of a new video-centric A7S III for years now, but nobody outside of Sony knows when that camera will drop or if it will be in 2019. So basically, business as usual at Sony.
As the new kid on the block, Z cam is the latest Chinese camera manufacturer to try to make inroads into the U.S. market. I’ve never personally shot with a Z Cam camera, so I have no first-hand knowledge of their image quality, responsiveness, features or reliability.
I’m able to glean a little information from their press releases and from one colleague who purchased one of their cameras for professional use, so I can make the following observations about them and their cameras.
They’re aggressively pursuing market share against the established big three camera manufacturers (Canon, Panasonic and Sony). This is apparent from their expanding lineup, their availability at a lot of U.S. dealers and their kind of unusual form factor and robust feature sets at relatively low cost.
Z Cam currently offers two models of M43 imager cameras currently, the E2 and the E2C. The E2 is a $1,999 M43 shoebox camera with impressive specs, meaning that when you buy the camera, you literally just get a box with an imager inside. You must furnish a battery, media, EVF, handles, baseplate, really everything needed to make the “box” into a functional camera for your shooting situation. Apparently, some people like rigging up what are known as Frankenrig cameras, meaning that the end product is going to be festooned with cables dangling and weird ergonomics, depending on how well you understand camera ergonomics and can buy the right accessories to end up with a compact, ergonomically viable rig.
An observation, most people don’t and end up with a weird, Rube Goldberg (Google it) contraption with a camera buried in all of the Gak (Gak is a Hollywood term used to describe various messy cables, batteries, plates and rods that especially DSLR and mirrorless cameras are often rigged up with, but any camera package can have excess Gak). If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and like having to shop for a bunch of disparate accessories and try to make them into a workable pro camera rig, have at it. Personally, I dislike camera rigs that are like this; I find that the ergonomics are mostly terrible and the cables snag on everything you walk past or operate near, which can result in losing footage. Others, like RED operators, seem to like the “shoebox with tons of GAK” model. Your mileage may vary.
I’d like to offer my observations and predictions about where professional digital cinema camera tech is headed and what to watch for as you navigate the murky waters of production for the rest of this year.
The mania for FF continues unabated, especially in the higher-end cameras. Doesn’t matter if you like it or not. Collectively, the industry and users have decided that if it’s not FF, it’s nor worth buying in 2019. Other than in the low end of the market where cameras like the Z Cam E2, even though it’s M43, continue to sell a lot of units.
You can’t ignore the facts. Fact: no manufacturer other than BMD has introduced a new mid-range ($5k-$12k) digital cinema in 2019. No FS7 MKIII. No EVA 1 MKII. No C300 MKIII. BMD did introduce the UMP G2, which is really just a slight update to the UMP, not a whole new camera. Interestingly, all of the action is at the high end (Alexa Mini LF, RED RANGER, VENICE Upgrades) and at the low end (Panasonic Lumix S1H, Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema 6K). What does this mean? I honestly think it could mean that a lot of users who used to buy the mid-range cameras are either stepping up to the high end with rentals and “slumming it” down at the low end, simply because these new low-end cameras offer such tremendous value and sophisticated features for the money. The $4,000 Panasonic S1H has better technical specs than the more expensive EVA 1. The $2,495 Pocket Cinema 6K has better technical specs than the more expensive UMP G2. Notice a trend here?
I know it has for me. Our A camera is the (used to be) $7,500 Canon C200. When we went to buy a new b-camera/gimbal camera, we didn’t spend another $5,000 on a C200B, we spent $1,399 on a Fujifilm XT-3 simply because the XT-3 is so good for the money and offers so many impressive features and specs for a prosumer mirrorless camera. I personally doubt if I’ll ever buy another mid-range camera. I’d rather rent high-end cameras, and it’s fun for me to see how far I can push a prosumer camera like the XT-3. Sure, the C200 is a better camera, but it should be for five times the cost. The XT-3 can do 85 percent of what the C200 can do, save for RAW, internal NDs, real audio connections and the client impress factor with its appearance. But the Fuji was inexpensive, works pretty well for video and the output is close to that of the C200, even though the C200 RAW is better.
I’ll go ahead and say it, 2019 is the year the number of lenses available, both still and cine, went nuts. Almost every day there’s a press release for a new optic or new optic company waiting for me in my email. I’m not complaining, this is the best time we’ve had for lenses in the history of our business. No matter what your taste is, you can find multiple lines and brands of lenses that can give you whatever look and optical characteristics you seek.
It seems as if the bar has raised from 4K with the masses fully convinced that in order to optimize 4K, because of the image loss through De-Bayering, you have to have a 5.7K, 5.9K or 6.0K sensor. Strictly from a techno nerd/imaging engineer standpoint, it makes sense. In the real world, though, my Canon C200 has a 4k imager and I have yet to shoot anything with the camera, especially with Cinema RAW Light, that suffers from any mosaic artifacts, low resolution when viewed on a 5K screen or other optical anomalies. So, like everything in our business, there’s the theoretical, which at times you or your audience may or may not notice, then there’s the reality of what your clients and their audiences may or may not see.
It seems that going forward, I doubt if you’ll see many, if any at all, new digital cinema cameras that aren’t at least 6K native. It’s what is hopefully the end of the resolution wars, but I suspect those will go on at least until 8K and possibly might end at 12K or 16K? Who knows for sure?
I hope you’ve found this blog interesting and perhaps a little fun. In 2019, we’re at a place with professional digital cinema cameras where they’re literally all at least decent and the vast majority are really impressive. We’re definitely spoiled with options—a nice place to be.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K is a groundbreaking camera in features and in price.
I recently attended the webinar that Blackmagic Design held to make four new products announcements. I have to admit that I didn’t know what Blackmagic Design was planning on introducing, so I went into the webinar with a clean slate without any pre-conceived notions about what they were going to intro. The rumor sites and grapevine had been basically silent about much new coming from Blackmagic Design, so this webinar was looking to be quite interesting. I wasn’t wrong; the announcements were significant and kind of covered a wide swath of product categories, both in hardware as well as software.
As you’re probably aware, the big buzz from Cine Gear 2019 was Panasonic’s announcement of the S1H, a 6K FF mirrorless camera that will be available in the fall of this year. It will utilize Panasonic’s relatively new L lens mount, it’s 6K and has a lot of other tricks up its sleeve. The excitement was that the S1H looked to be the first native 6K camera in the $4,000 price range. Impressive, right? It looks as if Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty and company figured out a way to steal a lot of Panasonic’s thunder with the announcement of the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. It will sell for, wait for it…$2,495! Wow, kudos to Blackmagic Design, that’s a pretty impressive headline just for including the words Cinema, 6K and $2,495 in one breath. The other bullet points are:
A bit more about the rest of those 6K imager specs, it will shoot up to 50 fps at 6144×3456 16:9 or 60 fps at 6144×2560 2.4:1 and 60 fps at 5744×3024 17:9. For higher frame rates, you can shoot up to 120 fps at 2.8K 2868×1512 17:9. You can even work in true anamorphic 6:5 using anamorphic lenses in 3.7K 60 fps at 3728 x 3104.
Best of all, the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema 6K Camera is available now. Kudos to Blackmagic Design for announcing a shipping camera.
On to the next product announcement.
Blackmagic Design also announced DaVinci Resolve 16.1. The new features are focused mostly on the new cut page, which Blackmagic Design is continuing to work on in their goal to make it the world’s fastest editor, which as a FCP X user, I think they have their work cut out for them to claim that title as currently FCP X is by far the fastest editor on the market, followed closely by Resolve and AVID Media Composer with Premiere at the back of the pack as far as sheer editing speed.
Changes in the bin now allow customers to place media in various folders and isolate clips from being used when viewing clips in the source tape, sync bin or sync window. Clips will be seen in all folders below the current level, and as customers navigate around the levels in the bin, the source tape will reconfigure in real-time. There’s even a menu for directly selecting folders in a customer’s project.
DaVinci Resolve 16.1 Features:
I personally can’t wait to put the “Boring Detector” through its paces. DaVinci Resolve 16.1 public beta is available now for download from the Blackmagic Design website.
As you may or may not know, Blackmagic Design has a long history in building all kinds of cool, interesting and useful video convertor boxes of various types that do all kinds of cool, interesting useful things if you need to interface with, you know, real video tools like switchers for live television, projectors, recorders and other hardware.
At $995, the UltraStudio 4K Mini is essentially a tool that gives you hardware connections to the outside world for editing, archiving from legacy old broadcast video decks (do you ever need to access HDCAM or formats like DVCPro or Digital Betacam?), outputting broadcast graphics to a switcher or even, most relevant for 2019, live streaming for webisodes, webcasts, Facebook Live and other streaming kinds of things. What has enabled all of this input/output power has been the advent and almost standardization of Thunderbolt 3.
Some key features of the UltraStudio 4K Mini:
All in all, it seems like a pretty useful box that many users will find appealing for doing all kinds of different and unusual video workflows.
Blackmagic Speed Test has been an industry-standard tool that many of us have counted on to check system data throughput for years. If you set up a new RAID and want to benchmark, the Blackmagic Design Speed Test has been an invaluable testing tool to get a real-world measurement so you know your new RAID’s speed capability.
Blackmagic RAW Speed Test is a CPU and GPU benchmarking tool that users can use to test the speed of decoding full resolution Blackmagic RAW frames on their system. Multiple CPU cores and GPUs are automatically detected and used during the test so that customers get accurate and realistic results. Simply select Blackmagic RAW constant bitrate 3:1, 5:1, 8:1 or 12:1 and the desired resolution to perform the test. Although Blackmagic RAW Speed Test will run multiple resolution and frame rate tests on their system, customers can also select a specific test resolution to run on the main meters and the test will continue to run constantly, allowing stress testing of host computers.
Blackmagic RAW Speed Test Features:
While not a huge new product innovation, the new Blackmagic Speed Test is a welcome new version that updates the older version with new tools and new capability. Also, it’s free on the Blackmagic Design website, which is very cool—who doesn’t like free?
I don’t claim to be the Oracle of the video industry, but these new product announcements seem to indicate a few new ideas that occur to me about Blackmagic Design and their role within the industry. It’s 2019, and we have to acknowledge that video production is going through a lot of change right now. As predicted for the past few years, today we have amazingly sophisticated and capable products available that can do things that were inconceivable just a few short years ago.
What’s astounding is that we’re not only able to choose from all of these very capable products from dozens of different companies, we’re able to buy them for next to nothing. Products like the new Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema 6K camera must be giving the strategists and designers at Canon, Sony and Panasonic a lot of sleepless nights. I’d seriously question if it’s even worth introducing as many new cameras as these companies have in the past when the price floor is going so low for such high-end features. Sure, it doesn’t have built-in NDs and TC i/o exactly (although it does work with external TC generators like the Tentacle Sync Es!), but each new camera seems to include more and more professional-level features, so much so that the lines are blurring between consumer/producer and professional cameras quite a bit.
If you’d have told the average person in production that the hottest cinema camera in 2019 was a 6K capable, tiny, lightweight removable lens body that could record Prores at up to 4K and Blackmagic RAW at up to 6K, nobody would have believed that was possible. When you’d have told them that all of this could be had for a mere $2,495, they’d have shaken their heads. That’s significantly less money than a camera back accessory cost for your average cinema camera sold in 2010; for that money, you get the entire camera, add battery, lens and a media card and you’re shooting. It’s amazing.
The other thing that I see Blackmagic Design doing is taking a page from the Apple playback of yore—they’re not becoming a camera company, and they’re becoming a system solution provider. Think about it, what other company in pro video/digital cinema makes the camera you shoot with, the editing software suite you edit with, the hardware interface that lets the editing program communicate with, ingest and playback almost any video format for live production, streaming and webcasting. They even make the benchmark software you use to optimize your GPU, CPU and drives/RAIDs. As far as I can think of, there’s no other company out there doing this, it’s smart, clever and makes great business sense. For the user, it’s a great benefit, Blackmagic Design is integrating their own version of RAW that works in their editing suite and there are several new features in Resolve that are specifically targeted to make it appealing to shoot with their new 6K, inexpensive camera.
It’s difficult to say what happens next in our business, but Blackmagic Design is making some bold moves that will put them into a powerful position against their competition. While I haven’t had my hands on the new Pocket Cinema 6K camera yet, I look forward to giving it a try and seeing what it can do for my own production pipeline. I’ve already been spending time in Resolve, so I look forward to trying out V16.1 too. Video production and digital cinema are headed into uncharted waters as far as the economic model, rates are down, production budgets are down, although the volume of production is up. Blackmagic Design has given users some valuable, affordable new tools to use in the reality of what’s happening in production.
Photo by Brooke Shaden
Female photographers and filmmakers who are looking to expand their skills by working with a mentor, as well as getting funding and gear, still have time to submit to Sony’s Alpha Female “creators-in-residence” program, which is in its second year.
The deadline for the contest is August 20.
This year, Sony says, the “Alpha Female contest will recognize a total of six award winners: four in the category of Photography and Videography, and two in the category of Filmmaking/Cinematography.” The winners will also receive educational opportunities and invitations to specially organized networking events, which is in addition to project funding and Sony gear. (You don’t have to currently shoot with Sony gear to win.) Mentors will also be selected from Sony Artisans.
Contest applications and official contest rules for the Alpha Female Creator-in-residence Program are available at www.alphauniverse.com/alpha-female
For more information, see the press release below.
[[ press release ]]
Winners to Receive $21,000 Project Budget, up to $5,000 in Sony Gear and Industry-renowned Mentors
SAN DIEGO — August 5, 2019 —Sony Electronics Inc. today announced contest applications are now open for the second Alpha Female Creators-in-residence program.
Launched in summer 2018, Alpha Female is a program that provides extensive resources and opportunities to advance the careers of female photographers and filmmakers. In 2019, Sony is renewing the initiative and remaining firmly committed to promoting diversity and fostering the growth of all voices in the photography, videography and filmmaking industries.
In the successful inaugural year of the Alpha Female program, five women were selected from more than 6,000 contest applications to participate in the creators-in-residence program, each receiving a prize package that included financial support for personal projects, along with an assortment of Sony camera gear and a mentorship with one of Sony’s female Artisans of Imagery.
“This program inspired me to push myself further than ever before, while also opening so many doors for my career,” said 2018 Creator-in-residence winner and award-winning wedding photographer Megan Allen. “My work is light-years ahead of where it was seven months ago, and my clients are thrilled with the results.”
This year’s Alpha Female contest will recognize a total of six award winners: four in the category of Photography and Videography, and two in the category of Filmmaking/Cinematography. In addition to project funding and Sony gear, each winner will receive educational opportunities and invitations to specially organized networking events throughout the program.
“Alpha Female is a way for us to bring talented female creators out of the shadows and into the foreground in an industry where they are too commonly underrepresented,”said Neal Manowitz, deputy president of Imaging Products and Solutions at Sony Electronics. “We are continually inspired by their work and are proud to offer our support.”
Winners of the Sony Alpha Female award program will receive $21,000 and up to $5,000 in Sony equipment to help fulfill their creative projects, as well as access to additional loaner equipment to help bring their artistic vision to life.
Each winner will be paired with a successful Alpha Female Artisan photographer or filmmaker—women who have all been paving the way for the next generation of women creators. These mentors will impart wisdom and professional knowledge, helping winners to elevate their craft and career to new heights.
The Alpha Female mentors are among the most talented photographers and filmmakers in the industry. Supporting mentors of the Alpha Female program include Amber Baird, Brooke Shaden, Caroline Jensen, Cristina Mittermeier, Jean Fruth, Katrin Eismann, Marvi Lacar, Me Ra Koh, Nancy Borowick, Sara France, Taylor Rees and Zabrina Deng. Final mentors will be matched according to each winner’s needs and creative style.
Contest applications and official contest rules for the Alpha Female Creator-in-residence Program are available at www.alphauniverse.com/alpha-female
A variety of additional content related to Sony’s “Be Alpha” campaign, including articles, videos and events, can be found at www.alphauniverse.com/BeAlpha
The post There’s Still Time To Submit For Sony’s Alpha Female Contest For Photographers and Filmmakers appeared first on HD Video Pro.
Just recently, an amazing thing happened to me. Not one, not two, but three different clients within a two-week period requested that we shoot their project in 4K RAW. Big deal you say? It actually is a big deal and in this blog, I’m going to focus on why this represents an actual global mind shift, at least for our clients. Frankly, compared to the feedback we were getting before this on what formats our clients wanted us to shoot, the whole thing has left me feeling like I’m living in a parallel universe. It’s like that Seinfeld episode where Elaine meets three doppelgangers for Jerry, George and Kramer who are the same yet completely different in attitude and actions (if you can’t tell, I’m a Seinfeld fan and go through life assuming that most other people in Western Civilization have also watched the show, weird, huh?) In the episode, Jerry tells Elaine about the existence of a Bizarro world where everything is the opposite of the reality that you know.
For years, I’ve been trying to convince our clients of the value in shooting their projects in RAW. When I shoot still photography, I have been shooting RAW files for as long as I could remember but for video, shooting RAW, until fairly recently, was an expensive endeavor in both budget and time. It’s still is to a point, but the bar has been rapidly falling as media costs, storage costs and computers and editing software become more and more common. Our clients mostly have clients who are the studios in the PR/Marketing and Home Entertainment departments and even today, most of these clients are very conservative as far as preferring 1080 over 4K or anything greater resolution. We typically shoot a bunch of long interviews for these clients’ projects. A good portion of this footage is shot green screen, so I’ve been trying to get our clients to move to shoot RAW, especially for when we shoot green screen.
Which of these two formats that our camera shoots do you think would be better for shooting great green screen footage?
As an editor who occasionally composites, the 12-bit footage would allow for pulling much cleaner and smoother composites without a doubt.
There’s a considerable cost to shoot RAW footage though. That cost can be broken down into two categories, media and editing/archival storage cost and time.
To give you an idea of the media costs that it takes to shoot RAW, of course, it varies with the camera. On the high end, cameras like the Panasonic Varicam 35, the Canon C700FF, the RED lineup and the Arri lineup are all capable of shooting RAW 4K and in some cases, up to 8K.
As an example, if you use the Canon C700FF, the add-on Codex RAW recorder costs you about $7,000. Plus, you need to add on another $7,000 per 2 TB storage drive. And don’t forget another $5,700 for the Codex drive reader. All in, you’ll pay an additional $20k-plus to shoot RAW on that camera. If we go down the line to the C700FF’s little brother, the C200, the economics to shoot RAW change considerably. The C200 shoots a fixed 5:1 compression ratio Cinema RAW Light format to CFast 2.0 cards. In the beginning, a little over a year and a half ago, these cards were pretty expensive, but since then, because there are now so many other cameras that can shoot the same cards, economies of scale have kicked in and you can buy a 256 GB CFast 2.0 card for as little as $149.
If I can buy a 256 Gb for $149, how long of a recording will that card hold? With it’s fixed data rate of 1 Gbps, the C200 will record 34 minutes of DCI 4K to the 256 GB card. A 256 GB SD card for the C200 won’t record 4K RAW, but it will let you record 4K (UHD) XF-AVC at 160 Mbps, but that recording will be 8-bit, not 12-bit and will not work very well for green screen compositing. The XF-AVC recording is 6.2X smaller than the CFast 2.0 recording though.
One other thing you should consider is the time it takes to download and clone these RAW files. To shoot 34 minutes of XF-AVC, I can download the footage to a drive in about 3 to 4 minutes whereas 34 minutes of the Cinema RAW Light footage takes between 24 and 28 minutes on average. You can see how, if you’re shooting hours of long interviews in RAW, it’s easy to fall behind and possibly run out of cards to shoot to. This has been the other major factor that has, until recently, soured our clients on letting us shoot at least some of their projects in RAW.
I attribute a few factors to our clients’ recent change of heart about letting us shoot at least some of their projects in RAW. The first being that storage drive costs have continued to fall. We recommend the Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8 TB drives that have been available at Costco for as little as $129 on sale, less than $18 per GB, which is quite incredible. The drives are name brand, as reliable as anything else on the market and while not fast enough to serve as a good editing drives, they are an excellent value for storage drives to hold client footage. We always insist on a minimum of a double backup for all footage and highly recommend triple backups for crucial projects, with at least one set of media being stored at an alternate location from the main drive(s). The cost of storing RAW is now pretty minimal for clients.
The other big factor has been simply picture quality. We make sure to light green screen properly, but even with perfect lighting, pulling clean composites can be challenging with blonde hair, hair that’s thinning with the green screen shining through it, the view through lenses of glasses and other challenges like this. Having 12-bit 4K makes compositing much less of a problem-solving exercise as the 12-bit, when properly exposed, gives you an incredibly robust signal to work with. Clients have seen the value in better-quality footage and now seem to be willing to spend the extra time for us to shoot RAW, download it to their media and for the extra time it takes their assistant editors to convert the media to proxy for off-line editing.
As a cinematographer, shooting the best quality format and resolution makes me happy because it gives clients the most options to do what they need to with the footage. Shooting RAW makes clients happy because it results in fewer headaches with quality, being able to adjust white balance after the shoot and they can archive essentially what becomes a digital negative, just like we used to do with physical negatives in the days of shooting film. Shooting RAW isn’t the ultimate panacea for all problems, and it’s not right for every workflow, but it’s definitely worth considering if you’re trying to differentiate your work and the value you can add to clients, studios and distributors.
Finding the right monitor to use for your main edit app monitor can be a bit daunting. I want good color accuracy, the right inputs and something that’s easy to customize for my environment. I had the opportunity to run with a BenQ PD2720U display for a few weeks. I was able to see how it fit my needs as a monitor running various applications from edit to graphics to color.
First a few details about the monitor. BenQ—pronounced “ben-cue”—is a Taiwanese company that has been making monitors since the mid-90s and professional series displays since 2014. Their PD series of monitors are designed for precise color accuracy.
The BenQ PD2720U is a 27-inch 4K UHD IPS LCD panel. (IPS relates to how the LCD “pixels” are arranged.) IPS was developed to help with off-axis viewing and color fidelity. The display includes BenQ’s “Low Blue Light” and “ZeroFlicker” technology to help reduce eye fatigue. While not something I could test, I understand eye fatigue problems since I view displays all day long.
For video inputs, it has two Thunderbolt 3 connections so that you can connect a second 4K display, a DisplayPort (1.4) connection and two HDMI (2.0) connections. Beyond the video connections, there’s a built-in USB 3.1 hub.
The monitor comes with a well-designed stand that allows for tilt, swivel and 90-degree rotation. The stand includes a nice cable management loop that keeps cables in order even when height and rotation are adjusted.
There’s also a remote control (BenQ calls it a Hotkey Puck G2) that’s attached to a special USB port. This allows you to control the monitor without having to reach behind the unit to feel for various buttons.
Now, on to my experience using the BenQ PD2720U. Setting up the display was easy, and the stand felt sturdy. The cable management loop seems like a small thing, but when you have clients facing the back of your monitor all the time, organized cables are great.
The overall design of the display—very thin top and side bezels—kept my focus on the image display. I also appreciated the ease of switching to portrait display (yeah, I know, portrait!) when working with content destined for “the socials.”
I mentioned before that color accuracy is on my checklist for monitors. Out of the box, the BenQ PD2720U comes calibrated and has the documentation to prove it.
BenQ has teamed up with Portrait Displays to implement “Verified by CalMAN” to assure that the display meets published specs. As far as color gamut, the display covers 100% sRGB, 100% of Rec. 709 and Adobe RGB and 96% of DCI-P3. You can even split-screen gamuts to compare.
While I don’t have access to the more advanced spectroradiometers, I did use CalMAN’s C6 colorimeter to confirm the Delta E (essentially, color accuracy), which was 1.21 in this case. The higher the number the less color accuracy there is. I look for a value of under 2.
The BenQ PD2720U can accept HDR10 content, but its brightness only reaches 350cd/m2 (nits). If you need to max out at 1000 nits for HDR10, you have to take that into account when setting the display for HDR mode.
Speaking of setting modes, I got to like the Hotkey Puck. It was easy to get to settings. No reaching around feeling for buttons and joysticks. This also made switching inputs quick.
Sometimes I work on projects where my workstation has to be completely disconnected from any network and I have to use a second computer for some prep work. I can connect both to the BenQ PD2720U and use the Hotkey Puck to quickly switch between the two.
So, after using the display for a few weeks, I came to respect the color accuracy, the flexibility of inputs and the mechanical design. Oh and the Hotkey Puck. The BenQ PD2720U fit right in on my desk.