Photokina 2016 preview and summary of the year in video so far

canon-photokina-2012

We find ourselves in the slightly odd situation of Fuji and Samsung leading the $1000-$2000 market for Super 35mm video.

2016 has been a Monty Python style debacle.

Thankfully every 2 years Photokina comes around and the last one saw the debut of the Samsung NX1. Very exciting tech!

2 years later that camera’s video specification hasn’t been bettered by any other APS-C camera and that rather perversely Samsung have chosen not to continue making it.

Only the Sony A6300 has bettered the NX1 in 2 respects – it has a proper LOG profile and is perfectly usable at ISOs higher than 1600. A shame then that it is worse in at least 5 other even more important ways – ergonomics, build quality, menu organisation, rolling shutter and most critically of all reliability (the Samsung NX1 never suffered overheating problems).

So far not a very positive story in 2016… This is why I’m excited for the Fuji X-T2 due to start shipping in September just before the show. Great ergonomics, great colour science, Super 35mm 4K sensor, enormous EVF, let’s just hope the codec holds up and rolling shutter is at a more manageable level than the A6300.

Blackmagic – they now seem to be shipping the URSA Mini 4.6K but this is a pros only camera. What is missing from their 2016, indeed their 2014 and 2015 is any kind of camera with mass consumer appeal like the original BMCC. The Micro cameras are not a proper sequel to the Pocket, again these are more aimed at pros who need a POV camera or want to rig something up to the hilt. So with Blackmagic’s consumer cameras consigned to history and the main mirrorless competitor to Sony & Panasonic tossed on the scrap-heap by the South Korean chaebol we turn to our regular saviours and bringers of good news – Canon and Nikon.

Ah.

3 minute cut off on the Nikon D5
MJPEG codec on the 1D X Mark II
Moire & aliasing faux-1080p on the 80D
No LOG profile on the 1D X II or 80D
Enormous sensor crop on the Nikon D500

Take such ridiculousness as the 3 minute cut off on the D5 and the enormous crop factor of the D500 for a start – this should never have been allowed to happen. I’d suggest a good majority of people interested in video simply wrote-off these purchases in the seconds after release. I know I did.

MJPEG continues to be the codec of choice for 4K on Canon cameras… Give me a break. The file sizes are unmanageable and it always needs transcoding. This is the codec Panasonic used as their lower-quality 720p option 7 years ago on the GH1 and subsequently dumped!

As for the Nikon D500, that 8MP sensor crop of 20MP does not a good 4K image make. 2 years ago Samsung were doing a 24MP full pixel readout in 16:9 on the NX1 from a Super 35mm sensor, so why can’t Nikon do that in 2016 for $2500?

Canon tease us with the carrot that is Dual Pixel AF but either saddle it with terrible image quality (80D) or a ridiculous codec and high price tag (500Mbit/s MJPEG on the 1D X Mark II). So I haven’t had much pleasure from it yet even though the technology has been out for AGES now, since the 70D.

This is a great shame as truly high performance semi-manual AF is the next game changer for video. Speaking of game changers, so is the Panasonic GX85’s sensor stabilisation in 4K, soon to be seen on the GH5 (in all likelihood).

I am sure Olympus too will give us 4K on the E-M1 II at Photokina. Could that camera be a competitor to the Panasonic GH5? It depends on the sensor crop and the codec as these are the areas I am sure Olympus will manage to screw up compared to the more optimised and video-centric Panasonic.

So in September which is only a week away and at Photokina on the 20th we will see –

Panasonic GH5
Canon 5D Mark IV
Olympus E-M1 II
Fuji X-T2 (available to buy)
Nikon DL fixed lens 1″ 4K cameras (available to buy)

That leaves Nikon and Sony having a relatively quiet show unless they surprise us.

The Canon 5D Mark IV is interesting but I doubt it will have the following features:

Full frame 4K mode (likely a huge crop from 30MP to 8MP)
Canon LOG
4K HDMI output

And I know for a fact it doesn’t have the following:

D750-style articulated screen
XC10’s 305Mbit XF Codec and video-optimised picture profiles

So if it is really a 2x crop EF mount camera in 4K… Oh dear…with no 4K HDMI or LOG profile, not even an EVF or articulated screen, nor a mount that can accept a Speed Booster to mitigate the crop factor, is there really any point in paying $3200 for it?

I can’t see being a more compelling buy for 4K compared to a used 1D C.

It’s a shame because Canon could quite easily have put the glorious 305Mbit/s XF codec from the XC10 in the camera along with the superb set of pictures profiles and Canon LOG. As it is the 5D Mark IV just doesn’t move things on for video based on the specs that have already come out. The only reason I’d get it is for stills and Dual Pixel AF.

So that leaves the Panasonic GH5… and since the rest is a debacle a lot rests on it’s little shoulders. Otherwise the unthinkable will happen and Fuji will walk off with the video crown of 2016, having come from the back of the field!

My big hope for the GH5 is that they put a Panasonic version of Dual Pixel AF on the sensor, and that it works with Canon lenses via the Speed Booster.

Really this camera will have pretty much everything else nailed.

In all likelihood it will have –

V-LOG included this time and not as a paid extra
Similar or better 5 axis IBIS compared to the cheap GX85
Step up in codec performance in 4K (higher bitrate and possibly even 4:2:2 internally)
Eliminate the further sensor crop when recording 4K?

If all that is the case then the GH5 is going to be mega, barring any unexpected disaster like a 30MP sensor or something else stupid. Although the sensor size is an issue for many people, the native glass for Micro Four Thirds continues to get even more remarkable (if the Leica 42.5mm F1.2 and 12mm recently announced are anything to go by). Surely the Metabones Speed Booster will continue to improve in quality as well, as that is a genuine Super 35mm look from our lenses on the GH5.

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