The Digital Bolex has stumbled into the world. It is alive. Now it must find a place for itself. Most importantly of all – is this new replicant Bolex actually convincing?
Time to find out.
The Sony AX100 takes the relatively large 1″ sensor from the RX10 and puts it in camcorder form factor with built in ND filter. However it appears that in reading out all the pixels on a 20MP sensor, Sony have created a skew-monster in rolling shutter teams. What’s remarkable about this video is that the panning and trains aren’t even moving very fast. This is some of the worst rolling shutter I’ve yet to see on any camera available on the market.
I decided to get my hands on a Nikon D4S at a local store in Berlin, to see if the much hyped ‘new image processor’ gives a real improvement in video quality. Nikon have made a lot of marketing noises about this ‘HD-SLR’ and video. It’s a camera which according to their management “started out as a small update but became much bigger”. Hmm.
This isn’t a comprehensive review of the D4S, rather it seeks to answer one simple question that Nikon themselves so far have been dodging. Has video got better on it?
Already we have 2 affordable 4K interchangeable lens cinema cameras due and we’re only a month into 2014.
Red Dalsa created the first 4K cinema cameras and these were first shot with on set in 2006 (The Dalsa Origin – Wikipedia)
Since then the rate of progress needed to commercialise such powerful hardware and sell it to consumers for $2000 in the case of the GH4 and $4000 for the Blackmagic Production Camera has been relatively speedy. Quicker than the time taken for full frame DSLRs to break the $2000 price barrier. Red never did succeed in making an affordable 4K cinema camera for the masses or a DSLR replacement.
Neither camera is entirely finished yet but I’ve seen footage from both the new cameras and shot with their predecessors for much of 2013. Here’s my opinion on how their strengths and weaknesses are going to work out…
Based on a pre-production model
Since the GH1 I have been shooting with Panasonic’s mirrorless system for video. Without this series of affordable cameras my early work as a cinematographer and filmmaker simply wouldn’t be the same. The GH4 marks a much needed major leap for the line, the first to shoot 4K to an efficient internal codec AND output 10bit 4:2:2 1080p over HDMI to an affordable external recorder like the Atomos Ninja!
On a visit to Panasonic I got to see the camera, see 4K sample footage and give my feedback. Here’s an account of what I saw…
This blog has been going 4 years now and to be honest I have run out of interesting things to say about the current DSLRs. It’s time to upgrade.
2014 will be a big overhaul for image quality on DSLRs. Even those who don’t need the extra resolution 4K offers will change their minds when they see what’s coming.
You see, 4K isn’t really about resolution at all… It is the catalyst for a massive leap in overall image quality, especially on consumer cameras.
Can Olympus survive? The scandal is over, but sales are faltering. Their prized position in the mirrorless market is threatened by a revitalised Sony and their Alpha range. This supersedes the high end of the NEX line (and dispenses with the NEX brand altogether); bringing full frame sensors to the table and in the case of the A7R – 36MP and nearly 14 stops dynamic range.
My full review of the Sony A7R is coming soon, ditto for the E-M1.
Until then let’s take a look at how the top of the range mirrorless cameras perform head to head – not just at video but stills too.
Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty has revealed he approached camera manufacturers in 2011 with the idea of producing a DSLR-style model with high dynamic range and increased video quality but was turned down.
“They don’t care about the product. Their only goal is to extract as much from the business as they can. It’s incredibly short-termist, and greedy”.
So now we have the truth of the way manufacturers think about DSLR video.
It’s a distraction!
Clearly the purist section of the photography industry wants to take us back to the stone age. Video quality has been very low down the list of priorities at Canon and Nikon over the years. And Olympus, and Fuji.
Now, even fashion accessories are prioritised above video capture as the Nikon Df dispenses with it altogether!
Engaging the uninterested general public with dedicated cameras was never going to be sustainable – not with smartphones around.
But I think the decline of consumer DSLRs will actually be the best thing to happen to photography and video in the digital era.
Finally companies will have to get innovative, putting more weight behind enthusiast and pro orientated camera line-ups.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera is a wake-up call to the bigger manufacturers and their afterthought video modes.
Canon’s competitors are waging a miniaturisation war against DSLRs. The Sony RX1 is not a DSLR replacement but Sony’s same technology is building towards a full frame mirrorless system.
This mouthwatering prospect may well turn up in Berlin this September at the IFA show where the NEX 7 was launched some years ago.
George Clooney is a canny operator. The director and actor has launched a tirade at the hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, now a major stakeholder in Sony, who is campaigning to have the profitable Sony movie business partially sold off.
Clooney says it is becoming more and more difficult to get films like Argo green-lit – echoing the concerns of other top talent in Hollywood.
Above: my EF mount camera with Iscorama 54 and ReWo BMCC cage
UPDATE. Cameras are now in stock in the US at the new prices of $1995 -
At Hot Rod Cameras
At B&H Photo Video
Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty has today mapped out the company’s camera roadmap.
According to CIPA, Japanese shipments of cameras are down 47% year-on-year.
That’s a bleak figure, although there aren’t the kind of big product releases so far this year that there were in the first half of 2012.
However I think it’s too easy to blame smart-phones or to mention product cycles as the reason for this decline. What about the actual cameras? In my opinion everyone seems to be making strange product decisions that I doubt serve either shareholder or their customer.
Raw video recording on the 5D Mark III has been met with an overwhelming reception from users and a fantastic reception from most pros. Some are more guarded as they think their camera will blow up. What are the facts?
In the battle of the 1080p cameras, the game has changed. Here’s how the 5D Mark III in raw recording mode compares to the best 1080p output from the Canon C300 and 1D C.