Category: Opinion

A7S would be beautiful with the Canon 50mm F1.2L

This began as a 10 point list. It grew…

I am huge fan of the 1D C’s image but not the camera itself and especially not the price. The 1D C when it was introduced offered an absolutely lovely image and still does but now the playing field is rapidly changing.

Exactly how does the Sony A7S compare on paper to the 1D C?

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Nikon D810 HD-SLR video features

Along with such disappointing video quality on both of Nikon’s flagship models the D4S and D810, it’s suggested by some that Nikon do not care about video on DSLRs because it is a small market. They make stills cameras! Video is a tiny niche. And so it goes, on and on (from people on photography forums and not actual working pros)…

So I was surprised to see 34 mentions of “video”, 14 mentions of “cinema” and 10 mentions of “broadcast” in Nikon’s official press release for the D810.

That compares to just 18 mentions of “photographer”, 4 mentions of “photography” and zero mention at all of the words “still” or “stills” in the entire release.

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What’s the ultimate cross-breed camera of 2014? If we take all the strong points of the manufacturers and put them in one camera, what do we get?

  • Full frame sensor from the Sony A7S
  • 4K internal codec from the Panasonic GH4
  • Big EVF from Fuji and their lovely X-T1
  • 5 axis in-body stabilisation from Olympus (working for video with any lens)
  • Cine lenses by Sigma – their 35mm F1.4 and 50mm F1.4 are that good
  • Bundled grading / editing software from Blackmagic - Resolve 11
  • Ergonomic styling by Fuji

I’m very sorry but I couldn’t think of a single class leading technology that Canon and Nikon have brought to the market in the last few years to complete my dream camera!

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Blackmagic Production Camera 4K sample - no FPN noise

Above: my sample showing no fixed pattern noise in low light at ISO 400 on the Production Camera – it’s all about the grade

Almost all Blackmagic Production Camera users have experienced fixed pattern noise – a banding effect or grain texture over the image – and they are quite upset at Blackmagic over the issue. But is the fixed pattern noise problem on the Blackmagic Production Camera a case of faulty cameras OR is it a limitation of the spec?

This is a complex issue and every user seems to report something different. However in my own experience with the camera and of looking at the experiences of others I have to say that all units look to perform in the same way. It is a limitation of the spec, not a case of a large number of faulty units being shipped out.

Yet many users – over 200 of them – are now putting pressure on Blackmagic to acknowledge a hardware or quality control ‘fault’ and to do hardware replacements. Sorry but I just don’t think this is right.

It is best to look at how to handle the camera in order to avoid the FPN in the first place…

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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.

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According to a professional DP, Canon may in fact have some excitement for us in store at NAB. (Important to note this is a rumour and may just be speculation on behalf of my source).

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YouTube Preview Image

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.

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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?

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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…

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gh4 and external HD-SDI XLR unit

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…

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Canon 1D C

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.

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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.

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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”.

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EOSHD weekend report - Nikon Df and Canon Cinema EOS

The gap between Nikon beginning the Df concept and putting it on sale was 4 years.

Are camera manufacturers moving too slowly?

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nikon df

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!

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EOSHD weekend report

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.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and Fuji X100S and Sony RX1

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera is a wake-up call to the bigger manufacturers and their afterthought video modes.

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Canon 5D Mark III and Sony RX1 size comparison

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.

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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.

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Blackmagic Cinema Camera - anamorphic rig

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

Full Blackmagic range – both EF and mFT cameras now in stock

At Adorama

Blackmagic Cinema Camera with EF Mount

Blackmagic Cinema Camera with Micro Four Thirds Mount

At B&H Photo Video

Blackmagic Cinema Camera with EF Mount

Blackmagic Cinema Camera with Micro Four Thirds Mount

Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty has today mapped out the company’s camera roadmap.

  • The Blackmagic Cinema Camera has a new aggressive price point. A drop of $1000 to the price of a Canon 6D – $1995.
  • Next firmware V1.5 will add new features
  • The first sensors for the 4K Production Camera only arrived this week

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The EOSHD Panasonic GH4 Shooter's Guide
The EOSHD 5D Mark III Raw Shooter's Guide
The EOSHD Sony A7 Series Guide to Full Frame Lenses
The EOSHD Panasonic GH3 Shooter's Guide
The EOSHD Anamorphic Shooter's Guide - Second Edition
More EOSHD Guides