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Compact hybrid system for travel documentary type fun


Phil A

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Dear forum,

you will think this is another „which camera should I buy“ thread… and it is, but bear with me, it might get better. My personal finance minister agreed to me throwing money at my problems so here we go. To make it a bit more legible I’ll segment my extra-long wall of text.
 

My motivation to revamp my equipment:

Due to logistical reasons I’m standing in front of the task to minimize AND optimize my equipment. I’m normally travelling once every 1 to 2 months for work and/or private pleasure and used to shoot a lot of pictures in my spare time on these trips, but since a while I’m doing more and more video things. I have already shot photography with a lot of different camera systems, currently I’m using Nikon with the D750 and it fulfills every photography dream I could have BUT the video side isn’t satisfying the gearhead in me (there I said it, it’s not really a NEED but a WANT) since I tried the movie recording of the Samsung NX1.
Seeing how we have at least 3 interesting trips lined up for the next 6 months I’d like to get my stuff together so I can actually finalize and if necessary “learn” the equipment before we fly to Spain in March.


What do I want shoot:

Directly up front: I have no ambitions to ever get anything broadcasted or cinema or whatever, it is web-delivery only and therefore the quality horizon is 1080p delivery via VIMEO / YouTube. It’s mainly travel / landscape / urban lifestyle imagery so it’s shooting the landscape while traveling a country, exotic beaches, cultural sightseeing like temples in Thailand, night market type of things, etc. Due to the nature of business trips, a lot of the things happen in the evening and obviously it’s more of a travel documentary type shooting, i.e. I won’t be able to light anything and have to rely on practical lighting.

Thanks to travel limitations on luggage I will be limited to roughly one system (or two really compact systems) with ~2-4 lenses, external monitor, tripod/monopod with head and the regular accessories like NDs, Grad NDs. I wouldn’t mind spending on a small gimbal stabilizer once the compact ones like the Beholder, Nebula, etc. had their kinks ironed out, compensating for the fact that I probably will never be able to lug a slider, jib, etc around. This also makes 4k a nice to have as it lets me fake slider moves (granted, without the desirable parallax effects), punch in from medium to light tele, etc.

In addition we do quite some food photography which we would like to extend towards shooting short clips for our Instagram feed (stop laughing!) and blog. Obviously nearly every camera would be ok for this as we can light and repeat to our hearts’ desire so this is only a side comment and I have the slow motion for that covered with the NX1.

What cameras did I consider:

I’ve tried hands-on with some cameras (D750, D5300, NX1, 5D II, 5D III, G7) and did hours over hours of VIMEO research but man is a lot of stuff badly graded, getting away from the computer you’re suddenly shocked our world isn’t actually all Osiris M31 teal-orangey or FilmConvert grainy, soft paleness. I also graded some test footage I found online but that was of varying quality and some had botched white balance, etc.

I love the Samsung NX1; I clearly appreciate its image, it’s super easy to get nice colors and skin tones out of it. It’s modern, pleasing and sharp which I personally feel suits this kind of footage well. BUT there are multiple reasons why I’d rather not stick with it which are the limited low light capabilities in combination with no speedbooster availability, the fact that it doesn’t work with my field monitor (SmallHD can’t say if firmware incompatibility will ever be fixed [I have that one already], VideoDevices can’t even say if the PIX-e are compatible at all and it seems no one else makes a 5” that stacks up to those two) and to a very minor point the fact that the system can’t cover the autofocus lenses I’d like to use for photography. I might keep it as a B-cam seeing how cheap I got it, especially how it could cover 120fps easily, but I’d rather have another main system.

I’ve seen clips made with the BMPCC like the ones from Jonathan Haring (https://vimeo.com/99501007 or https://vimeo.com/98293797 ) with really good sharpness and nice colors but most of clips out there are just too soft for my taste, I have the feeling so much footage of the BMPCC is over the top soft because it’s “cinematic” and intentionally looking retro in a low quality kind of way. While the BMPCC is no low light beast, the combination of f/1.4 lenses plus speedbooster and malleable files would make it easily work I think. I’d replace it or mate it with a BMMCC as soon as that would be available for the 60p and global shutter. My main concern is that the 1080p Super16 bayer sensor doesn’t actually give me better resolution and inherent sharpness than the current D750, the colors are obviously top. Obviously these aren’t hybrid systems so I would add something compact on the side like a Fuji X-T1 with a 35mm f/1.4 or perhaps even just stick with my X100s. 

Of course nothing leads around considering Sony A-series when looking for a hybrid system at the moment. I’m a bit surprise how the high frame rate capabilities lack so far behind the Samsung in regards to having to apply additional crop for the read out but on the other hand the low light capabilities are everything one might ever dream of. Good low light, respectable dynamic range. Quite pricey but there are enough advantages that I wouldn’t mind to spend the money. Probably the worst offender when it comes to awful grading on VIMEO, it seems most of the really pleasing (e.g. Nomads of Mongolia) and well done footage isn’t actually done in S-LOG and therefore already gives away a lot of dynamic range again (which most viewers anyway don’t seem to actually pay attention to). I’d probably give the A7r II the advantage over the A7s II because the only thing the A7s II does better is even more extreme low light above ISO 12800 while the A7r II has the two crops for 4k, PDAF and higher resolution stills.

For this kind of shooting I ruled out the Canon 5D III with Magic Lantern because I can’t repeat moments, it has only the mediocre LCD screen and it’s just too expensive for what it does in my opinion (still nearly 2000€ used here) even though the colors are beautiful. I’d prefer to not have to tinker around with the system.

I know that the Panasonic GH4 is theoretically a strong contender, especially with speedbooster or the Voigtländer f/0.95 lenses, but I just don’t know. I feel no magic around that system. G7 is out because of the HDMI limitations.

Last but not least I’ve of course considered the Canon C100 II or Sony FS5 but I feel like they’re not ideal for my plans as they’re already a bit bigger than the other systems while needing a separate photography equipment. They’re also less stealthy as they’re easier recognized as camcorders while directly stretching the budget thin without giving.

I’ve tried to separate what I want (everything!) into what I need and what I just would like to have.

Need to have:
- detailed and sharp 1080p (as end result)
- 50p/60p
- Good internal recording, I don’t want to go extern and then mix external & internal in post
- small form factor (C100/FS5 would stretch it already)
- clean 1080p out over HDMI for field monitor
- acceptable low light quality (light level equivalent to  f/1.4 with 1/50 at ISO1600 is minimum necessity, clean higher ISO is better)

Nice to have:
- 10bit
- 4k
- 100p/120p
- EVF
- Shoots pictures so I can stick to one system
- cheapo underwater housing / EWA-marine for snorkeling available

 

I feel like the Sony A7r II would actually be my best bet. It does 4k 8bit 4:2:0 internally, has IBIS, is acceptable until ISO6400/12800, can use a speedbooster in APS-C mode to get another stop of light, I can use the SmallHD501 with sidefinder on a cage as EVF for better stability (cradling camera against body), with the monitor straight on the tripod or go bare body for even less attention. It does amazing stills to replace even the D750 and thanks to the FF & APS-C 4k modes I could cover 4 field of view with only 2 lenses (e.g. FF 35mm & 85mm, APS-C 55mm & 125mm).
I have the feeling it’s the reading too many forums that makes me think the 4k 8bit is insufficient and I need the BMPCC’s grading latitude and the Sonys are abominations when it comes to color.

Tl;dr:
I need a lightweight system for videos and photography on documentary style traveling clips: BMPCC, A7sII/A7rII or something completely different?
Renting is out of the picture, I want to own the system. 

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I used a GH4 for about 2 years and really loved the quality.  however, hauling around a DSLR system with tripod, head and slider was just too much for travel purposes.  so, when I took a trip to phoenix to shoot a short doc about Taliesin West, I picked up a gopro hero 4 and a handheld 3-axis gimbal (zhiyun Z1 Pround).  while the gopro has no zoom capability, using this setup completely changed my approach to short doc videos, from the static tripod approach to POV with a moving camera.  the gimbal still allows nice smooth pans and tilts, and also allows smooth moving footage.  shooting in 4K allows good cropping and zooming in post to bring in details.  yes, I miss having some zoom capability but overall, the portability of the gopro and handheld gimbal (easily fits in a small messenger type bag and weighs almost nothing) for travel purposes has completely replaced my DSLR/tripod system.  you can see some of my vids on youtube if you are interested in what kind of results this little system can give - here is one I did about Depoe Bay, Oregon -

 

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Get a LX100. As a famous Dutch designer would say: 'It's the art of leaving away stuff'. It's a no excuse camera 'oh, I'm just going on a short stroll; no need to bring all that gear' -> oppertunity of a lifetime has to be taken with your smartphone! 'Not sure what lens to use... this one... or this one... argh, the choice!' -> one lens to rule them all! No choices, no hassle, no excuses!

Sure. I get you want a little bit more freedom and flexibility too, because in the end the lack of choice can still be restricting and compromising quality and look. Well, what other lovely addition to a Panasonic camera than another one? The GH4? You'd probably get a 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS with that. Or scratch that and get either the E-M5II or E-M1. Get one as a kit with the excellent 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO. People have shot impressive stuff with those combos! The in-body stabilization! You can now adapt vintage primes (e.g. HELIOS 44-2 58mm f/2) or a SLR Magic Hyperprime CINE 25mm T0.95 for example and shoot stabilized footage! Olympus glass is of great quality. The 75mm f/1.8 is a real treat! Get yourself a Cullmann Magnesit Copter mini tripod and a RatRig V-slider Dual Mini. Don't even take much more and just focus on experiencing instead of carrying stuff around. Especially if it's web content, then you've got to deal with compression of your hosters anyways. And people will watch the footage on their smartphone or tablet. So here you are with the most sick quality setups in the end making hardly any difference and the average viewer who's not a pixel peeper seemingly only cares about the content! Damn you average viewer! When does good become good enough?

... just one way you could do things of course... ;)

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I just ordered an LX100 (arrives tomorrow) for similar reasons. 4K video, nice stills and very versatile lens. Also easy to throw in a bag or jacket pocket and not have to worry about extra lenses and such. Probably much cheaper underwater housings available for it than the other options you mentioned, as well. 

 

Not necessarily an endorsement since I haven't actually used it yet, but seems to tick a lot of the right boxes

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Do you enjoy the process as much as the product? I have an A7s and it's superb for aurora shooting. But it's "horrid" to use (with Shogun and v-loks). The BMPCC on the other hand is something I rather enjoy using. It's simple and elegant and gives you something you can play with (ie grade etc.) back home. And you will be carrying it with you at all times. To me, a lot of the enjoyment is the process - the product isn't the sole or even primary goal.

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This doesn't fit any of your image quality criteria, but since you said the word "fun" I thought I'd mention the EM5II.  In no way does it exceed the IQ capabilities of other cameras, but I just can't help enjoying shooting with it.

Fun for me is being inconspicuous while being able to shoot cool shots on the fly.  (A camera with a wrist strap)  What Snowfun mentions above is a great point.  

Regardless, the EM5II appeal is an sort of an intangible thing.  I'm not even that fond of the menu system, but I do like using the camera.

I've shot corporate gigs with it next to a GH4.  For web delivery I felt like it cut together fine; more than fine, really.

And the things you can do with video and that 5-axis stabilizer, that's fun too.  You could almost forgo taking a tripod, depending on the type of footage you're trying to get.  I think it now sells for $800 new.  I also have 3 vintage Pentax A110 prime lenses for $75 and I think they look really great with the EM5II.  Of course, numerous other lens options exist.  Getting good, fast, and cheap glass mounted to a speed booster will give one impressive low-light ability too.

If that's a huge priority, I'd consider the A7s. The older version used is $1500.

Most cams shoot pretty good video these days.  If you think a particular strength of a camera, such as stabilization or low light, is a perfect fit, then invest in that capability.  Otherwise, seems like you could just stick with what you have and do just fine.

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For really good travel videos shot with the Blackmagic Pocket, check out Gunther Machu's work:

IMHO, there is no other camera this size that comes close in video image quality. However: The Pocket is not a convenient travel camera, since you need to have IR cut filters in front of the lens, need to carry more batteries (and have opportunity to charge them), need to carry higher capacity SD cards (although 256 Sandisk Extreme Pros are now much more affordable at around 150 Euro, and will hold about 1 hour CinemaDNG footage or 150 minutes ProRes HQ), need to have external audio recording equipment (unless you use the Ohrwurm2 mic), and have a very limited choice of stabilized lenses (only Panasonic MFT zooms with no real wide-angle coverage on the BMPCC) and can't shoot handheld without a stabilizer/rig. An LX100 or Olympus EM (with its uniquely good in-body stabilization) clearly beats it in terms of shooting convenience.

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I think I'd heard the rx100iv is a stop or two better in low light than the lx100, plus it has better slow mow, log, and the 5 minute 4k limit doesn't sound like a dealbreaker for you, with the great 1080p it has. Plus it's a little smaller than the lx100.

The pocket is awesome. With a speedbooster and boosting the raw maybe, it's not bad in low light at all (or at least meets the 1600iso minimum requirement for sure). I do think the 1080p from it is more detailed than the d750. Some people have used screengrabs from the bmpcc video as stills. So depending, that could maybe cover both bases as well. I just saw a really cool test with a tool in resolve to get great high speed slow motion out of a blackmagic camera by messing with the 24fps. If you want to go that route, slow mo might not be a downside of the pocket very much either.

The panasonic gm~ are pretty cool too. Basically super portable gh3s (as far as image quality) with better low light by a stop or two. Not the MOST detailed, but nice. Not sure about using a monitor with it either

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First I'd like to thank you all a lot for your input. I really value the different ideas and think it's not even surprising to see how many different perspectives there are, we have access to a lot of good tools that can work.

 

20 hours ago, jnorman34 said:

I used a GH4 for about 2 years and really loved the quality.  however, hauling around a DSLR system with tripod, head and slider was just too much for travel purposes.  so, when I took a trip to phoenix to shoot a short doc about Taliesin West, I picked up a gopro hero 4 and a handheld 3-axis gimbal (zhiyun Z1 Pround). 

I have read up about GoPros a whole while ago but an action camera doesn't really fit my needs. I might actually pick something up for snorkeling instead of an underwater housing, seeing as how typically want wides for that, but I wouldn't want to use it as my only system as I don't want the fisheye "all in focus" look for my complete stuff but would use quite some tele.

20 hours ago, Cinegain said:

Get a LX100. As a famous Dutch designer would say: 'It's the art of leaving away stuff'. It's a no excuse camera 'oh, I'm just going on a short stroll; no need to bring all that gear' -> oppertunity of a lifetime has to be taken with your smartphone! 'Not sure what lens to use... this one... or this one... argh, the choice!' -> one lens to rule them all! No choices, no hassle, no excuses!

Sure. I get you want a little bit more freedom and flexibility too, because in the end the lack of choice can still be restricting and compromising quality and look. Well, what other lovely addition to a Panasonic camera than another one? The GH4? You'd probably get a 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS with that. Or scratch that and get either the E-M5II or E-M1. Get one as a kit with the excellent 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO. People have shot impressive stuff with those combos! The in-body stabilization! You can now adapt vintage primes (e.g. HELIOS 44-2 58mm f/2) or a SLR Magic Hyperprime CINE 25mm T0.95 for example and shoot stabilized footage! Olympus glass is of great quality. The 75mm f/1.8 is a real treat! Get yourself a Cullmann Magnesit Copter mini tripod and a RatRig V-slider Dual Mini. Don't even take much more and just focus on experiencing instead of carrying stuff around. Especially if it's web content, then you've got to deal with compression of your hosters anyways. And people will watch the footage on their smartphone or tablet. So here you are with the most sick quality setups in the end making hardly any difference and the average viewer who's not a pixel peeper seemingly only cares about the content! Damn you average viewer! When does good become good enough?

... just one way you could do things of course... ;)

Thank you for the idea with the LX100. I've never had that on my radar but I think then I'd directly go for the GH4. I think I might have some unreasonable grudge against that camera and I can't even really put my finger on the why. People complain about the uncinematic, videoish, digital look... which I think is totally fine for what I would do. It's the weakest system when it comes to low light though because even the BMPCC when using the dedicated MB Speedbooster seems to have more lattitude there.

In photography I have 3 clear needs which I cover which is the 35-50mm and 75-100mm area with f/1.4 or f/1.8 lenses, that's why a compact won't be able to replace all my gear. I think I shouldn't have put the "fun" into the subject because I didn't want to imply that I'm looking for as small as possible, I don't mind lugging a backpack with camera, a few lenses, tripod and filters, it's just that I can't justify a Ursa Mini or Red One level system where camera + 1 lens + 1 battery is already like 5kg (with the related bigger tripod, bigger fluidhead/ballhead, etc.).

19 hours ago, Snowfun said:

Do you enjoy the process as much as the product? I have an A7s and it's superb for aurora shooting. But it's "horrid" to use (with Shogun and v-loks). The BMPCC on the other hand is something I rather enjoy using. It's simple and elegant and gives you something you can play with (ie grade etc.) back home. And you will be carrying it with you at all times. To me, a lot of the enjoyment is the process - the product isn't the sole or even primary goal.

I clearly do, I'd say it's 50/50. I'm also willing to work around the gear if the result is worth it but I hate when I feel like the gear actually works against me. I enjoy shooting landscape stuff with graduated NDs while on sticks, long exposure photography, etc. so I'm not always on the run. Even the editing is part of the enjoyable process for me, I have no deadlines so I can spend hours tinkering with my material until it's finalized. I mainly shoot to satisfy my own expectations, which is also why I'm surely considering higher end gear than I would necessarily need.

I've seen your polar light video that you've posted in the "Shooting" section. Incredible what today's consumer gear can achieve, isn't it? I can see why you would say the BMPCC is more enjoyable than the A7s... there's just less to fiddle and configure. It's more limited but has what is necessary.

19 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

This doesn't fit any of your image quality criteria, but since you said the word "fun" I thought I'd mention the EM5II.  In no way does it exceed the IQ capabilities of other cameras, but I just can't help enjoying shooting with it.

Fun for me is being inconspicuous while being able to shoot cool shots on the fly.  (A camera with a wrist strap)  What Snowfun mentions above is a great point.  

Regardless, the EM5II appeal is an sort of an intangible thing.  I'm not even that fond of the menu system, but I do like using the camera.

I've shot corporate gigs with it next to a GH4.  For web delivery I felt like it cut together fine; more than fine, really.

And the things you can do with video and that 5-axis stabilizer, that's fun too.  You could almost forgo taking a tripod, depending on the type of footage you're trying to get.  I think it now sells for $800 new.  I also have 3 vintage Pentax A110 prime lenses for $75 and I think they look really great with the EM5II.  Of course, numerous other lens options exist.  Getting good, fast, and cheap glass mounted to a speed booster will give one impressive low-light ability too.

If that's a huge priority, I'd consider the A7s. The older version used is $1500.

Most cams shoot pretty good video these days.  If you think a particular strength of a camera, such as stabilization or low light, is a perfect fit, then invest in that capability.  Otherwise, seems like you could just stick with what you have and do just fine.

What is your perception regarding the footage when you have to grade it? I had the impression that the EM5 II really struggles with blowing highlights, even more so than the GH4 and NX1. The IBIS of the Olympus' is obviously next level, even better than the one in the A7 IIs, but I don't want to sacrifice too much image quality for ease of use. I guess low light would be roughly on par with the GH4?

You're right, in the end every camera has typically roughly 1 outstanding strength and 1 weakness. So it's about chosing the best compromise. I guess I'm searching the forum's blessing that my train of thought is correct and I'm not making some fundamentally flawed plan. Everyone I know here only shoot photography and not video/movies so it's hard to spar the thoughts against them.

15 hours ago, cantsin said:

 

For really good travel videos shot with the Blackmagic Pocket, check out Gunther Machu's work:

IMHO, there is no other camera this size that comes close in video image quality. However: The Pocket is not a convenient travel camera, since you need to have IR cut filters in front of the lens, need to carry more batteries (and have opportunity to charge them), need to carry higher capacity SD cards (although 256 Sandisk Extreme Pros are now much more affordable at around 150 Euro, and will hold about 1 hour CinemaDNG footage or 150 minutes ProRes HQ), need to have external audio recording equipment (unless you use the Ohrwurm2 mic), and have a very limited choice of stabilized lenses (only Panasonic MFT zooms with no real wide-angle coverage on the BMPCC) and can't shoot handheld without a stabilizer/rig. An LX100 or Olympus EM (with its uniquely good in-body stabilization) clearly beats it in terms of shooting convenience.

Of course I've seen his clips before, too. I really like them. What I think is interesting is that he switched to the A7s II for the newest videos and it's really obvious in the look of his movies. It's more modern and clean but I think also his BMPCC footage is really good and more "analytic" than most of it. His "Paintings of Umbria" video ( https://vimeo.com/103172085 ) is one of the main reasons why I ever considered the BMPCC. The dynamic range of that clip with the foreground and the clouds is what I love in landscape photography and I (wrongly?) attributed that to the combination of BMPCC dynamic range and the grade-ability of the high bit depth recorded material. On the other hand I could replicate that with graduated ND filtration and any camera, but yes, I'm deeply impressed by that video.

14 hours ago, Liam said:

I think I'd heard the rx100iv is a stop or two better in low light than the lx100, plus it has better slow mow, log, and the 5 minute 4k limit doesn't sound like a dealbreaker for you, with the great 1080p it has. Plus it's a little smaller than the lx100.

The pocket is awesome. With a speedbooster and boosting the raw maybe, it's not bad in low light at all (or at least meets the 1600iso minimum requirement for sure). I do think the 1080p from it is more detailed than the d750. Some people have used screengrabs from the bmpcc video as stills. So depending, that could maybe cover both bases as well. I just saw a really cool test with a tool in resolve to get great high speed slow motion out of a blackmagic camera by messing with the 24fps. If you want to go that route, slow mo might not be a downside of the pocket very much either.

The panasonic gm~ are pretty cool too. Basically super portable gh3s (as far as image quality) with better low light by a stop or two. Not the MOST detailed, but nice. Not sure about using a monitor with it either

Thanks for the input. I guess I'd really gravitate towards the RX100 iv over the LX100 but as I said, I don't actually want to replace my whole system with a compact. On the other hand the RX100 iv could be a good B-cam to a possible A7r II as they somewhat share the image characteristics (if you ignore the part coming from the lenses) and it could replace the NX100 for the slow motion. There's also cheap underwater housings so I guess a A7r II + 2 lenses + RX100 iv (+ UW housing) could also make sense.

I'll think some more about all the valuable input you guys gave me and also make some pro & con list. I'll also do short playlists of my favorite content of each system and show it to my significant other and see how she feels about it without all the techy sentiments in head.

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I think the battery drain of BMPCC would make the "fun" factor less. I'm waiting for the Micro and once I get it in my hand my NX1 will become a pure photo camera. I'm not sure whether I'll get the MFT system for photos though, it's so compact and compatible with the Micro, of course the image quality is great as well.

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I have a brick for my BMPCC that gives about 12 hours shooting and negates that issue a bit... the internal battery makes the system good for travelling, i find.

Eg... I will have two batteries to give me about 50 mins shooting in my kit bag, then whenever we are moving from place to place... I plug the camera into the brick that is in my main backpack and it charges again, ready for the next location. If I am going into the unknown, the brick comes with me... if I know the location and can gauge how much time I will need to get my footage, I might leave the brick in the car or at the accommodation etc.

The Micro should sort that issue out anyway though, and add slow-mo.

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15 minutes ago, gsenroc said:

I think the battery drain of BMPCC would make the "fun" factor less. I'm waiting for the Micro and once I get it in my hand my NX1 will become a pure photo camera. I'm not sure whether I'll get the MFT system for photos though, it's so compact and compatible with the Micro, of course the image quality is great as well.

I'd rather have the Micro than the Pocket too, but then I'd like to have it before summer. The BMPCC could stay as a B-cam if the Micro comes out, except for the body and cage everything else would be fully compatible (I anyway have LP-E6 batteries for my monitor). The batteries for the BMPCC are luckily not only small but also dirt cheap.

I've seen an offer for a BMPCC, 5 batteries, speedbooster and cage for 1650 €. So I could add a BMMCC and a Fuji stills camera and would hit the cost of a A7r II with cage and additional battery. Not easy, working on the pro & con list as we speak... also considering just sticking it out with the D750 until the BMMCC is available.

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One thing I will add.... If you are travelling to places you will probably not return to, IQ should be top of the "pros" list... There is nothing worse than getting back and looking through some 8 bit, 4:2:0 junk. As someone who traded up their 5DIII for an A7s, I speak from experience... I traded up image quality for tech specs and regretted it.

I know you have ruled out the 5DIII Raw.... But it might be worth a rethink... You will look back at those raw files in years to come and still feel satisfied with the look and quality. Same with Blackmagic.

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15 minutes ago, Phil A said:

What is your perception regarding the footage when you have to grade it? I had the impression that the EM5 II really struggles with blowing highlights, even more so than the GH4 and NX1. The IBIS of the Olympus' is obviously next level, even better than the one in the A7 IIs, but I don't want to sacrifice too much image quality for ease of use. I guess low light would be roughly on par with the GH4?

Highlight rolloff is not as good, but in my opinion it's only marginally "not as good."  If you're  pixel peeper, then you'll also notice the the EM5II isn't as good as a LUMIX.

I have two other Pany cams and they shoot better video, but I hardly ever film with them anymore. 

Since I like to shoot with the camera, and the stabilizer let's me get fun creative shots while handheld, the "neat-o" use of the camera outweighs the inferior IQ.  But again, like you, I'm sending most of my stuff to web video and that's kind of a IQ equalizer.

I'd suggest giving it a try for a day or so.  You never know.  Sometimes a piece of gear just feels right...or not.

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Phil, how much gear do you want to lug? Travel kit means different things to everyone, for some its a RX100, for me everything fits in a messenger bag, so my gear will not slow me down. IBIS/OS is a must for me, I want everything to be stabilized to some degree. For me Sony's E-mount cameras are the best stills/video options at the moment, but there are great lenses at all my favorite FL's. For some Sony's lineup is really lacking, though speedsters and AF adapters open up hundreds of AF lenses if you get the A7rII and the upcoming a6300.

That means 2 bodies, and 4 or 5 lenses tops, along with a Ride Videomic pro for audio and a small LED and reflector for more light or a fill. Right now I have the A7rII, the A7s and a5100 that will soon be replaced by the a6300. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the new 24-70 GM which will cover about 80% of what I shoot when you include the crop mode on the A7rII, and f/2.8 is a good mix of speed with a decent shallow DOF on the long end. The a5100 usually has the 10-18 as my UWA, so I'm changing lenses less often and they share batteries meaning I'm not carrying chargers for two different cameras. I have the 28/2, 24/1.8 and Batis 85 as fast/light lens options with the B85 being my shallow DOF king. I typically don't carry a tele because that's a lot of weight/space for a lens I'll only use about 5% of the time, but I have the 70-200/4 if needed. I carry a gorilla pod or a small carbon photo tripod for things like timelapses. The tripod (Benro Travel Angel) also has a removable leg to serve as a monopod.

I just picked up the Beholder DS1 and I'm not sure if its something I'll travel with often since that's a couple extra pounds and more batteries/charger I need to lug, but when I'm shooting doc footage it'll be in my bag. If the a6300 is as good as advertised I'm considering going much smaller/lighter for extended travel with 2 bodies and all APS-c lenses. IBIS and a couple 2.8 GM zooms would be nice, but Sony is focused on FF so we probably won't see that for awhile. Anyway.

If you're going 1080p for the web, the A7s is a great HD camera, used about $1400, and something like the a6300 will give you high IQ stills along with 4k and the A7s will be a low light beast that crushes everything once you go above 12800. Sony's photo apps are great, you have time-lapse, sky HDR (replaces gradual ND filters for proper long exposures without blowing out skies and such) and smooth reflection (which replaces standard ND filters for those silky waterfall shots). There are a few other's I've been wanting to try including the live view grading (kind of a LUT while shooting flat), the light painting, star trail and light trail - all can be done in post, but these apps are real time savers as you're not carrying filters, stacking and blending images, just tweaking the raw to get the final look you want. 

M43 will give you a smaller kit with some great fast lens options - and Olympus has the best IBIS around - but stills are really lacking behind Sony's FF sensor. You won't find a wider range of native lens options unless you go Canon or Nikon DSLR.

Anything Blackmagic isn't an option for me since it doesn't shoot stills and also generates some large files. ML raw is out just for storage needs, but also because even with a small lens the 5d3 isn't very compact compared to something like the a5100/10-18 and a 50mm prime. Again I travel small.

I'm going to be taking an extended trip starting later this year - my wife and I will be traveling around the world for a year and shooting a doc about the experience - so I'm trying to whittle everything down to a bare bones/covers as much as possible kit that's not too large/heavy/cumbersome. For me this means IBIS is so valuable since I really won't need anything other than a gorilla pod for support - and that's mostly to get low shots while keeping the camera off the ground.

This got a little longer than intended, lots of options and I'm still working through them myself.

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22 hours ago, Jimmy said:

One thing I will add.... If you are travelling to places you will probably not return to, IQ should be top of the "pros" list... There is nothing worse than getting back and looking through some 8 bit, 4:2:0 junk. As someone who traded up their 5DIII for an A7s, I speak from experience... I traded up image quality for tech specs and regretted it.

I know you have ruled out the 5DIII Raw.... But it might be worth a rethink... You will look back at those raw files in years to come and still feel satisfied with the look and quality. Same with Blackmagic.

I love the 5DIII RAW video image but I've read some people have still trouble with stability, there's conflicting info about the HDMI out capabilities (and HDMI out while recording RAW leading to aborting, pink frames, etc.) as well as the humongous storage needs compared to the other options. And for photography I'm happier with everything that I've owned after I had the 5D III because of better dynamic range which helps tremendously with landscape photography and pushing low light shots (even thought he 5D III was already less hideous than the 5D II when it came to banding in shadows). I'd take the BMPCC + Speedbooster over the ML 5DIII.

But it's still a really valid argument that you make. I've even written Gunther Machu on Vimeo to ask him about his feelings about his change from BMPCC to A7s II and he gave me a really interesting answer with food for thought.

21 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

Highlight rolloff is not as good, but in my opinion it's only marginally "not as good."  If you're  pixel peeper, then you'll also notice the the EM5II isn't as good as a LUMIX.

I have two other Pany cams and they shoot better video, but I hardly ever film with them anymore. 

Since I like to shoot with the camera, and the stabilizer let's me get fun creative shots while handheld, the "neat-o" use of the camera outweighs the inferior IQ.  But again, like you, I'm sending most of my stuff to web video and that's kind of a IQ equalizer.

I'd suggest giving it a try for a day or so.  You never know.  Sometimes a piece of gear just feels right...or not.

I think you might be on to something with the "IQ equalizer" comment. What good is amazing 14bit RAW if the movie compressed on VIMEO / YouTube will have banding in any case when it's back to 8bit glory? I have made my pro & con list but I think I really have to think about weighing them and not just counting. Slider shot is a slider shot, no matter if viewed on iPhone or 75" UHD TV but sharpness, colors, banding, etc. suffer so much.
Same with aliasing, if people watch the video in a window mode, you will always get bad artifacts no matter how good your material is. Everything I watch on VIMEO looks 10 levels better on my native FullHD Panasonic Plasma than on my work screen (1680x1050) were it has to be downscaled or my home computer screens (2560x1440) where it has to be upscaled. Makes me think directly of the other thread that's ongoing about how you color calibrate your system just so people watch it on their competely random system where it might look totally different.

18 hours ago, The Chris said:

Phil, how much gear do you want to lug? Travel kit means different things to everyone, for some its a RX100, for me everything fits in a messenger bag, so my gear will not slow me down. IBIS/OS is a must for me, I want everything to be stabilized to some degree. For me Sony's E-mount cameras are the best stills/video options at the moment, but there are great lenses at all my favorite FL's. For some Sony's lineup is really lacking, though speedsters and AF adapters open up hundreds of AF lenses if you get the A7rII and the upcoming a6300.

That means 2 bodies, and 4 or 5 lenses tops, along with a Ride Videomic pro for audio and a small LED and reflector for more light or a fill. Right now I have the A7rII, the A7s and a5100 that will soon be replaced by the a6300. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the new 24-70 GM which will cover about 80% of what I shoot when you include the crop mode on the A7rII, and f/2.8 is a good mix of speed with a decent shallow DOF on the long end. The a5100 usually has the 10-18 as my UWA, so I'm changing lenses less often and they share batteries meaning I'm not carrying chargers for two different cameras. I have the 28/2, 24/1.8 and Batis 85 as fast/light lens options with the B85 being my shallow DOF king. I typically don't carry a tele because that's a lot of weight/space for a lens I'll only use about 5% of the time, but I have the 70-200/4 if needed. I carry a gorilla pod or a small carbon photo tripod for things like timelapses. The tripod (Benro Travel Angel) also has a removable leg to serve as a monopod.

I just picked up the Beholder DS1 and I'm not sure if its something I'll travel with often since that's a couple extra pounds and more batteries/charger I need to lug, but when I'm shooting doc footage it'll be in my bag. If the a6300 is as good as advertised I'm considering going much smaller/lighter for extended travel with 2 bodies and all APS-c lenses. IBIS and a couple 2.8 GM zooms would be nice, but Sony is focused on FF so we probably won't see that for awhile. Anyway.

If you're going 1080p for the web, the A7s is a great HD camera, used about $1400, and something like the a6300 will give you high IQ stills along with 4k and the A7s will be a low light beast that crushes everything once you go above 12800. Sony's photo apps are great, you have time-lapse, sky HDR (replaces gradual ND filters for proper long exposures without blowing out skies and such) and smooth reflection (which replaces standard ND filters for those silky waterfall shots). There are a few other's I've been wanting to try including the live view grading (kind of a LUT while shooting flat), the light painting, star trail and light trail - all can be done in post, but these apps are real time savers as you're not carrying filters, stacking and blending images, just tweaking the raw to get the final look you want. 

M43 will give you a smaller kit with some great fast lens options - and Olympus has the best IBIS around - but stills are really lacking behind Sony's FF sensor. You won't find a wider range of native lens options unless you go Canon or Nikon DSLR.

Anything Blackmagic isn't an option for me since it doesn't shoot stills and also generates some large files. ML raw is out just for storage needs, but also because even with a small lens the 5d3 isn't very compact compared to something like the a5100/10-18 and a 50mm prime. Again I travel small.

I'm going to be taking an extended trip starting later this year - my wife and I will be traveling around the world for a year and shooting a doc about the experience - so I'm trying to whittle everything down to a bare bones/covers as much as possible kit that's not too large/heavy/cumbersome. For me this means IBIS is so valuable since I really won't need anything other than a gorilla pod for support - and that's mostly to get low shots while keeping the camera off the ground.

This got a little longer than intended, lots of options and I'm still working through them myself.

Well, I used to travel with Canon 1DsIII or 5D III with the combination of 17-40 4L, 24-70 2.8L, 35 1.4L and 85 1.2L (later only the two primes) so that was what I considered the maximum of gear that's easily movable without taking a toll on the actual trip (that fits into my camera backpack easily plus accessories), even though I usually left 2 of the 4 lenses in the hotel, depending on what was on the plan (that then did fit into my smaller sling bag). That's the kind of weight/volume I'd like to gravitate around.
With a BMPCC + Speedbooster and then 24 + 50 I would have covered every focal length I need... or respectively A7r II + 35 and 85.
I totally agree on your versatility perspective. The Sonys do a lot of things (even if people say only to 80%) while other systems do les things to a better degree so it's about balancing it. If you split photography and videography into two cameras (e.g. BMPCC + Fuji X-E2) you'd need to make sure you can use the same lenses on both systems or your kit will explode out of proportions.

I've sent a whole list of clips to my finance minister for her to review and judge. If she prefers one cameras results to the others, we will probably have a winner.

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1 hour ago, Phil A said:

I've sent a whole list of clips to my finance minister for her to review and judge. If she prefers one cameras results to the others, we will probably have a winner.

Funny. I showed her 16 clips on VIMEO for a blind test. 8 with the BMPCC, 8 with the Sony. Including landscapes, people, low light. She said all were nicely done but with some of the BMPCC clips she commented on soft image and after giving comments on the movies she was surprised when I told her that her three least favorite looking ones were all with the Blackmagic and her 3 most favorite looking ones all with the Sony. I was quite surprised myself. Gives me a certain drift to go for the "compromise system".

 

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4 minutes ago, Phil A said:

Her 3 most favorite looking ones all with the Sony. I was quite surprised myself. Gives me a certain drift to go for the "compromise system".

For what it's worth, I've traveled the world extensively for a client and she's always been partial to the Sony image and the cameras she's used over the years represent that bias.  Her aesthetic and mentality is certainly more from the broadcasting POV rather than cinematic.

She insists on 60fps, for instance.

Anyway, good luck with it all!

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2 hours ago, Phil A said:

I totally agree on your versatility perspective. The Sonys do a lot of things (even if people say only to 80%) while other systems do les things to a better degree so it's about balancing it. If you split photography and videography into two cameras (e.g. BMPCC + Fuji X-E2) you'd need to make sure you can use the same lenses on both systems or your kit will explode out of proportions.

I find it very convenient when shooting to be able to grab stills or video without juggling cameras. BMPCC uses Canon batteries, so you're charging/carrying two sets of batteries and lenses unless you're carrying a 5d3. File sizes are larger too and its not 4k. I see you've traveled with a little larger kit than I do, but not that much. You could do something like the Batis 25/85 combo and with crop mode you also have 42/127. I've owned the 35/1.4, its big and most are a little softer on one side, not a $1500 lens IMO.

I have someone that's interested in trading my A7rII for a A7sII, I'm seriously considering the swap and replacing my A7s/a5100 with the a6300, so I'll have high quality FF and crop 4k along with 120fps, IBIS on one body, and the a6300 will have blazingly fast AF and higher rez stills as I find 12 mp a little limiting with landscapes. All my batteries, chargers and lenses will be compatible across my kit and I'll still be very nimble with all my gear in a small bag that I can always carry on a plane.

Interested to see where you wind up.

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Hi there,

I produce expedition documentary movies from very very remote and wild parts of our planet with no help and of course no electricity. Places like Kombai tribes in Papua (Irian Jaya), Amazonia aborigines, Mentawai tribes in Siberut or mountain tribes in Burma and so on... Last time I made a film from Venezuela. It was a 12 days expedition to Salto Angel the highest waterfall in the world falling down from mesa Ayuan Tepui.

All was shot on Panasonic G6, very reliable camera as you can see here:

So in my oppinion I think that Panasonic cameras are more resistant than for example Sony A7SII (my friend who did expedition to South Pole with A7SII complainted a lot as it is so fragile camera not made to such tough enviroment). And for travel purposes are more resistant and easy to handle.

From my point of view I vote for Panasonic GH4 with XL speedbooster + Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 that is a travel beast :-)

 

 

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