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Andrew Reid

Open letter to Japanese manufacturers on the enthusiast video market - improve or lose it

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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.

[url=http://www.eoshd.com/content/11256/open-letter-japanese-manufacturers-regarding-enthusiast-video-market-improve-lose]Read the full article here[/url]

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Andrew, I think you're overlooking engineering issues that are pulling the market apart, between DLSR for photos, and cameras for video.

 

A DSLR is designed to use a large sensor to get the richest color from wide angle lenses on up.  The physical constraints of diffraction and focal length cannot be marketed away.  In other words, an APS-C sized and above sensor will provide the  high resolution still photographs, better than any smaller sensor, from MFTs on down (in 4:3) aspect.

 

What that means, of course, is that you must skip sensor lines to maintain the same focal length (EDIT: 5D3 samples whole sensor to avoid this; electronic requirements may be expensive).  So DSLRs are primarily high resolution photo cameras.  If they don't skip lines they have to use crop mode which increase focal length.  Then you can get moire-less video, but again, at the cost of focal length and you put the lens under great resolving strain.

 

Yes, the MFT cameras do great video, but mostly because they use small sensors that don't skip lines and are optimized for video.  As photo cameras they are not as good as large sensor cameras, mostly because of physics (of light and sensor design).  No professional photographer would pick an MFT camera over a full-frame.  

 

I'm with you in spirit on the article.  But I think you have to temper expectations with some engineering realities.

 

I spend every day working on my 50D RAW (which you turned me onto) and an EOS-M.  The real question is whether manufacturers believe there is a market in high color depth, dynamic range in consumer equipment.  I believe there is.  I hope there is!

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I have being very impressed with what Black magic has done is just a few years in the camera market. One think I know for sure is a Black magic camera will be my next camera. I'm just waiting for when they will have this available together; global shutter, 13 stop dynamic range, 10 bit 4.2.2, 2.5k Raw, 1080 @120 fps (the more fps the better), wifi and dedicated anamophoric mode.

 

That's not too much to ask and I have a feeling it come true soon.

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Andrew, I think you're overlooking engineering issues that are pulling the market apart, between DLSR for photos, and cameras for video.

 

A DSLR is designed to use a large sensor to get the richest color from wide angle lenses on up.  The physical constraints of diffraction and focal length cannot be marketed away.  In other words, an APS-C sized and above sensor will provide the  high resolution still photographs, better than any smaller sensor, from MFTs on down (in 4:3) aspect.

 

What that means, of course, is that you must skip sensor lines to maintain the same focal length.  So DSLRs are primarily high resolution photo cameras.  If they don't skip lines they have to use crop mode which increase focal length.  Then you can get moire-less video, but again, at the cost of focal length and you put the lens under great resolving strain.

 

Yes, the MFT cameras do great video, but mostly because they use small sensors that don't skip lines and are optimized for video.  As photo cameras they are not as good as large sensor cameras, mostly because of physics (of light and sensor design).  No professional photographer would pick an MFT camera over a full-frame.  

 

I'm with you in spirit on the article.  But I think you have to temper expectations with some engineering realities.

 

I spend every day working on my 50D RAW (which you turned me onto) and an EOS-M.  The real question is whether manufacturers believe there is a market in high color depth, dynamic range in consumer equipment.  I believe there is.  I hope there is!

Can you then explain how the 5d3 does it just fine, with or without raw recording?

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I do not understand your obsession with video on stills cameras. Video is an added feature on a stills camera so how can you compare them to a BMCC that is made purely for video? Stills cameras will always be stills cameras, the video will get better as the tech gets cheaper but it will never be the main focus. We are a small market and will be treated as such.

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HI Zach. H.264 is easier because it's throwing out so much color information and is probably tuned to avoid it.  I don't see it in my D600 H.264 either. Anyway, H.264 is not our objective anyway?

 

I don't have a 5d3, so I don't know how susceptible to moire it is, but I do know that the higher your resolution the less chance you'll get it and you're talking about a camera that has the electronics to write data at a high enough rate to fix those problems.  If the camera is smart about which pixels it reads, then I believe it can avoid moire, even in full frame.

 

EDIT: That is the case, as I read here: The Canon EOS 5D MkIII does not skip lines. It reads out all the pixels before downsampling. This results in less Moire patterning and aliasing effects than were present in video from the EOS 5D MkII (which used a line skipping technique). My understanding right now is that the Nikon D800 uses line skipping, though I don't have direct confirmation of that through any Nikon source."

 

Downsampling all pixels implies large buffers and fast (read expensive, battery sucking) electronics.

 

So you're right, I need to clarify what I said.  The engineering that goes into making a great stills camera is not the same as what goes into making a good video camera.  

 

I'm not saying that cameras can't be improved.  But I do believe, all things being equal, the physical constraints I mentioned work against a one-camera solution.

 

I'm even surprised by all the negative stuff I read about the BMPCC.  I mean, a lot of people who should know better complain about the battery, screen, certain optical problems, etc.  If they're that hard on the BMPCC, how will they greet consumer cams that the big manufacturers put out?

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I do not understand your obsession with video on stills cameras. Video is an added feature on a stills camera so how can you compare them to a BMCC that is made purely for video? Stills cameras will always be stills cameras, the video will get better as the tech gets cheaper but it will never be the main focus. We are a small market and will be treated as such.

Not everyone wants to spend, or can even afford a true dedicated video system. This has been the major reason for people getting into the DSLR "revolution", as it became possible to get beautiful high res video (at the time, of course) for under $2grand and impress everyone with low light capability, DoF control and get ultra wide shots and etc. The argument of "still cameras are for photos and video for video" is the central problem here, get rid of that outdated mindset, and think that a camera is capable of doing either in great quality; that is a wonderful thing. In this day and age why does one have to carry a video AND stills camera? The 5DIII certainly can go either way, and more so the likes of the Panny GH3.

Now, there are other factors such as ergonomics, a DSLR is just better for stills because of it can held for it, while video camera have developed with totally different form factors. And getting into AF, heat dispersion, recordable media and all sorts of things. But, unless you need specific functions and features that only a dedicated video camera has for recording/editing then why not be able to fall back to a much more affordable sills camera capable of taking video, and why does the one basic thing to look for, image quality, need to suffer? From there; different FPS, recording codecs and manual controls are added and that seals it well, a few basic steps covered and a budget video shoot with light weight gear~
 

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Andrew, I think you're overlooking engineering issues that are pulling the market apart, between DLSR for photos, and cameras for video.

 

A DSLR is designed to use a large sensor to get the richest color from wide angle lenses on up.  The physical constraints of diffraction and focal length cannot be marketed away.  In other words, an APS-C sized and above sensor will provide the  high resolution still photographs, better than any smaller sensor, from MFTs on down (in 4:3) aspect.

 

What that means, of course, is that you must skip sensor lines to maintain the same focal length.  So DSLRs are primarily high resolution photo cameras.  If they don't skip lines they have to use crop mode which increase focal length.  Then you can get moire-less video, but again, at the cost of focal length and you put the lens under great resolving strain.

 

Yes, the MFT cameras do great video, but mostly because they use small sensors that don't skip lines and are optimized for video.  As photo cameras they are not as good as large sensor cameras, mostly because of physics (of light and sensor design).  No professional photographer would pick an MFT camera over a full-frame.  

 

I'm with you in spirit on the article.  But I think you have to temper expectations with some engineering realities.

 

I spend every day working on my 50D RAW (which you turned me onto) and an EOS-M.  The real question is whether manufacturers believe there is a market in high color depth, dynamic range in consumer equipment.  I believe there is.  I hope there is!

 

Interesting and true. Although I dont agree with alot of Canon's decisions your comment does make sense. Sure we can hope for all these things but it was not the design, and they dont see the benefit of it apparently from what they are releasing. So maybe its time to jump ship, go the BMCC or Digital Bolex route, or stick it out and compromise with these hybrid cameras? Its really up to us. We have so many options available now, its time to make a decision.

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Andrew, I think you're overlooking engineering issues that are pulling the market apart, between DLSR for photos, and cameras for video.

 

A DSLR is designed to use a large sensor to get the richest color from wide angle lenses on up.  The physical constraints of diffraction and focal length cannot be marketed away.  In other words, an APS-C sized and above sensor will provide the  high resolution still photographs, better than any smaller sensor, from MFTs on down (in 4:3) aspect.

 

What that means, of course, is that you must skip sensor lines to maintain the same focal length.  So DSLRs are primarily high resolution photo cameras.  If they don't skip lines they have to use crop mode which increase focal length.  Then you can get moire-less video, but again, at the cost of focal length and you put the lens under great resolving strain.

 

Yes, the MFT cameras do great video, but mostly because they use small sensors that don't skip lines and are optimized for video.  As photo cameras they are not as good as large sensor cameras, mostly because of physics (of light and sensor design).  No professional photographer would pick an MFT camera over a full-frame.  

 

I'm with you in spirit on the article.  But I think you have to temper expectations with some engineering realities.

 

I spend every day working on my 50D RAW (which you turned me onto) and an EOS-M.  The real question is whether manufacturers believe there is a market in high color depth, dynamic range in consumer equipment.  I believe there is.  I hope there is!

That exactly ;)

The only thing the BMCC shares with a mirror-less camera like the gh3 or nex-6 is the form factor.

 

We can't just compare its video performance saying "look at what you can get for 1000$ " while totally ignoring the still performances.  So looking at the pictures of your article, i see apples and oranges.

 

But i guess that's exactly what Black magic design marketing guys had in mind ;)

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It is all to do with old notions of maximising profits.

Why Japanese manufacturers still make different cameras for NTSC / PAL markets?

And why are they so stingy to pay the €5 European Camcorder tax? ( for cameras that record longer than 30 minutes.)

It is so silly. As Steve Jobs said (and Kodak proved him right )

If you don't cannibalise your sales, someone else will.

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I think the Japanese manufacturers know what they are doing. They have been here before with RED. The solution is to ride out the storm and up the stakes. This is why there was a push for 4k and global shutter To try to move the market where companies like BMD couldn't reach. However they did. So there will be a new push to an even higher level. This time it might be something like super sensors made in house.

 

The traditional way of doing things has been sell a model incrementally improve it every two years and get everyone to upgrade. That model still applies only instead of incremental change it is big changes in the short term until they can push others out where again they can practise incremental changes every couple of years.

 

I don't really think we can lobby them to change their ways. The only real answer is for firms like Kinefinity and BMD to get established and give them long term competition.

 

I guess though its all good at least now technology is moving on and not stagnating as it did for many years.

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It is all to do with old notions of maximising profits.

Why Japanese manufacturers still make different cameras for NTSC / PAL markets?

And why are they so stingy to pay the €5 European Camcorder tax? ( for cameras that record longer than 30 minutes.)

It is so silly. As Steve Jobs said (and Kodak proved him right )

If you don't cannibalise your sales, someone else will.

Not all camera manufacturers make different PAL & NTSC models. Canon used to but all their DSLRs & the C100/C300/C500 have 24p 25p & 30p. Panasonic for some unaccountable reason strictly divide up the world into 25p/50p & 30p/60p areas. It's not as though they are price gouging in PAL regions so they would worry that grey imports of NTSC cameras would impact sales. Panasonic have a 30 minute recording limit for PAL models but no limit on NTSC whereas  Canon DSLRs do have a 30 minute recording limit for all models

 

The European camcorder import duty thing is nuts. To be fair it is more than €5 as it's 4.7% of the wholesale import price but that would only amount to around €100 on a 5D3 or just €25 on a G6 or 650D. I realise that the major manufacturers are keeping the price down as the vast majority of DSLRs & CSC would sell even if they had no video function but it's a shame that they don't give users the option. Nikon sell the D800E which is a D800 without an anti-aliasing filter & I suspect that the specialist market likely to be interested in this variant is much smaller than would be interested in paying an extra €100 to get a 5D3 with no recording limit.

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I do not understand your obsession with video on stills cameras. Video is an added feature on a stills camera so how can you compare them to a BMCC that is made purely for video? Stills cameras will always be stills cameras, the video will get better as the tech gets cheaper but it will never be the main focus. We are a small market and will be treated as such.

 

You miss the whole point of the article and so typical of stills photographers....

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Manufacturers need to f*ck all this NTSC/PAL region spec off as it is NOT helping their markets whatsoever in an every changing world that is getting smaller due to better communication and travel technology.

 

Sony, Canon, JVC and Panasonic need to SERIOUS develop a camera to rival the BMPCC.

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Great write-up. I guess, there are many different things here, and, many of them are contradictory. Lets start them randomly.

 

1. I read various reports about how Japanese electronics and technology majors have decided to try and collaborate with other Japanese companies, to try and keep profits and technology within themselves. This followed Sony and Samsung fiasco, where the two companies entered into a JV for producing LCD TVs. Sony's wasn't apparent selling as well as Samsung. Also, this pushed Samsung into the next level, leaving Sony, where they started. 

 

2. Though a lot of people have issues with AVCHD, I like the fact, that, as a codec, it has such a lot bitrate. It does seem not to be too easy to color correct or grade, and, the video profile isn't too flat. But, if Panasonic and Sony really want, they could push the 24Mb codec to 100, and push it to 8 bit 4-2-2. I guess, they are not looking to do any such thing.

 

3. This whole 4k race is still a joke. Most TVs around the world haven't even graduated to Full HD, and people are taking about shifting to 4k. Its just a marketing gimmick. Once u sell 4k TVs, they create 4k cameras, then, 4k Tablets, then 4k mobile phones and phablets, and, then 4k everything else. Till, they start the whole 8k race. 

 

4. Japan still produces some phenomenal technology. Whether it wants to start aggressively selling it like Apple or Samsung, is for the future to tell. Right now, apparently, Sony, FINALLY, has got the right sense, to lower the price for its TVs. Earlier, all Sony TVs carried a ridiculous amount of premium. Sony, has decided, to price its products more aggressively. 

 

5. I also think its a superb thing, that electronic giants don't really have a monopoly, where filmmaking technology is concerned. There are many chip makers, and many component makers, for putting together a camera. This is superb for the price, choices, and, in the end, only benefits consumers. 

 

6. For many different reasons (including the size of profit margins, the time period for making technology profitable after P&A etc) for companies like Canon not really bothering to let its next generation sensors or processors tickle down to consumer cameras. 

 

7. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, with its 220Mbps bitrate, isn't exactly consumer camera. So, its also not exactly in the DSLR space, right now. And, not for quite a while. Except with ML hacks. 

 

8. I am not sure how large the filmmaking community really is. I guess, with Photographers and enthusiasts, canon must be selling a few hundred thousand DSLRs cameras a year. Indie Filmmakers, I am guessing, only constitute a very small fraction of that group. 

 

9. I think the whole idea of carrying a separate camera for stills and video, at this day and age is stupid. Especially when tiny point and shoot, and mobile phones take such good pic, and video. 

 

10. Japan doesn't care about NTSC and Pal. It has BOTH. The NTSC and PAL thing is ONLY for export, and maximising profits. 

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While off topic: Andrew, you mentioned Magic Lantern again in your post. Can you give us an update on the state of Raw video on the Mark III ? They obviously have a new file format for recording raw in camera now: MLV (Magic Lantern Video). And they use disk spanning now, using both the CF and SD card slots, achieving higher data rates. But the whole development seems very fragmented right now, with still no audio and official nightly builds not including the latest developments in raw. 

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I just think we should be happy with what we have because it's amazing and will only get better with time. Canon's "mistake" has changed everything and we should be grateful, not whining about what we don't have all the time. Yeah there are limitations but story is king and always will be, make something great and no one will give a fuck what it was filmed on. 

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