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


Andrew Reid

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That's all very nice to say, but if you really wanted to make a film you would have. Make a list of everything you want Canon to include on a $500 camera and tell me honestly, would that camera make the difference and prompt you to get out and shoot your masterpiece? I seriously doubt it, because filmmaking has very little to do with that in the first place.

 

 

There are a few things I've said in this thread that you didn't catch so I will reiterate them.  I am not looking to make "my masterpiece."  I am an amateur that is interested in filming some family moments and trips and making a very small amount of money on the side to fund the hobby.  And yes since this is not my career or what I do to put food on the table better technical results will make me more inclined to shoot and spend money.  If any manufacturer is going to sell a lot of cameras in the $500 price range they are going to need lots of people like me.  Honestly if I was doing this for a job spending $15,000 on a camera wouldn't be a problem.  Because I would use it, make money, and get my use out of it before depreciation destroyed it's value.  I just can't spend $3,000+ on a camera because I don't shoot enough to justify the cost.  In short if I needed to "make my masterpiece" $15,000 would not be a hurdle.

 

 

 

So you have a 50D and a 600D, I don't think buying yet more Canon cameras is the best way to show them how much you disagree with them...

 

Who said I "disagree with them"?  To disagree with them would imply I know whay they know.  As I said I don't think anyone on this forum knows the size of the sub $1,000 prores 4:2:2 and raw video dslr market.  I don't think anyone here knows what the margins are on sub $1,000 dslrs.  All I can say is what I want.  But I can't condem a man when I don't know his situation.

 

I bought by 600D mainly for photography.  In the photography world we have a saying.  You buy a system not a camera.  You don't dump your whole system just because you disagree with one or two bodies.  I have more invested in my lenses than my bodies.  And I don't think me buying a 50D on ebay and a refurbised 600D is a signal to Canon that everything is peachy.  Those are both firsts for me for Canon DSLRs.  The T5i is going to be a relative flop.  That will send a signal to Canon.  Besides if 50Ds are flying off ebay don't you think that's a strong signal to Canon?  I actually started a thread on this very topic.  50Ds are NOT flying off of ebay in the US so that tells Canon the market for such a thing is smaller than we had hoped.  You think a sustained bubble in used 50D prices would convice Canon to hold back raw video?!

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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-japa

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 a

Fwiw, shooting raw video on my 4 year old 50d blows the doors off anything "current" with h264. That includes my hacked gh2. Andrew is correct: the big Japanese camera manufacturers need to innovat

You lost me, you're going on about subjects that I wasn't really talking about. :)

 

My point was, if you have something ready to shoot that you think is worth shooting and that's what you really want to do, do it with whichever camera you can get, within reason obviously. When it comes to indie cinema, if you can't shoot a decent film with a GH2 or even a 550D, it's not an expensive pro camera that will solve your problem.

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My point was, if you have something ready to shoot that you think is worth shooting and that's what you really want to do, do it with whichever camera you can get, within reason obviously. When it comes to indie cinema, if you can't shoot a decent film with a GH2 or even a 550D, it's not an expensive pro camera that will solve your problem.

 

That's my point.  When you start playing in the sub $1,000 market it's not just about "cinema" or "indie cinema."  It's also about people like me.  Prosumers that aren't trying to make "out masterpiece."  If the quality of the equipment and the price point aren't there we aren't going to shoot.  I've never owned a camcorder.  But I now own a 600D and shoot on it a bit.  If Canon comes out with something better I will shoot more and more importantly to Canon I will PAY more.  You are looking at this through the lens of an indie film maker making their "masterpiece."  That is not a mass market.  Canon's sub $1,000 offerings are for the mass market.  That is all I am saying.  You need to look at the sub $1,000 market as a mass market prosumer market... at least in regards to Canon and Nikon.  Black Magic is a small operator.  They can afford to cater to niche markets.  Just like Kodak is having a hard time right sizing its film business but Ilford is quite comfortable.  Ilford is set up to do small runs.  In fact if you need a batch of an odd size of B&W film you as an INDIVIDUAL can put in an order with Ilford once a year.  If they have enough individuals put in an order they coat and cut that film.  No quesitons asked.  You can't expect Kodak to operate like Ilford.  I give both my business because they both have unique products and services.  Just as Canon and Black Magic do unique things.

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The mass market do not give a shit about DR, how gradable an image is, etc.... I doubt most footage shot by your average joe even gets edited. Canon know this, that's why they will see a facebook "share" feature get more response than a bitrate improvement.

 

My initial point was.... Don't sit waiting and hoping for the Japanese manufactures to give you your dream camera, at your dream price, to shoot a piece of work. You will have to wait years (by which time, your ideas of a dream camera will probably have changed).

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That's my point.  When you start playing in the sub $1,000 market it's not just about "cinema" or "indie cinema."  It's also about people like me.  Prosumers that aren't trying to make "out masterpiece."  If the quality of the equipment and the price point aren't there we aren't going to shoot.

 

I still don't get you... so these cameras are good enough for indie filmmakers that can use them to shoot serious narrative films, but they're not good enough for amateurs who only shoot "stuff" casually?

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That's my point.  When you start playing in the sub $1,000 market it's not just about "cinema" or "indie cinema."  It's also about people like me.  Prosumers that aren't trying to make "our masterpiece."  If the quality of the equipment and the price point aren't there we aren't going to shoot.

 

 

I still don't get you... so these cameras are good enough for indie filmmakers that can use them to shoot serious narrative films, but they're not good enough for amateurs who only shoot "stuff" casually?

 

Yeah, man.  There are a lot of pieces of equipment I'm willing to use and things I'm willing to do if someone is paying me.  If someone cuts me a $1,000 check to shoot a corporate video with my T3i I would do it.  But I'm not going to take my free time as a hobby to shoot a bunch of aliasing/moiré movies for free.  I take trips to shoot photography from time to time.  I take a tripod and multiple film and digital cameras.  I just am not as inclined to do much video stuff because the quality is not quite there except on my 50D and then there is the whole raw workflow.  Time is on my side.  I have the luxury of waiting until I can get something better at an attractive price point.  I have no pressing commercial or career reasons to rush out and drop $1,000 on a kludgy camera.  If someone is trying to break into Hollywood they are in a different market.  That's all I'm saying.  People are happy with their iphone videos.  If you want to shift them over to Canon/Nikon dslrs you are going to have to knock their socks off.

 

I'm just speaking anecdotally and telling you my experience.  I know people shot award winning movies on camcorders.  Sorry but for the mass market a lot of us really didn't want to go through the time and trouble for the quality on offer.  I only seriously looked at video after seeing some of the work that came out of early DSLRs.  What I did not realize at the time was that stuff was selectively shot and graded to work around a myriad of shortcomings.  I got my camera and went out shooting it and on day one I experienced a lot of disappointment.  Indie film makers may be able and willing to plan their shoots but us casual shooters need something that we can use... even around brick walls.

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With all this talk, I shot a series of very-very mini shorts on my iPhone and loved it. They were graded using apps, but remained unedited. I tried out some quirky ideas for the shots to get something interesting going.

 

I showed a few family and friends who loved them. The fact it was shot on the iPhone actually enhanced their experience...'you did that on an iPhone? Thats so cool!' 

 

The general public don't care what you shot it on really, they are just looking for entertainment and something captivating. You let things like camera specs get in the way, then your filmmaking career should I say, I'm afraid you might as well forget it. 

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You let things like camera specs get in the way, then your filmmaking career should I say, I'm afraid you might as well forget it. 

 

I don't think Andrew or anyone else is "letting camera specs" get in the way.  He is providing for FREE a very useful service and the rest of us are just having a discussion.  I think everyone who has posted in this thread has at least one camera and used it quite a bit and is just giving their feedback.

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I don't think Andrew or anyone else is "letting camera specs" get in the way.  He is providing for FREE a very useful service and the rest of us are just having a discussion.  I think everyone who has posted in this thread has at least one camera and used it quite a bit and is just giving their feedback.

 

I think you missed my point. 

 

Very well done to Andrew for his blog. Its a decent source of information. 

 

I'm sure the majority of us get on with it, enjoy the new advancements in technology and how that will help utilise our creativity. But there is a minority who don't really grasp that just because they can't shoot in say, raw, because their camera is 'shitty' h264, that they can't make a film. 

 

My point is, don't hold back - because if you do, you may do forever and never be happy with what you have.

 

Just be happy - shoot your films - and keep doing so, whatever you have. Just do it. Now. 

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But I'm not going to take my free time as a hobby to shoot a bunch of aliasing/moiré movies for free.  

 

If you're not actually shooting things or creating anyway, it all just seems like pointless complaining. "Boo me, I don't have Alexa quality!" Yes, you do, the BMPCC. Or maybe the 5d raw. "But they have shortcomings!". Oh shut up.

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This post seemed relevant for two threads, so here it is again edited a bit. two birds and all that:

 

I just had to make a choice, and went with 5D MKiii. I previously had a preorder on BMD 4K

  • Just about the best stills camera around, aside from medium format ( I have used a Hasselblad H3D out and about, foolishly enough. My wrist hurts just thinking about it.). Nikon D800 may pip it, but it's quite clunky in use and the video sucks.
  • Raw feature and Magic Lantern in general will mature as the cards and storage catch up, so it's relatively future proof. Now raw is impractical, in a while it won't be.
  • Harder than Chuck Norris in a Viagra factory - it won't break if I take it to a desert. If it does Canon will fix it more quickly than most other companies. Size matters.
  • No moire issues. A tiny bit of softness doesn't distract. A tiny bit of moire does.
  • Enough resolution. I don't care about absolute resolution, pixel peeping is silly really. I like 16mm film best of all formats. The feel of the image is more important than razor sharp eybrow hair. See also The Hobbit.
  • Brilliant low light performance.
  • Menu systems that I understand.
  • All my lenses are adapted to EF.  Full frame means buying one longer lens though...
  • A huge range of accessories, as it's industry standard.
  • It's familiar to my collaborators - on a corporate shoot recently, we all knew what we meant when we chatted settings.
  • I got a good price second hand, which was important. The retail is a bit high IMO. Depreciation will be minimal, comparatively.

So far 5D MKiii raw appears to look more electronic than Alexa/Red/BMD. I feel this is because many tests are relatively unprocessed, too saturated and sharpened, and I look forward to taming it creatively as it becomes practical to use technically.

I may still keep the 600D with Mosaic filter, just for the 3x crop video mode.

I wish Canon would put this mode in the 5D.

In short, yes I know they are cynical with feature splitting across SKUs. I do agree that it's frustrating.

But at the end of the day a creative tool needs to  work on many subtle levels. Being the best at one thing doesn't cut it. Having a good all-round package, whether I like to admit it or not, does. So they get the cash.

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The writing is on the wall. Already posted this article on another thread:
 
“Companies like Blackmagic Design have offered the earth at no cost, and it has forced other manufacturers to take note,” said Young. “I believe you will see far more activity from the more mainstream manufacturers that will blow those kind of solutions out of the water.” 
 
BHphotovideo store is now shipping BMPCCs preordered in April. Number of pre orders is in the thousands for this model alone and for this store alone. It seems to me this is a fast growing niche :)  Don't think big Japanese camera makers will stay still and watch BMD playing alone. Other sources also tip Japanese companies have spotted the niche and will respond. Technology is already present and available basically for free, just look at Canon cameras.  All they need to do is:
 
a) Add a USB3 instead of USB2, which Pentax already did in K3, stream the live view video feed and let external recorders companies know the format.
OR
b.) Place a better processor in the camera and use some sort of visually lossless codec as Cineform RAW for example. That would be a little bit more expensive solution but will save money on external recorder and fast storage. So they can sell such cameras at higher price. 
 
If till now Big Japanese Camera companies have hold back on RAW video to protect their higher end and much more expensive models  or because few years back storage was still slow and expensive or because it was a very small market for them, this is no longer the case IMHO. The genie is out of the bottle. With BMD cameras on the market and ML hack, RAW video is already available at very low price point even with some quirks. So what choice do they have :
    a.) Stay and watch BMD taking the niche with all the profit and glory and possibly growing stronger. We don't know how small or big this market is but for sure it is growing. 
    b.)Prepare and start selling their own cameras with RAW video at the same price levels.
 
Not everybody needs RAW and not for every project. Agree with ScreensPro: You don't need RAW to create a masterpiece. Chrales Chaplin's movies are still among my favorites despite being black and white, low resolution without speech and some of them don't even have constant 24p  :)
 
But it's great to be able to use the new tech and enjoy the image quality and explore the exciting opportunities it opens. Never such a high image quality for movies/videos was so affordable and widely available (well almost as BMD still struggles to ship their cameras in quantities :) ). 
 
So yeah RAW video in 1000$ to 2000$ cameras from Big Japanese companies is coming. For me it already came in the form of ML RAW hacked 5D Mark II. :)  Despite the quirks it's amazing and I am happy.  Especially after watching this guy  :) : 
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Judging on the number of MagicLantern downloads and uploads of Canon/ML raw videos to sites like Vimeo, I believe that this still is a very small market niche.

 

REALLY SMALL!.  I'm on the ML forum often.  I notice four main devs, Andy, 1%, gr3gg0, Alex.   Many of the devs who wrote some of the post processing software, like RAWanizer and PinkDotRemover, have left the scene.  Apparently, the current version of Davinci Resolve isn't working with cndgs.  I don't know if it's even big enough to be a "market".  Yesterday, a guy complained that he hadn't heard back from Mosaic Engineering about a VAF adapter for the 50D.  I think a LOT hinges on the success of the BMPCC. 

 

Reasons for BM to be excited, evidence to also make them terrified.

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