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EOSHD weekend report: 4 long years


Andrew Reid

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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?

[url=http://www.eoshd.com/content/11479/eoshd-weekend-report-4-long-years]Read the full article here[/url]
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Nikon going into cinema will never happen, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, JVC all have professional broadcast divisions and can even be considered pioneers in digital video, Nikon don't have any of that. Having a cinema line is more than just releasing bodies and lenses, it require decades of experience in software, hardware, and logistical support. If you look at the financial results between Canon and Nikon, Canon absolutely dwarfs Nikon in terms of net income, Nikon does not have the expertise or resources to commit into a new line of cinema products, hence why they release products based on 4 year old tech. 

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Actually Nikon have a huge support network worldwide and recently moved a major service centre to downtown Hollywood http://nikonrumors.com/2012/07/02/nikon-moving-el-segundo-service-center-to-hollywood.aspx/

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/nikon-corp-los-angeles

 

I'm not suggesting Nikon step in at the pro end only, I'm suggesting they do the simple stuff better -

 

- D5200 already has a Super 35mm sized sensor from Toshiba which does very clean 1080p raw output with no moire problems

 

- Add professional codec

 

- Add video optimised form factor (i.e. remove mirror, optical viewfinder, etc.)

 

- Sell it

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I'm telling you: As long as Nikon uses Sony sensors in their high end DSLRs, Sony will dictate how they get to implement video on them, and at what price.  

 

I see this as an attempt at bringing high end stills IQ to a lower price, nothing more. So i'm cool with it. 

 

All that being said, i think the overall lack of progress in the camera market is just another symptom of the collusion that is everywhere in asian manufacturing markets. 

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I know the ongoing argument for Nikon is how they don't need or care about video.  That's great and personally, if they solved all of our dslr video hinderances with a camera one day, I think the last thing on people's minds would be that it was a Nikon.  They don't have a video department however to seperate, upsell, cannibalize, etc..  Everybody else does.  So it's easy to pin point a companny with a history so respected in imagery, and route for them to save us all.  5 years after the 5D2, there are still needs to be met in the area of DSLR videography. 

Obviously, the market is advancing technology to be more and more convenient.  Everything is easily accessible, and aims to take the hassle, legwork, and pain in the ass out of everything.  (We're lazy.)   While there are video-centric cameras in smaller form factors hitting the streets, what do they not do as well as a dslr? professional pictures.  We still have the same shortcomings in dslr video as we did 5 years ago, today.  All i seem to hear about is 4k and how accessible it will become.  I have no doubt they're serious about it now and will push it more than ever in 2014, but it will probably be bottlenecked into good old 8-bits.  Things like that..  So much focus on the resolution and not the quality of it..  Crystal clear stair-stepped gradients in ultra HD.  If Blackmagic never did anything else from here on out, they've blown the door open on excuses.  10-bit pro-res 4:2:2 and compressed raw to an SD card for a thousand dollars.  I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm so hard core about it, but I like options in post and it just seems like a silly thing to keep implementing 8-bit as a video specification for 5 years straight in the hybrids...especially if 10-bit can be done by someone else for so cheap.  It's probably the biggest complaint I hear about the Canon's (aside from the price).  I look forward to the GH4, it looks to have some great specs especially if it has a true 10-BIT output, and not the dithered version of 8-bits they put into the AF-100 in its final stretch.   Plus, hopefully they've made a milestone in the low light department. 

 

It seems like it's been programmed that spontaneity isn't professional filmmaking, and having a no-compromise, all in one camera counts as amateur hour.  A stills camera with the capability of a DSLR that can shoot compressed raw or Pro-res 10-bit internally at the flick of a dial is for lazy wannabe cinematographers?  I say make one and see what happens. 

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Actually Nikon have a huge support network worldwide and recently moved a major service centre to downtown Hollywood http://nikonrumors.com/2012/07/02/nikon-moving-el-segundo-service-center-to-hollywood.aspx/

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/nikon-corp-los-angeles

 

I'm not suggesting Nikon step in at the pro end only, I'm suggesting they do the simple stuff better -

 

- D5200 already has a Super 35mm sized sensor from Toshiba which does very clean 1080p raw output with no moire problems

 

- Add professional codec

 

- Add video optimised form factor (i.e. remove mirror, optical viewfinder, etc.)

 

- Sell it

 

Those are just normal consumer service centers for repairs, I was talking about dedicated cinema and broadcast professionals. I think those things you listed are easier said than done. Sony and Panasonic are at the forefront of software and video encoding, the reason Sony can push a otherwise crappy consumer grade codec to do 240fps on the FS700 is because Sony developed AVCHD, which Canon can't even pull off with its C100 (only 60i wtf?). Canon's weakness in this department can be seen by also the 1DC's inefficient mpeg 4k codec. If Canon is struggling in this department then Nikon have no chance, they will have to pay licensing and adapt proprietary formats.

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I just want to see some progress!

 

DSLR video is 4 years old this November. D90 was a long time ago. 5D Mark II was also a long time ago. Just about the only significant progress since the 5D Mark II Canon or Nikon has given us has been 24p and a fix for moire (D5200, 5D3).

 

Only Panasonic have given us constant progress. GH2 was a clear advance in image quality over GH1. GH3 was a clear advance in features, build quality and ergonomics over GH2.

 

I find it strangely discomforting that this market has been best served by hackers and an Australian post production company over the last 4 years, rather than the enormously profitable manufacturers.

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Canon's weakness in this department can be seen by also the 1DC's inefficient mpeg 4k codec. If Canon is struggling in this department then Nikon have no chance, they will have to pay licensing and adapt proprietary formats.

 

It wasn't a weakness, it was playing on a strength. Canon had developed a JPEG engine fast enough to do 12MP stills at 24fps. They simply turned that into a half arsed video mode and called it "1D C" instead of "1D X".

 

Nikon haven't even done that!

 

I don't get the feeling either of them are applying their incredible technology in an intelligent way to the market, aside from Cinema EOS and that's only for the high end.

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I just don't understand Nikon.  Clearly they have the kind of opportunity to grab a nice piece of the market with minimal effort.  I have very high hopes for the Nikon D5300 as crippled as it is by not having a headphone out and aperture control in live view, still they added 60/50p and it's got a strong sensor and new Expeed 4.  If they get the noise issues sorted out with the new Processor that would be a very strong VDSLR.   Just imagine if they took the step to make it a true cinema camera?  It's not a big step at all to go there based on where it's at already.

 

They can easily price it well below Cinema EOS and make a huge profit.  Not having a pro video line to protect gives them so much freedom.  They can put their all into any Cinema Nikon they decide to make.

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This is why I don't believe in the crippling theory at Canon and Sony, etc. Nikon have no pro video line to protect yet still can't be bothered to put the relevant range of jacks and decent codecs on their high end DSLRs.

 

Qué?!

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When the D800 was launched and became the first DSLR to feature clean HDMI out and a headphone jack, Nikon proclaimed that they were here to embrace the filmmaker by providing them with new and advanced features.  They wanted filmmakers to know that they were more commited to them than Canon was with the 5D Mk2 when that revolution began by accident.

 

They probably didn't know Canon would soon release the EOS cinema line and that a company called Blackmagic would show up to claim the $1K-$4K price point with Raw video features and 2.5K+ resolution.  And noone probably could have forseen Magic Lantern's Raw video accomplishments on the Mk3.

 

Now consider that the EOS cinema line is said to be overpriced for the codec and frame rates provided and the Blackmagic cams are sometimes said to lack robust features and ergonomics.  So to be truly competitive, Nikon would have to come to market with the feature set of EOS and the robust codecs of Blackmagic in order to be a category stand-out.  I don't think that's realistic to expect from a company that's been playing incrementalism with Canon for so many years and has no real experience developing a video system with professional features.

 

I agree 100% that they would be wise to diversify, but I think the real prize of joining the cinema camera niche for Nikon would be selling more glass.  I'm sure that part of the business remains highly profitable for most camera/optics manufacturers.  With new cinema customers they can even repackage their lenses and sell them with clickless apertures for twice as much.  Hell, Tokina charges 4 times more for a cinema optimized 11-16mm.

 

In my opinion they would be far better served to offer a cinema line of glass like Zeiss does in PL and F mount, but for less money.  If the customers materialize to buy their glass, then they can use that as a profit center to develop a video camera while also establishing credibility as a provider in the segment.  The great thing about buying Nikon F mount is that it can adapt to EOS, but not the other way around.  Why limit yourself to selling glass for your own camera when you can go after an entire market of cameras with a product that you already have the tooling to deliver.

 

I see the the Df release as partial appeasement to photo "purists" who think video is uncool and adds unnecessarily to the cost of a camera.  Now Nikon can at least say that they did what the purists were asking for and see how the actual sales numbers shake out.  Demand so far seems to show that video inclusion was probably NOT stifling sales and taking video out of the camera obviously did not lower the price - so go figure there.

 

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I think it's the conservative culture that all those companies have. Olympus, Canon, Nikon seem like they can't get out of their own way.

A lack of vision about a market they don't understand.  The small independent film and video market is HUGE in the U.S. alone.  Thing is these companies don't seem to have a clue.   These DSLR film guys often buy more than one camera so they have a bigger footprint than their numbers would suggest.  Especially since no single camera solves all needs.  For me a Cinema Nikon might get me really close.  The Sensors in Nikon's have wider DR but less low light than a 5Dmk3 but with just a bit of tweaking I bet they could get the best of both worlds out of a Nikon dedicated to Cinema.

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When the D800 was launched and became the first DSLR to feature clean HDMI out and a headphone jack, Nikon proclaimed that they were here to embrace the filmmaker by providing them with new and advanced features.  They wanted filmmakers to know that they were more commited to them than Canon was with the 5D Mk2 when that revolution began by accident.

 

They probably didn't know Canon would soon release the EOS cinema line and that a company called Blackmagic would show up to claim the $1K-$4K price point with Raw video features and 2.5K+ resolution.  And noone probably could have forseen Magic Lantern's Raw video accomplishments on the Mk3.

 

Now consider that the EOS cinema line is said to be overpriced for the codec and frame rates provided and the Blackmagic cams are sometimes said to lack robust features and ergonomics.  So to be truly competitive, Nikon would have to come to market with the feature set of EOS and the robust codecs of Blackmagic in order to be a category stand-out.  I don't think that's realistic to expect from a company that's been playing incrementalism with Canon for so many years and has no real experience developing a video system with professional features.

 

I agree 100% that they would be wise to diversify, but I think the real prize of joining the cinema camera niche for Nikon would be selling more glass.  I'm sure that part of the business remains highly profitable for most camera/optics manufacturers.  With new cinema customers they can even repackage their lenses and sell them with clickless apertures for twice as much.  Hell, Tokina charges 4 times more for a cinema optimized 11-16mm.

 

In my opinion they would be far better served to offer a cinema line of glass like Zeiss does in PL and F mount, but for less money.  If the customers materialize to buy their glass, then they can use that as a profit center to develop a video camera while also establishing credibility as a provider in the segment.  The great thing about buying Nikon F mount is that it can adapt to EOS, but not the other way around.  Why limit yourself to selling glass for your own camera when you can go after an entire market of cameras with a product that you already have the tooling to deliver.

 

I see the the Df release as partial appeasement to photo "purists" who think video is uncool and adds unnecessarily to the cost of a camera.  Now Nikon can at least say that they did what the purists were asking for and see how the actual sales numbers shake out.  Demand so far seems to show that video inclusion was probably NOT stifling sales and taking video out of the camera obviously did not lower the price - so go figure there.

 

Good post.

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This is why I don't believe in the crippling theory at Canon and Sony, etc. Nikon have no pro video line to protect yet still can't be bothered to put the relevant range of jacks and decent codecs on their high end DSLRs.

 

It is crippling, no question. It is because Nikon's main sensor supplier is Sony, a company with a very large pro video department to protect.  No doubt the restriction will have been specified as part of the contract to supply the sensors.  

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Actually NIkon's implementation of Sony's 36MP sensor in the D800 is better than Sony's own, in the A7R. No AVCHD for a start. I don't believe that Sony have a no-compete clause on their sensors. You don't become the world's number 1 sensor supplier by bossing around your customers.

 

You do realise… the GH3 has a Sony sensor, right?

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Well, being the world's number 1 sensor supplier gives you a lot of leverage.  And they are also a competitor to most of their sensor customers, in stills cameras, video and mobile devices.  

 

But if it is not crippling, what is it?  It takes actual effort writing firmware to add overlays to an HDMI output.  It didn't happen by accident.  Just sending a clean feed is easier and is what any engineer would do if not told otherwise.

 

Anyway, crippled HDMI outputs are ancient history now and I think we agree on most things.  Nice post by the way.  You are right to highlight the issue with Nikon's product development speed.  Four years just for a re-styled body!  That analyst you quoted the other week is quite right.  Nikon say they have a five year plan to save their business, but in five years time they'll be lucky to still have a business to save. 

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Nikon has used sensors form Toshiba and Aptina, so I doubt Sony would really be able to dictate to them what they can and can't do.

 

I do consider what Nikon has done actually pretty decent.  The Clean HDMI out is useful along with an Atomos Ninja.  That was so important that Canon felt compelled to copy them.  The D7100 and D5200/5300 are great value.  With just a touch more attention to Cinema needs they could easily produce a winning camera based on their low and mid range DSLR's.

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Nikon has used sensors form Toshiba and Aptina, so I doubt Sony would really be able to dictate to them what they can and can't do.

 

 

Then the only other answers we have left is that Nikon is insane. It makes no sense otherwise. They can't be that daft. 

 

EOSHD, yes the GH3 has a Sony sensor... which isn't in the same universe as the sensors going into the high end Nikons. Plus, it's not like the gh3 has raw output either. It's got a decent codec, but nothing that's good enough to be perceived as a threat to Sony's high end cinema Cameras. 

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Perhaps the Df just came up as an idea 4 years ago, but was quickly abandoned as "rubbish" and only recently, say beginning of this year, they got back to concept after finally recognizing a market for one... and well, kind of like the Leica strategy, charging you more for less. Now there's no video (no live view as well right?) and it costs more than the D800, an arguably superior camera.

So much for Nikon's supposed "we're here for the videographers" with the D800 video "Joyride" which nearly convinced me to go Nikon... now they don't even offer video on their latest camera! When of course, Canon hasn't done much more themselves, the 70D has the new on-sensor AF to help out, but the only real progress that has taken place over the last 4 years of HDSLR video is indeed with Hackers, the 5DII or any of the rebels wouldn't have gotten any more interest/use without Magic Lantern, and perhaps the GH3 wouldn't exist the way it does now with the array of video oriented controls and codecs if it weren't for the community of videographers that began idolizing the hacked GH2 and it's video splendor. Again, now with RAW enabled 5D3 and 7D things have shifted once more, and quite a lot, but I have to wonder how this article or even a lot of the other recent ones would have been written in a world without 5D3 RAW. Pretty much BM and Kine would be the only budget-friendly players in that field. I guess, aside from the possible increase in resolution for 4K support, seeing RAW in any DSLR natively isn't happening, what if the next 5DIV or 7DII would be built to work against ML and not allow RAW?? As more people get used to shooting in that, would anyone even consider abandoning it for a camera not capable?
If of course, the codecs and bit rate are great and the resulting image quality and low light performance and unmatched... but it's hard to see that happening from Canon

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I still give Nikon a bit of credit for the new D5300.  They added 60p and I have hope that the low light Noise Reduction is improved and they solved the fixed pattern noise.  If so that camera will offer some good bang for the buck.  I think it would be a good candidate for Nikon to base a Cinema Camera on.  Tho i'm sure some would suggest the FF D610 perhaps.  Either way they have some good candidates for taking just a few small steps to come up with a Cinema Nikon just like they made the Df photo focused camera, they could make a Nikon focused on video.  Perhaps it would only take some push from the users.

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