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Pro camcorder ergonomics - why are they so rubbish?


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On 11/22/2020 at 7:53 AM, BenEricson said:

They're worse... Every camera in the 90s and early 2000s at least had a viewfinder and was usable for extremely long periods of time handheld.

There's a few big differences between then and now though.

Back then the cameras had tiny 1/3" or even 1/5" sensors, and were mostly shooting for SD delivery (yes, they could shoot HD but the delivery pipeline was still mostly SD through the 00's).

The lenses needed for those cameras were tiny compared to what we need today for S35 sized sensors. So there was less weight up the front of the camera, and they could easily be balanced in the palm of your hand.

The fact they were shooting on tiny sensors, in a lower resolution, also made it much easier to nail focus, so you didn't need the best monitor possible. As we've moved to bigger sensors and more resolution, even the tiniest focus mistake can ruin a shot so quality monitoring is critical. A viewfinder of the quality required these days is expensive and might not even be used by most people - especially if it's located at the rear and requires the user to hold a front-heavy camera up to their eye for long periods of time.

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Well, that's a matter of opinion, as you say. I think it makes sense and anyone who's worked in broadcast can instantly pick up one of these (or an FX9 or FS7), start shooting, and find most of t

New blog post https://www.eoshd.com/news/pro-camcorder-ergonomics-are-overdue-a-big-change/

I agree.  I had the EVA1 for 2 years, which I gradually got frustrated with as it had a hideous way of changing the frame rates. The camera would have to reboot and sometimes crashed. Then, the c

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What you see above is a monstrosity of stupid design.

Well, that's a matter of opinion, as you say.

I think it makes sense and anyone who's worked in broadcast can instantly pick up one of these (or an FX9 or FS7), start shooting, and find most of the controls they're used to. Apart from setting the right res/codec for the project or formatting cards, you can often get through an entire days shooting without ever needing to enter the menu's with these cameras. And usually you can find the button you need without even looking.
 

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The number of buttons, command prompts, menu options and twiddly shit you have to do just to get into slow-mo mode – it’s a joke.

You literally push one button. The video you linked shows you how to change your S&Q settings, but once that's done, it's a single push of a button to get into slow-motion mode.
 

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And a much less cluttered and paired back side panel compared to the FX6

It will be far from "less cluttered" once you have 2x xlr cables (+ adapters to full-size), headphones and HDMI cable coming out of the side with all those little rubber doors dangling around. Not everyone will need that, but it's just as easy to criticise the C70 design as the FX6 (even more so in this regard). The FX6 has the ports right where you need them on a set - on the dumb side. It even has the ports recessed enough so that you can avoid obstructions when using a battery plate.
 

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3 nice dials under one hand as well as a joystick

Unless you need to shoot any high or low angles, or on a shoulder mount, and can't use the non-rotating handle. In that situation you have exactly 0 nice dials.  FX6/FS7/FS5 style handle is very versatile and convenient.
 

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The FX6 actually has zero audio inputs on the main camera body (just a headphone jack). They are all on the top handle extension which you don’t always want attached – so that’s not very clever for a start.

Fair point, in some cases. But if you're stripping the camera down, say to shoot on a gimbal or to mount it in a car, are you really going to want audio in-camera? All those cables/mics/receivers would just get in the way and go against what you're trying to achieve. You'd probably be recording externally anyway. A deal-breaker for some, (eg if you MUST have in-cam audio on gimbal), but for most it's a problem that is easily solved when it arises.
 

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The only reason people make a big expensive rig is to convince the client to take them seriously.

This comment shows just how out of touch you are with most people who will actually use a camera like the FX6.

The reason people will build a rig is to improve ergonomics (for their particular preferences) and reduce fatigue. It also lets them use all the tools they'll need when they work in a crew with a 1AC, soundo, director, etc. It lets them go from tripod to handheld to shoulder faster. It lets them put the shoulder mount and top handle directly in line with the COG for perfect balance. It lets them put the camera down on unbalanced surfaces without getting damaged or falling over. It lets them power everything from a single battery. It also gives the camera more mass which reduces shake and gives a more natural feel to the images (and if done right, makes it easier to balance and operate too).

The only people building rigs to impress other people are those who care more about THEIR image than THE image.
 

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Well that’s my opinion. For many the FX6 will be the right fit for the job.

Again, we're all entitled to opinions. But you're also making pretty outlandish statements that show how much understanding you lack about this product and the people who will use them.

It's the equivalent about me writing an article claiming the Isuzu N series is a "monstrosity of stupid design" because it doesn't fit into the average household garage.

 

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Hello !

This is a pretty harsh  article. You are commenting on this camera as someone who wants dslr with all the extra pro camera things (xlr, nds...). But like you said, it will be the perfect camera for a lot of people. So when you say "What you see above is a monstrosity of stupid design.", you should say "I think".

I've had lots of DSLRs, and the FS5mkII, with the atomos on it. I also use RED cameras. The FS5 coupled with the atomos is a little beast. Really great to perform lots and lots of various jobs (mainly commercials/brand content). And i managed to assign one boutton which allow for VERY quick change to enter slowmo options (just one press for 4K100fps, and two press for 1080p 200fps)....). Actually quicker that on my A7SII. I guess there is the same possibility with the FX6, but as always, they did'nt give it away in their little video tutorial, they wanted people to see all the menus. Every user then has to enter the shortcuts they want.

I can see you never really used cinema cameras like red or alexa for instance. They are just boxes with lots of things missing. But you have to build around it. The FX6 provides everything except for the EVF, which is a bummer, for sure, but X70 is the same (with a screen that you cannot move a lot..). And having no XLR on the FX6 bugged me at first, but when i think about it, i always have the handle attached when shooting sound though XLR anyway. When doing gimbal work i usually don't record "pro" sound, i'm too occupied shooting, and a sound engineer is taking care of it. And scratch audio and/or TC is sufficient enough for synchronizing.

With it's full frame sensor, great DR, variND, full size XLRs, I think it just beats the X70, (which is also a very very convincing solution).

An when you think about a camera, you also have to think about the second camera. I thnik the FX6/A7S3 it a great combo, as well as the X70/R5. But we all know the implemented issues with the R5 to cripple it.... ;). And the A7S3 has the same sensor than the FX6, and colors are matching very closely.

One thing i dislike about sony are the lenses. I just hate them. I use old vintage manual lenses, but also canon lenses. I would love to have AF on the FX6 with canon lenses...but i guess that's not possible... 😞

Oh and FYI: for the moment, technology doesn't allow for IBIS to be implemented along internal NDs, so that's why. Cannot explain why though, but there is a physical problem. I guess it will come in the future... But no camera has it as for now, so we shouldn't complain about something not possible as of now !

 

Best, from france,

 

 

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Actually i wen't and watched the little tutorial for S&Q:

THERE IS THE SAME POSSIBILITY WITH THE FX6 than the FS5 ! this is exactly what the tutorial explains actually. How to set up S&Q ! You do it once, and don't do it again ! Then it's just "press S&Q button". Please can you edit your article to explain at least that ? I think this is important.
 

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On 11/21/2020 at 8:54 PM, TomTheDP said:

Looks like most of the controls I need are there. Can you set a custom switch for high speed? 

I realize auto focus settings are probably a bitch to get to which could certainly slow down workflow if you rely on that. Probably a big reason someone would buy a Sony in the first place. 

It is just a press of a button...! (s&Q button)

The tutorial embeded in the article just shows how to set the S&Q options. You usually don't have to change that every hour...

Personally i set it up to 4K 100fps, and 1080 200fps on my fs5 coupled with atomos, and that's it, never had to go back to the settings.

 

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On 11/21/2020 at 8:55 PM, Oliver Daniel said:

I agree. 

I had the EVA1 for 2 years, which I gradually got frustrated with as it had a hideous way of changing the frame rates. The camera would have to reboot and sometimes crashed. Then, the crew would be waiting impatiently to get the next shot. 

I’m disappointed to see this in the FX6, which is otherwise an excellent entry for Sony.

I agree with the huge amount of buttons being a pain in the ass. 

I agree that it’s very silly to rig your camera for the sake of rigging. I like to use it as bare bones as possible. It’s more liberating, speeds up the process and allows more creativity. I don’t give a s*it what the client thinks, I’ll do it my way. 

The C70 is a massive step in the right direction. For my use, it’s simply the best video camera design I’ve ever experienced. It’s just very quick, nimble and easy to use. It doesn’t reboot when you change to slow motion. You can do it in seconds! Also the sticky out screen bit is fine, and my battery doesn’t stick out. 

I’d love to see the FX6 in a C70 body! 

It is just a press of a button...! (s&Q button)

The tutorial embeded in the article just shows how to set the S&Q options. You usually don't have to change that every hour...

Personally i set it up to 4K 100fps, and 1080 200fps on my fs5 coupled with atomos, and that's it, never had to go back to the settings.

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On 11/21/2020 at 9:53 PM, BenEricson said:

They're worse... Every camera in the 90s and early 2000s at least had a viewfinder and was usable for extremely long periods of time handheld. 

I think the C70 a better design than the FX6. At least you can throw a loupe on the back and have two points of contact.

well... why cannot you do that with the FX6? Because you prefer two points of contact instead of three? Three points of contact is not possible with the X70, wheareas it is with the FX6.

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47 minutes ago, guillaume juin said:

I would love to have AF on the FX6 with canon lenses...but i guess that's not possible... 😞

Hopefully it will be. I just bought the Metabones Cine Smart adapter, mainly so I can use my EF-S 17-55 2.8 on my FS5 Mk1. To my surprise, it actually performs better than my native 16-70 f4 lens and, once it had finished calibrating, even offers face detect AF. My guess is that if it works on this camera it will work on the FX6, even if Metabones have to issue a firmware update.

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1 hour ago, Tim Sewell said:

Hopefully it will be. I just bought the Metabones Cine Smart adapter, mainly so I can use my EF-S 17-55 2.8 on my FS5 Mk1. To my surprise, it actually performs better than my native 16-70 f4 lens and, once it had finished calibrating, even offers face detect AF. My guess is that if it works on this camera it will work on the FX6, even if Metabones have to issue a firmware update.

really ? that's great news for me, i just didn't know that !

It has been released 3 years ago, and AF with canon lenses have been working good with sony cameras all this time? Anyway, FS5 AF is not great, but FX6 seems very good, and for gimbal work without AC, it could be important for me.

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I was surprised, to put it mildly. I had been hoping for just push AF (the fly-by-wire on the 17-55 is miserable), but I fixed it to the camera - with the button pushed during mounting to activate Advanced Mode) and after an hour or so of fiddling around (the documentation says something about it taking some time to calibrate itself) it just, kind of, *started* doing C-AF. Don't get me wrong, AF in general isn't great on the FS5 (don't know if the Mkii is any better) but it's usable in some circumstances and, with this lens at least, slightly faster than with my one and only native lens. Plus it has the locking EF mount, which is excellent.

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5 hours ago, guillaume juin said:

well... why cannot you do that with the FX6? Because you prefer two points of contact instead of three? Three points of contact is not possible with the X70, wheareas it is with the FX6.

With a loupe it is possible. It basically performs how any DSLR has for the last 10 years.

The FX6 has no point of contact on the rear of the camera. IMO the FS5 or C300 is a better design than either one of them. 

I think Sony and Canon have realized they can save the money by not putting in a EVF and still sell just as many units. 

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Just going to weigh in here as someone who switched back to the 'camcorder' form factor with the FS5 (mark 2) after using mirrorless for years.  

The traditional camcorder form factor with its side controls is noticeably easier to use on a tripod.  I never once used the viewfinder on my FS5 and would generally want to use a third party EVF if I went that route - the one on the camera is simply not that good and would be very difficult to judge focus on, and the positioning of the EVF I find fairly awkward for hand-holding (you'd have to lift the camera up to your face.  Generally with a small camera like this, I'd prefer to brace the camera against my chest, which feels more secure and results in less arm strain.  Using a C70 style body in a similar way seems like it would cause the controls to be squished up against the operator.

I know some folks on here are a bit dismissive of client perception, but I do a fair bit of corporate (not glamorous but hey) and doc work.  Client perception is super important to my bottom line and I've had clients specifically call out the video form factor in a positive way, saying things like "oh, what did that camera cost" and "That looks a lot better than my mirrorless that I have at home".  It's not (although specs aside I much prefer the SLOG 2 our of the FS5m2 than the A7s in an unquantifiable sort of way), but that perception goes a long way to justifying my day rate and the money that I spent on the camera.

I miss WAY fewer shots with the FS5 than I did with an A7s.  Don't underestimate the value of internal ND where the colour shift is compensated for automatically, being able to use large-capacity batteries that don't require swapping out every hour etc etc.  It makes shooting on primes much more viable in a quick moving situation and removing colour casts from an ND (any ND) filter from log footage in post is a huge pain, if it's even possible with the limited codecs on these cameras.

All that being said, I'm sure mirrorless ergonomics have come a long way in the last few years, so take my comparison to an aging Sony model with a grain of salt.  Happy shooting folks.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Eric Sanderson said:

Just going to weigh in here as someone who switched back to the 'camcorder' form factor with the FS5 (mark 2) after using mirrorless for years.  

The traditional camcorder form factor with its side controls is noticeably easier to use on a tripod.  I never once used the viewfinder on my FS5 and would generally want to use a third party EVF if I went that route - the one on the camera is simply not that good and would be very difficult to judge focus on, and the positioning of the EVF I find fairly awkward for hand-holding (you'd have to lift the camera up to your face.  Generally with a small camera like this, I'd prefer to brace the camera against my chest, which feels more secure and results in less arm strain.  Using a C70 style body in a similar way seems like it would cause the controls to be squished up against the operator.

I know some folks on here are a bit dismissive of client perception, but I do a fair bit of corporate (not glamorous but hey) and doc work.  Client perception is super important to my bottom line and I've had clients specifically call out the video form factor in a positive way, saying things like "oh, what did that camera cost" and "That looks a lot better than my mirrorless that I have at home".  It's not (although specs aside I much prefer the SLOG 2 our of the FS5m2 than the A7s in an unquantifiable sort of way), but that perception goes a long way to justifying my day rate and the money that I spent on the camera.

I miss WAY fewer shots with the FS5 than I did with an A7s.  Don't underestimate the value of internal ND where the colour shift is compensated for automatically, being able to use large-capacity batteries that don't require swapping out every hour etc etc.  It makes shooting on primes much more viable in a quick moving situation and removing colour casts from an ND (any ND) filter from log footage in post is a huge pain, if it's even possible with the limited codecs on these cameras.

All that being said, I'm sure mirrorless ergonomics have come a long way in the last few years, so take my comparison to an aging Sony model with a grain of salt.  Happy shooting folks.

 

 

 

I would think at least with non variable ND's it would be easy enough to remove. Shoot with your different fixed ND's against a white card and measure how much the WB and Tint is off. Wouldn't that work?

Not trying to take away from the usefulness of END though. I am eagerly awaiting getting Z-cam's END module. I also agree client perception matters a lot. 

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19 hours ago, BenEricson said:

With a loupe it is possible. It basically performs how any DSLR has for the last 10 years.

The FX6 has no point of contact on the rear of the camera. IMO the FS5 or C300 is a better design than either one of them. 

I think Sony and Canon have realized they can save the money by not putting in a EVF and still sell just as many units. 

Well, yes, there is a point of contact at the rear of the camera, and it is...the rear of the camera ! Which you can apply on the top of your pectoral/clavicle, with your screen in your line of sight. And it is WAY more confortable than holding DSLR with a loupe to your eyes, which strains your arms so much.

The rotating handle is also incredibly versatile, confortable, ajustable. You can easyly handle your camera in "top shot" position very high, which is not possible with a fixed handle.

 

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in a perfect world they will build a PD150 with interchangeable mount and prores mode. Basically the brain of a bmpcc and the body of a pd150 ...

They have the same policy with cars. designs were way better before but they will never build them again. can you imagine a Renault 4l with an electric engine ?

 

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12 minutes ago, Pewwinck said:

They have the same policy with cars. designs were way better before but they will never build them again. can you imagine a Renault 4l with an electric engine ?

I think Renault did show a concept version based on it a while back.

Meanwhile, this guy took matters into his own hands.

 

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On 12/31/2020 at 12:24 AM, Pewwinck said:

in a perfect world they will build a PD150 with interchangeable mount and prores mode. Basically the brain of a bmpcc and the body of a pd150 ...

They have the same policy with cars. designs were way better before but they will never build them again. can you imagine a Renault 4l with an electric engine ?

 

The problem is designs like that won't work with lenses made for APS-C of FF sensors. The PD150/170 had 1/3" sensors, and the lenses required for such sensors are much smaller and much lighter. Most of the weight of these cams was at the back right near the handgrip, so they balanced well when hand-holding.

Most cameras these days end up with the COG pretty close to the lens mount or sensor plane once you put a typical photo zoom or small cine prime on., so any grip/handle behind that point is going to be poorly balanced. If you were to hold a camera like you describe up to your face to use the viewfinder, your arms would give in after 30 seconds because all the weight is at the very front. And using the top handle to shoot lower angles would lead to RSI after a day of shooting. Plus this design would be no good for gimbals which would instantly discount it for a large portion of potential buyers.

To achieve proper balance, you need to either (a) make the camera body bigger, longer, and heavier (eg Canon C700, Sony F55), or (b) put the handgrips further forward (like Sony does with their grip/arm combo and slanted top handle on the FX6), or (c) make the body a simple block shape and let the user solve the problems on their own (eg red, Alexa Mini, Z-Cam).

Those cams of the 90's-00's were very convenient and ergonomic, but the same designs do not translate well to large sensors and large lenses.

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Thanks for answering Barefoot 🙂

When i see the quality and character of a 16mm bmpcc sensor. i believe it would surely be possible in a reasonnably small body. this sensor with a 8-80 f2.8 fixed lens on a PD150 body ergonomics would be a dream for me 🙂 and for a lot of documentary run n gun  style film makers.  But no brands want such a longevity now because they want you to buy a new camera every 1 or 2 years, and we do !!!

🙂

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