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DanielVranic

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Hello all!

For various reasons, I put down the rigs at the end of 2019 and in the last few weeks I have picked them back up for some short films and small events here in town and I got the itch again.

One of the reasons I put down my cameras was I felt I was limited in mobility. When I used an a6500 on a DJI Ronin S I felt I could go anywhere and film anything because of the size/weight and the AF.

I upgraded to XT3's and a BMPCC4K to gain a PQ upgrade, but my functionality of what I was able to do really went down and I actually lost gigs over it, especially with the P4K, when it was a dolly or sticks it was perfect but SO MUCH of the work I was called for was on a gimbal or handheld and it just doesn't fit that bill for me.

Felt like a total idiot too!! Huge gear upgrade that actually made it harder to get gigs and thus pay off the gear!

So If I am going to do this again, I want to do it right. When I worked my best and my gear became a creative extension of me, was with my small Sony's and gimbal, but the PQ wasn't there. I am sure in the last year or so there have been some major upgrades in this industry but going on Youtube to find some honest reviews is tough. 

Is there a modern equivalent that offers similar PQ to the P4K, only small enough to be flown with reliable AF so I can just focus on the story and not gear? Thank you everyone... 

 

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Panasonic S1x series?

The S5 + 28-70 Sigma has really seemed like an awesome option especially if there is a firmware update planned for RAW.

I'm not sure why you couldn't have flown your X-T3 on the Ronin S and done everything that the a6500 did, aside from perhaps a difference in AF in some situations. The Fujis are certainly going to giv

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For really reliable AF you are stuck with either Sony or Canon. The Sony A7s3 is 3 or 4 times the price of what you already have and in my eyes doesn't have as nice an  image of either the pocket 4k or Fuji. Sony A73 is cheaper but limited to 8 bit and similar quality to the a6500 you had 

Canon R6 is cheaper but still way above the cost of your current cameras and has overheating issues in 4k and again I prefer the image from what you already have.

I have had success using the Fuji XT3 with gimbal whilst using AF but that is only a small amount of the time, I don't rely on AF like you want to. Can't think of any decent alternatives other than maybe Nikon Z6 (AF seems ok but am no expert on using auto focus), hopefully other folk will chip in 

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I had the a6500 and sold it to move over to Fuji and a couple of other systems. I ended up with the a7siii and while pricey, I feel that is is a system that I can see myself keeping for the next 3 years and actually see a ROI. Image is great, codecs are plentiful, and the AF is great. I paired it up with the Sigma 24-70 and an ND adapter and I feel that I am ready to roll. The AF is reliable, battery life is great, I don't worry about the recording limit. Being able to shoot 4k60P when it becomes necessary is a huge plus. It fits my current needs, and I see it fulfilling my future wants.

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4 hours ago, ade towell said:

For really reliable AF you are stuck with either Sony or Canon. The Sony A7s3 is 3 or 4 times the price of what you already have and in my eyes doesn't have as nice an  image of either the pocket 4k or Fuji. Sony A73 is cheaper but limited to 8 bit and similar quality to the a6500 you had 

Canon R6 is cheaper but still way above the cost of your current cameras and has overheating issues in 4k and again I prefer the image from what you already have.

I have had success using the Fuji XT3 with gimbal whilst using AF but that is only a small amount of the time, I don't rely on AF like you want to. Can't think of any decent alternatives other than maybe Nikon Z6 (AF seems ok but am no expert on using auto focus), hopefully other folk will chip in 

AF is hit or miss for me only if there is someone behind the subject. It was never able to tell which face was closer.

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I'm not sure why you couldn't have flown your X-T3 on the Ronin S and done everything that the a6500 did, aside from perhaps a difference in AF in some situations. The Fujis are certainly going to give you better AF than the S5, and the latest firmware increases the AF to X-T4 levels.

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As an S5 user, I can tell you that if reliable AF is important to you...and by the sounds of it, it is, then no, especially on a gimbal.

Then for the best AF you need native Panny lenses. I like Sigma. A lot. But I have tried 2 Sigma lenses now, the 45mm f2.8 and the 56mm f1.4 APSC and the former doesn’t work anywhere near as well as native Panny and just good luck with the latter!

As for the S1 series, just no. Same AF issues and a chunk more weight.

They are great cameras but I’d argue far from the best tools for this job.

As is clearly the case here with the OP, usability is paramount and if the XT3 is not working out, then go back to Sony. Though I had no AF issues with my XT3’s myself.

If the A6000 series is not doing it for you, then A73 as has been suggested, though if it was me, I’d go A7Siii or new FX3. If the budget allowed.

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If you haven't been following camera news there's basically two options, sony or canon. A7siii just works, but you really need to grade well (imo) to make it shine.  I've been honing my skills and I like the results I am getting. My only gripe is that it is not bitingly sharp because it's not really oversampled, and the noise reduction is very aggressive and can't be turned off. However, it's definitely a money maker because no one (clients) cares and we are all still delivering for 1080p output half the time. It just works. Lots of choice for lenses. Great on gimbals.

The canon r5 8k looks amazing but I don't think it's 10 bit and the codec and file sizes are too hard to work with. If you only shoot short clips the 4k hq looks pretty darned good and could work. I'm not a fan of red skin tones or the shadow recovery, or the borderline false advertising and lingering doubts on whether it will last through the day without overheating and locking me out. Also the RF eco system is still very new and hella expensive. C70 is the aps-c option, not really floating my boat because of the sensor size but everything else is gravy if you don't need ff. The speed booster cuts the af coverage significantly.

My vote would be to wait and see what comes out in the next year if you can. A7iv might be an affordable option. Maybe canon will release a full frame c70 but I doubt it will be affordable, none of their ff cine camera are.

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17 hours ago, DanielVranic said:

Felt like a total idiot too!! Huge gear upgrade that actually made it harder to get gigs and thus pay off the gear!

So If I am going to do this again, I want to do it right. When I worked my best and my gear became a creative extension of me, was with my small Sony's and gimbal, but the PQ wasn't there. I am sure in the last year or so there have been some major upgrades in this industry but going on Youtube to find some honest reviews is tough. 

Is there a modern equivalent that offers similar PQ to the P4K, only small enough to be flown with reliable AF so I can just focus on the story and not gear? Thank you everyone... 

A way to stick with your current gear, while spending only a very small amount of additional cash would be to add a remote follow focus. As there have been some usable prosumer ones which have recently become very affordable:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1438685-REG/tilta_wlc_t04_nucleus_nano_wireless_lens_control.html
This is assuming  you are working with an AC, who could handle this. Or you can rig up a contraption to somehow juggle using it yourself while operating the gimbal at the same time. (not impossible, I've seen people with this configuration, but is tricky)

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3 hours ago, IronFilm said:

A way to stick with your current gear, while spending only a very small amount of additional cash would be to add a remote follow focus. As there have been some usable prosumer ones which have recently become very affordable:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1438685-REG/tilta_wlc_t04_nucleus_nano_wireless_lens_control.html
This is assuming  you are working with an AC, who could handle this. Or you can rig up a contraption to somehow juggle using it yourself while operating the gimbal at the same time. (not impossible, I've seen people with this configuration, but is tricky)

So funny enough, this is actually what I am using when I fly the P4K on the Ronin. I'm very bad at juggling framing and focus and where im stepping. It was actually using this very setup, P4K+FF+Ronin that made me realize I hate this and need AF. Maybe I just need to practice even more.

I unfortunately have never done a shoot with the budget for a 1st AC. So audio, all cameras, lighting is typically 100% me. This is a small-ish town in the midwest so there is not much to choose from.

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7 hours ago, IronFilm said:

A way to stick with your current gear, while spending only a very small amount of additional cash would be to add a remote follow focus. As there have been some usable prosumer ones which have recently become very affordable:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1438685-REG/tilta_wlc_t04_nucleus_nano_wireless_lens_control.html
This is assuming  you are working with an AC, who could handle this. Or you can rig up a contraption to somehow juggle using it yourself while operating the gimbal at the same time. (not impossible, I've seen people with this configuration, but is tricky)

While you can definitely rig the nano to work on a gimbal. I wouldn't put too much faith in the unit itself. It's more -sumer than pro. I've had so many issues with it that I hesitate to use it on paid gigs, especially high pressure situations.

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21 minutes ago, EphraimP said:

While you can definitely rig the nano to work on a gimbal. I wouldn't put too much faith in the unit itself. It's more -sumer than pro. I've had so many issues with it that I hesitate to use it on paid gigs, especially high pressure situations.

Agree, I still have the occasional freakout.

But the thing is, Im so bad at operating the gimbal and framing the shot and pulling focus at the same time that it rarely gets used. If I am outside I can stop down to 5.6 on the Zeiss and it is easier but not much. Still very large and unwieldy.

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4 hours ago, DanielVranic said:

Agree, I still have the occasional freakout.

But the thing is, Im so bad at operating the gimbal and framing the shot and pulling focus at the same time that it rarely gets used. If I am outside I can stop down to 5.6 on the Zeiss and it is easier but not much. Still very large and unwieldy.

I'm with you. I think reliable autofocus is key to shooting on a singlehanded gimbal, unless you're locking the focus and maintaining the right distance from your subject. Of course, I'm not the best gimbal operator and prefer handheld shooting.

I personally don't think pulling focus with a wireless system on a single handed gimbal is all that great an idea for a single shooter. If I were doing a lot of gimbal shooting and wanted to pull focus for myself, I'd probably build out my Ronin-S, or an S2, with a ring grip and Easy Rig type backpack stabilizer or the Tilta Float -- basically a support system that transfers some/all of the gimbal weight to my core so my right hand can focus on framing the shot and my left could run the focus wheel without having to provide stability. And of course I'd rig my Ninja V or another monitor to pull focus from instead of the camera's rear screen.

Both of those solutions are spendy and the bulkiness/rigging complications dilutes the simplicity of a good small gimbal. On the other hand, the type of shots you can get with a Arri Trinity style stabilizer system are dope. If I did a lot of music video content, I'd definitely buy the Tilta Float, which can work with the Ronin-S. Since I personally shoot mostly doc-style stuff, I'll probably going the Easy Rig route.

Do you still have the X-T3? If so, maybe make sure the firmware is up to the new version and play with autofocus settings for each lens you want to use to see if you can find a sweet spot for your intended use.

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15 hours ago, EphraimP said:

Do you still have the X-T3? If so, maybe make sure the firmware is up to the new version and play with autofocus settings for each lens you want to use to see if you can find a sweet spot for your intended use.

You definitely understand my stuggle right now!

I do have the XT3, its my main photo camera and I love it. I have never updated it so I will give that a good scouts try today.

After reading through, it seems like if there was a S5 that existed that had RAW output and a significantly improved AF that would be my ticket. Maybe a MK2.

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On 3/3/2021 at 9:52 AM, DanielVranic said:

You definitely understand my stuggle right now!

I do have the XT3, its my main photo camera and I love it. I have never updated it so I will give that a good scouts try today.

After reading through, it seems like if there was a S5 that existed that had RAW output and a significantly improved AF that would be my ticket. Maybe a MK2.

As an XT3 owner I must chime in and say while I do think the AF is slightly behind Sony, you definitely should give the update a go. It has really great eye af in video now with the update. I love shooting with the Fuji mainly for the awesome stock film profiles which I think just make it easy to shoot quick. If I was doing pro work i would probably play with FLog more but I mainly shoot eterna 

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On 3/2/2021 at 6:01 AM, DanielVranic said:

I unfortunately have never done a shoot with the budget for a 1st AC. So audio, all cameras, lighting is typically 100% me. This is a small-ish town in the midwest so there is not much to choose from.

Is the amount of money you get from these gigs really enough to justify a major equipment upgrade??? 

Are you getting paid enough that the clients really expect great color grading?

What made you decide that your a6500 and X-T3 weren't good enough? Was it something a paying client said to you? Or was it something you read on a forum somewhere?

If you still have the a6500 try looking up extrashot on youtube for his s-cinetone setting for the a7 III (not the a7S III, just the a7 III) and see if they might work well for the a6500. Yeah, the color science of the a6500 is different than that of the a7 III but I think it would get you in the ballpark. Otherwise, use cine 4 or just use the Portrait creative style with contrast, saturation and sharpness turned down.

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