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Alexa Bargain


Tim Sewell
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On 10/12/2021 at 8:02 AM, Parker said:

I'm as obsessed with the Alexa look as just about anyone. I had a major shoot on Friday, I was toying with renting the Amira, as it is very affordable in my area. I don't have a lot of experience actually using it though, so ultimately, despite having plenty of budget available to rent a big boy camera, I decided to just shoot it on my tried-and-true S1. I didn't even use pro res raw, just regular 5.9k internal hevc. I monitor using the GHAlex LUT on my ninja v, so I can nail the look "in-camera" before I grade. I think it's pretty dang close. This screengrab has zero adjustments or color alterations besides just dropping on the lut. 

If I can get 95% of the way there, and have higher resolution to boot, at the cost of maybe a stop or so of extreme highlight retention in certain situations, I think it really starts to be hard to justify, beyond just impressing clients and feeling super cool and hollywood. 

HarnessLead_unsharpened.thumb.jpg.e9c69b4cb805d731bcbb7c2ea0fb6739.jpg

Looks nice, but this shot looks great on any nearly any camera system. You really start to notice the difference when the lighting is more dynamic. There are limits.
 

I own the C70 and the details in the dark side of the face, light falling off, color gradients, etc, just don’t cut it. Yes, in most settings it looks really nice. Better for the high key look.

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On 10/15/2021 at 1:14 AM, BenEricson said:

Looks nice, but this shot looks great on any nearly any camera system. You really start to notice the difference when the lighting is more dynamic. There are limits.

The funny thing is, the bigger budget shoots I have been on, getting to use larger, nicer cinema cams, I usually also have a whole team of art design, beautiful set dec, gaffers and grip lighting everything so nicely, photogenic pro talent, hmu artists... By the time I get around to hitting the red button everything already looks incredible. Lighting is dialed, everything pre-planned, I don't really feel like I need the DR and flexibility of the high-end cine gear because it already looks incredible in-camera, and still would with much cheaper gear. 

Contrast that with lower budget, run-and-gun stuff, that's when I'm going to potentially miss white balance or not be lighting as well and having to push the camera harder. 

My point being, it's kind of ironic that on higher end work everything is so dialed in around the camera that raw, extreme DR, amazing color science, etc., is kind of a moot point, and it's on low budget work that I often really wish I could have that level of quality and flexibility to make up for other areas that are lacking. 

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4 hours ago, Parker said:

The funny thing is, the bigger budget shoots I have been on, getting to use larger, nicer cinema cams, I usually also have a whole team of art design, beautiful set dec, gaffers and grip lighting everything so nicely, photogenic pro talent, hmu artists... By the time I get around to hitting the red button everything already looks incredible. Lighting is dialed, everything pre-planned, I don't really feel like I need the DR and flexibility of the high-end cine gear because it already looks incredible in-camera, and still would with much cheaper gear. 

Contrast that with lower budget, run-and-gun stuff, that's when I'm going to potentially miss white balance or not be lighting as well and having to push the camera harder. 

My point being, it's kind of ironic that on higher end work everything is so dialed in around the camera that raw, extreme DR, amazing color science, etc., is kind of a moot point, and it's on low budget work that I often really wish I could have that level of quality and flexibility to make up for other areas that are lacking. 

Yeah, I've made that point a number of times, except relating to camera size, and it's frustrating as hell.

As soon as you want something smaller, it instantly comes with less.  Less bitrate, less bit-depth, less DR, less IQ, just... less.

It's like the logic seems to go:

  • Me: I'd like to have high image quality in a small and simple rig
  • The world: Then use a large camera
  • Me: You didn't hear me - I want a small simple rig
  • The world: Then use a 35Mbps 8-bit 8-stop point-and-shoot
  • Me: You didn't hear me - I want high image quality AND a small simple rig
  • The world: Here's an FS5, cine prime, 7" monitor, matte box filter set on an easy-rig
  • Me: No, I need something that is almost pocketable
  • The world: Why do you need something so small?
  • Me: In order to be able to take it where I want to film, which is places where "professional" filming isn't allowed
  • The world: If size matters then why do you need high image quality
  • Me: I shoot in uncontrolled conditions with no lighting or control and need lots of latitude in post
  • The world: Well, if you want both then..  um..  err.. well..  you shouldn't.  You should want what is available.
  • Me: Why don't you make something with high image quality in a small and simple rig?
  • The world: No-one wants it!
  • Me: *facepalm*
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The Sigma FP with its Full Frame 8bit RAW to SD card/12bit RAW to tiny SSD/External BRAW and ProRes Raw to HDMI/Removable and tiltable EVF/fully scalable lens options from tiny M mount to FF cine primes and all manual and electronic points in between has just jumped out of my jacket pocket and is screaming "are you not entertained ?"

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8 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

The Sigma FP with its Full Frame 8bit RAW to SD card/12bit RAW to tiny SSD/External BRAW and ProRes Raw to HDMI/Removable and tiltable EVF/fully scalable lens options from tiny M mount to FF cine primes and all manual and electronic points in between has just jumped out of my jacket pocket and is screaming "are you not entertained ?"

Yes, the FP is one of the closest contenders, along with the OG BMPCC, and GH5.  How I wish I could pick and choose aspects from each into a single perfect package!

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BMMCC @kye
I have not found footage from the Sigma yet that i can i say i liked. I coupled my Lumix S1 with a 10mm Tevidon in Hd pixel mode. That could be my Bmpcc. Just need the right adapter without wiggling. Got a Bmmcc coming its way, proving gas is dumb and never ending.:)

Back to topic.:) A fully rigged Amira is a heavy beast already despite the fact that they call it a perfectly balanced shoulder camera. Alexa is not bargain on your shoulder for sure.

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24 minutes ago, PannySVHS said:

BMMCC @kye
I have not found footage from the Sigma yet that i can i say i liked. I coupled my Lumix S1 with a 10mm Tevidon in Hd pixel mode. That could be my Bmpcc. Just need the right adapter without wiggling. Got a Bmmcc coming its way, proving gas is dumb and never ending.:)

Back to topic.:) A fully rigged Amira is a heavy beast already despite the fact that they call it a perfectly balanced shoulder camera. Alexa is not bargain on your shoulder for sure.

BMMCC is small until you mount a monitor on it, then it's the size of a FF DSLR.  I know, I've tried.  The OG BMPCC was my next attempt and discovered that the screen is polarised so it's not compatible with polarised sunglasses.  *sigh*

The FP would be a great candidate for Prores XQ which is 12-bit 4:4:4 and 396Mbps FHD / 1591Mbps UHD, compared to the FP RAW 12-bit 610Mbps FHD / 2400Mbps UHD.   The FP can do 1670Mbps internally (UHD 8-bit 25fps) so XQ would mean it could get UHD 12-bit 4:4:4 internal recording.  It could also open up the possibility of recording in a LOG format, giving 12-bit LOG which (if downscaling in-camera) could be superior to 12-bit Linear.

You'd have to learn how to grade the FP images, but with that much data getting any look you want is a matter of skill in post, not opportunity from the equipment.

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I think I prefer the look of Sigma fp footage over the S1 but they seem like they couldn’t be much more different given they’re both L mount and have similar sensors.

S1 V Log dynamic range is outstanding imo and might as well be Alexa-level. The HEVC 6K codec is robust. At base ISO (640) there’s +6 stops of highlight dynamic range (dynamic range over 18% gray) to Arri’s +7.3.

Whereas at base 100 ISO I think the fp has about +2.5 stops of highlight dynamic range and 8 bit raw doesn't let you dig too deep into the shadows either. It also has more aliasing. And no IBIS or EVF.

But where the S1 falls short imo is in color and texture, where the fp seems to excel. I’m not saying the S1 is terrible here, but the color isn’t as nice to me subjectively and the HEVC codec smooths out the noise.

So to me the fp is the ideal A cam for someone (not me) and the S1 is the ideal B cam or low budget production cam for almost anyone. It’s technically on par with Venice or Alexa except for the skew imo and is wildly versatile. 

(At least with Resolve's highlight algorithm enabled, I think the P4K and P6K are almost on par with an Alexa technically, too, and have nice color and texture to the image. But ergonomically I worry they aren’t so hot. FX3 seems nice and maybe the best deal out there but somewhat expensive.)

I have found this to be true in post, too. The bigger the job, the better the resources, the easier it usually is. But one-man-band stuff can pay better I guess, and affords more flexibility I suppose.

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7 hours ago, HockeyFan12 said:

I think I prefer the look of Sigma fp footage over the S1 but they seem like they couldn’t be much more different given they’re both L mount and have similar sensors.

S1 V Log dynamic range is outstanding imo and might as well be Alexa-level. The HEVC 6K codec is robust. At base ISO (640) there’s +6 stops of highlight dynamic range (dynamic range over 18% gray) to Arri’s +7.3.

Whereas at base 100 ISO I think the fp has about +2.5 stops of highlight dynamic range and 8 bit raw doesn't let you dig too deep into the shadows either. It also has more aliasing. And no IBIS or EVF.

But where the S1 falls short imo is in color and texture, where the fp seems to excel. I’m not saying the S1 is terrible here, but the color isn’t as nice to me subjectively and the HEVC codec smooths out the noise.

So to me the fp is the ideal A cam for someone (not me) and the S1 is the ideal B cam or low budget production cam for almost anyone. It’s technically on par with Venice or Alexa except for the skew imo and is wildly versatile. 

(At least with Resolve's highlight algorithm enabled, I think the P4K and P6K are almost on par with an Alexa technically, too, and have nice color and texture to the image. But ergonomically I worry they aren’t so hot. FX3 seems nice and maybe the best deal out there but somewhat expensive.)

I have found this to be true in post, too. The bigger the job, the better the resources, the easier it usually is. But one-man-band stuff can pay better I guess, and affords more flexibility I suppose.

Yeah having finally shot with an Alexa(owning one) there is definitely something to the image that is just not there on lower end cameras. Definitely more highlight detail than the S1 though its only really about a stop. The noise is a lot more pleasing and uniform. 

Being able to monitor and see an accurate REC709 image is amazing. Its like seeing for the first time lol. 

I really wish cheaper cameras had better monitoring or REC709 lut viewing options. 

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17 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

Yeah having finally shot with an Alexa(owning one) there is definitely something to the image that is just not there on lower end cameras. Definitely more highlight detail than the S1 though its only really about a stop. The noise is a lot more pleasing and uniform. 

Being able to monitor and see an accurate REC709 image is amazing. Its like seeing for the first time lol. 

I really wish cheaper cameras had better monitoring or REC709 lut viewing options. 

Yeah, it's pretty crazy that in some ways (not weight or battery life, admittedly) that the Alexa is the easiest thing to use next to an iPhone. Simple intuitive interface, simple workflows in post. 

Makes me miss the simplicity of t2i neutral, which always looked good. 

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On 10/16/2021 at 10:49 PM, Parker said:

The funny thing is, the bigger budget shoots I have been on, getting to use larger, nicer cinema cams, I usually also have a whole team of art design, beautiful set dec, gaffers and grip lighting everything so nicely, photogenic pro talent, hmu artists... By the time I get around to hitting the red button everything already looks incredible. Lighting is dialed, everything pre-planned, I don't really feel like I need the DR and flexibility of the high-end cine gear because it already looks incredible in-camera, and still would with much cheaper gear. 

Contrast that with lower budget, run-and-gun stuff, that's when I'm going to potentially miss white balance or not be lighting as well and having to push the camera harder. 

My point being, it's kind of ironic that on higher end work everything is so dialed in around the camera that raw, extreme DR, amazing color science, etc., is kind of a moot point, and it's on low budget work that I often really wish I could have that level of quality and flexibility to make up for other areas that are lacking. 

Surprisingly there are some pretty big productions that are pretty rushed. I was reading an article that interviewed one of the DPs on the Netflix's The Punisher. He had one day to scout the location and plan for lighting the day before the shoot. This was for a pretty large action sequence as well. Stuff like that seems pretty common in this age of high end, high output, quick turn around streaming shows. 

But yeah I get your point.

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I had a think about this last year.

End of the day an Alexa classic is a massive heavy 1080p camera which, although it produces a phenomenal image, was designed for crew work and is losing ground now.

I now use an S1H recording externally to BRAW, plus GH Alex LUTS and it's close enough for me, plus i can shoot entirely solo and get good results.

So TBH I think they need to come down a bit more in price.

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2 hours ago, jgharding said:

I had a think about this last year.

End of the day an Alexa classic is a massive heavy 1080p camera which, although it produces a phenomenal image, was designed for crew work and is losing ground now.

I now use an S1H recording externally to BRAW, plus GH Alex LUTS and it's close enough for me, plus i can shoot entirely solo and get good results.

So TBH I think they need to come down a bit more in price.

The ARRI name is keeping it up there. Also the fact that ARRI sensors have barely changed since the Classic so you are still getting that industry standard image. 

You can find them for good deals if you're patient. The support gear and media isn't cheap though. 

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6 hours ago, jgharding said:

I had a think about this last year.

End of the day an Alexa classic is a massive heavy 1080p camera which, although it produces a phenomenal image, was designed for crew work and is losing ground now.

I now use an S1H recording externally to BRAW, plus GH Alex LUTS and it's close enough for me, plus i can shoot entirely solo and get good results.

So TBH I think they need to come down a bit more in price.

I was thinking about the GH6 last week.

End of the day a GH6 is a relatively small prosumer camera which, although it produces a wonderful image from a small package was designed for people who don't have much money and with a MFT mount is losing ground now.

I use a GH5 and it's pretty good, and the GH6 is unlikely to offer an enormous upgrade for what I do.

So TBH I think the GH6 should completely violate the laws of supply and demand and be released at $299.

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