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New Sony sensor has 21 stops dynamic range, 5120 native ISO - and destined for a video device NOT a smartphone!


Andrew Reid

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I'm a little confused about where this is in the development process. Is this a concept or do they have a functioning prototype which we can expect on the market in a couple years? Sometimes companies like to just drum up press (or distract from negative press) with pie in the sky concepts, like when Amazon announced its drone shipping concept when that is pretty much a fantasy at this point, or when Canon did a "camera of the future" concept a few years back which was like a science fiction vision of 20 years down the road. 

 

I'll also add that Sony is killing it bringing these cutting edge technologies to the masses, and finally starting to give us decent ergonomics to go with them. I tried the FS7 at PhotoPlus a couple weeks back and was blown away by that camera. C300 killer.

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They are pushing the boundaries of what's possible creatively with this sensor. Look beyond the specs, impressive though they are, to what they will enable.   Completely agree with Rich... its going

You need severe learning difficulties to struggle with the ergonomics of the a7s.  I mean so severe you've got close to zero motor functions and need a full time carer.  It's nearly impossible to stru

Yup. Art is created from limitations, not endless possibilities. Film is a medium used to speak a language, not a replicator of reality. Film and photography are the most confusing art form though, be

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I am selling my A7s. Its an ergonomic nightmare. And its AF is terrible. The Canon, other than its dynamic range IS A PERFECT CAMERA.

 

AF for cinema?... WTF? And it isn't actually bad at all. Pretty fast for stills given live-view on a full frame sensor. You want to see Canon's live view AF speed?... have fun with that.

 

And what Canon are we talking about here exactly? A DSLR? They have terrible ergonomics for video. Fine for stills.

 

When an idiot wanders onto the forum... I'm always wondering why they say the things they do... must be a reason. Weird.

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AF for cinema?... WTF? And it isn't actually bad at all. Pretty fast for stills given live-view on a full frame sensor. You want to see Canon's live view AF speed?... have fun with that.

 

And what Canon are we talking about here exactly? A DSLR? They have terrible ergonomics for video. Fine for stills.

 

When an idiot wanders onto the forum... I'm always wondering why they say the things they do... must be a reason. Weird.

 

You need severe learning difficulties to struggle with the ergonomics of the a7s.  I mean so severe you've got close to zero motor functions and need a full time carer.  It's nearly impossible to struggle with the a7s.  I love stupid trolls since they donlt even have the ability to upset people vie the internet.

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SONY has made a nice recovery from where they were about 6 yrs ago (company wide).  In the past few years, their camera / video division appears to have been working overtime.  I would say both SONY and Panasonic are the ones to keep an eye on.  

 

Panasonic is said to be showing a 4k revision to the AF100 at NAB 2015. If they can release a compelling product at a $5-6,000 price point, that in combination with the FS7 from SONY could take a lot of the wind out of the sales over at Canon.  A revised 4K C300 for $12-15,000 would be a hard sell, or at least could be depending on other factors.

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Back on topic, I believe the 36000 fps are just a technical measurement of what the sensor is capable of on paper, but I doubt it will be actually useable, not even in military or scientific environments. From what I've read, this "filtered" sensor would kinda need a "triple" exposure (R-G-B so that exact color info is collected per pixel, bringing its "real lfe" ISO values to about a third of what's technically capable (still high, though). At 36000 fps, what kind of shutter speed would we be talking about? Something like 1/100000? Respecting a 180º shutter angle, wouldn't it be 1/72000 for a bayer sensor and something around 1/216000 for this?

 

My maths could be way off, but the point is that the amount of light required to properly expose at the required shutter speeds (at least 1/40000) would make the 36000fps a technical capability rather than a useable feature (no missiles in super-duper slomo).

 

Still, If they managed to release a camera with a sensor with global shutter, total color accuracy, good resolution, noiseless 25000 ISO, 500fps and close to 20 stops of dynamic range, who wouldn't be sold?

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I was of course referring to AF for stills! 

 

With the Canon I can handhold it and change everything I need to with my right hand. I suppose I was therefore making the point that as a stills AND video camera I think the 5d is better for me

 

Why? Because it does OK with stills (nowhere near the quality of an A7R though) and really shitty with video unless you shoot raw and have 10 million terabytes to spare?

 

And A7S in low light is another matter... way better stills than the 5D mark III can even dream of!

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If you read my original post  - the one my comment you took against follows on from - I say "I can understand this sensor being used for scientific instruments, but what use is 36000fps for cinema".  Not to get petty about it, but I was in fact the first person on this thread to suggest such high frame rates would actually only be useful for scientific applications. You certainly didn't do so in your review. You just said 36000fps doesn't make sense for smartphones. As if it does for cinema!!!

 

You always take my posts as being antagonistic Andrew. If you have to do so and feel the need to comment on them, please at least make the effort to read them in the context in which they were written.

 

I think that the days of filmmaking as the base of talking is long gone . It more of a geek/gear talking now with the latest and greatest being the norm and everything else shit. Shooting at 21 stop you wont need to expose at all as you will be able to capture from the deepest shadows to the highest highlight with one shot, with super high ISO you wont need to light because you will able to use available light, with litro technology and infinite DOF no need to focus anymore, we just need some algorithm to be able to frame and compose for us and voila... One push button cinematography, the dream of the geek.

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Wow actually anyone believed this hype?

 

I prefer to wait for some proper testing like dxomark. Sony said 15 stop for the A7s and DXO showed about 13 stop in RAW. But they are not the only one, RED said dragon 16 to 18, dxomark test at 14.7 if I am not mistaken. One thing to take into account is highlight clipping. RED used to suffer from pink highlight which mean the blue channel has clipped before so it will register on charts which are just gray but in reality it is not true usable DR. The Sony tend to have some clipping with blues that clipped abruptly which is I guess the same phenomenon on some channel clipping before others.

 

The last thing to consider is what 21 stop of DR mean for the users. Everything will have to be graded quite heavily and the use of luts everytime, if else you will never know your exposure. All this will come to the same as the 5d3 raw, whoaw novel, and then in the end it will become such a hassle to use. The geek will always see that the more the better, for me there is always a threshold, 14.5 stop (my D800) is already very very good. Everything above this will now only become incremental. If you can't shoot with a camera with about 14 stop then you just won't with anything.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

I think that the days of filmmaking as the base of talking is long gone . It more of a geek/gear talking now with the latest and greatest being the norm and everything else shit. Shooting at 21 stop you wont need to expose at all as you will be able to capture from the deepest shadows to the highest highlight with one shot, with super high ISO you wont need to light because you will able to use available light, with litro technology and infinite DOF no need to focus anymore, we just need some algorithm to be able to frame and compose for us and voila... One push button cinematography, the dream of the geek.


No. You still need to set the exposure correctly otherwise you will get clipped highlights or noisy shadows. Like every other film or digital camera ever made. This just gives more information in the window while having a noiselss face inside. If you want a clipped window or a noisy face fine stay with old technology, but that doesn't mean those who want more information at both ends are less competent of cinematographers.

No. You still need to light. A cinematographer uses light to paint the scene artistcally and give an appropriate mood, cranking up the ISO to 100.000 does not do that, it doesn't light specific areas of the frame. There are lights we used to get a correct exposure by lighting the entire scene, these did not have any artistic value to us as cinematographers, and they were huge and expensive especially in dark environments. Sensetive cameras eliminate the need for that "exposure" lighting and gives us the freedom to just concentrate on "artistic" lighting.

No. If lytro technology was used for video, it wouldn't eliminate the need for setting correct focus, it would just mean the cinematographer has to do it in the editing suit vs on the field. Either don't make him any less of a cinematographer, they're the exact same art.

It's really strange why some people think the advancing of technology and image quality is a bad thing for us. If technology hadn't developed most of us here on this forum would not be filmmakers, because we wouldn't have access to 100.000 US dollar Red/alexas to get a 35mm image format and make movies. Technology drives art and develops talent. If you can give a cinematographer 30 stops of DR and 400.000 clean ISO and post focusing accurately it will make him a better artist. His images will have less clipping, and less noise, and less focus errors, and he wouldn't need to spend thousands and close the street to get exposure, all while not spending his life savings.

A rant but I really am bewildered by why some people don't encourage the development of technology and think they make us less of artists.
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For one you did not gasp/understand the irony of my post. The second thing is that the irony came from the fact that the debate (filmmaking community) is becoming 100% gear centric. As I said in my second post I am for technology advancing our art or more so for the indie/small budget film-makers giving us tool that we could only dream of 5/7 years ago since the start of the dslr revolution. The thing is that people are thinking that when you have a camera that can shoot clean above 6400 ISO you don't need to light, or have any knowledge of lighting. This is the same for DR and resolution. When you will have your scene with people inside and a window. You know the amount of post processing you will need to get proper exposure for both of them. If you just do some global contrast you will end with HDR type of images. Which will make people look shit. The only solution would be to use power windows and tracking in software like Davinci resolve. What a cinematographer would do would be to light the person inside and use some ND on the window. Yes it is more work, but that is the proper way and guaranteed to get better result, that is the skill of a Director of photography or cinematographer. This goes the same way for other example you talked above.

 

The typical example is the hype behind the A7s. What is the importance of all the high ISO/DR etc on the spec list when this camera cannot even do the basic right. What about shooting natural looking people with proper skin tone and not like shooting with some cross process magenta/green look already cook in the profile. You can watch endless dicussion on varoius website about people discussing about how to get at least ok skin look. It seem that you should have a phd in coulour space and gamut correction to get the most basic thing. I am not even talking about other problem as rolling shutter which is close to the Nikon D90 of 7 years ago in full frame look. Just because this camera has XYZ spec on paper.

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21 stops, although absolutely impressive, seems like a major overkill. when will there ever be a realistic situation where 21 stops of dr come in handy? 14 stops of the alexa seem more than enough. with all this dr you probably lose 1-2Bit of color depth from all the unused colorspace, no?

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Sorry if I sounded a bit offensive or too loud-voiced Danyl but I just don't understand those putting down new technology, not really particularly you.

If a cinematographer think artistic lighting and high ISOs are interchangeable then he's ignorant of the most basic rules of the job, it doesn't really have to do much with technology and it's not to blame for his ignorance.

Regarding some cameras having great specs yet missing frustrating basic points, I completely agree. A camera might have 4K resolution and 14 stops of DR and 14bit raw, but produces an inferior/unimpressive image compared to an 8bit 1080p camera because of the colour science or noise texture or digital artefacts like rolling shutter, aliasing, moire, and it might produce an unimpressive image because it doesn't give you easy way to expose and focus and change settings quickly (ergonomics), or lose power in minutes, have a teribble screen, doesn't record good audio, these things are not written in spec sheets and that's why I always recommend not to be impressed by specs before you actually test the camera yourself. Specs mean very little in the final performance of a camera, they really mean MUCH less than many think. Read the specs of a Scarlet vs a C300 and see which one ended up better for most cinematographers/videographers, look at the Alexa specs vs a Dragon and how many features shot on the Alexa vs Red, specs of a C100 vs A7s, etc. When I find people obssesing too much about specs I always like using the C100 example compared to the t2i. The specs of the C100 are s35 sensor, that shoots 1080p video and compresses it with H.264 to 8bit 4:2:0 to SD card. The t2i is s35mm sensor, 1080p, h.264, 8bit 4:2:0, to SD card. Reading specs you would be lead to believe they produce the same image or that the t2i is similar, which is why on forums the C100/300 are hated, they read as if they were t2i and for someone who did not use them and just read the specs it's quite normal to believe so, yet in real usage the t2i and c100 couldn't be farther apart.

Just like 8bit h.264 images are crap on some camera and great on others,
also raw ones are crap on some cameras and great on others, 4K is crap on some and great on others,
60p is crap on some and great on others,

specs don't mention this kind of information whether the implementation is crap or great, that's why we are blessed with reviewers like Andrew to tell us that most important missing part.

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Hmm I don't know! Human vision!?

 

Human vision = 120 million photo recepters ( think 120 mega pixels) in the space of a micro 4/3's lens circle in each eye.  About 7 million recepters (pixels) for color and the balance for luma and contrast etc.  Data being sent in real time, in parallel to multiple vision centers of the brain.  Not sure what the processor chip equivelent that reprsents, not to mention the chip speed read-out.

 

Dynamic range --- eyes = a static contrast ratio of 100:1, but a dynamic contrast ratio more like 1,000,000:1.  Oh and a pair of decent kit lenses.  

 

SONY has a wase to go I think ... but hey, you gotta start somewhere right .....  LOL !!!!

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