Canon rush out Firmware 2.0.4 for 5D Mk11

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Canon pull Firmware v2.0.3 due to sound issues

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What a mess…it took over 6 months to produce and due to lack of testers I assume…Canon have had to suspend the new 5D2 firmware because of sound issues. I don’t know what they are but I will update you as soon as I know.

Canon respond…
Recently we have discovered a malfunction that occurs with Firmware Version 2.0.3, in which the manual recording levels for C1/C2/C3 are changed and the camera becomes unable to record audio if the power is turned off (or if Auto power off takes effect) after registering “Sound Recording: Manual” in the camera user settings.
We apologize very sincerely for the inconvenience, but we are going to stop making this firmware available for download. For customers who have already updated to the new firmware, when using the camera with the mode dial set to C1/C2/C3, please either set the sound recording settings to Auto.
We are currently preparing firmware that will correct this malfunction. As soon as those preparations have been completed, we will let you know on this Web site. In the meantime, we apologize for the inconvenience this represents, but please wait until the fixed firmware is ready.

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Canon post new 2.0.3 firmware early (5D Mk11)

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Get your firmware here…

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Alister Chapman dips his toe in the murky HD DSLR water !

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As you may have seen from my earlier post I became the owner of the new Canon T2i (or 550D as it’s known in the UK) at the weekend. Clearly before using any camera in anger it’s important to see what it can and can’t do. I will say that I am not a Canon DSLR expert. I have been following the fuss and much admire some of the work done with these cameras by Phil Bloom, but frankly after playing with the Canon over the weekend I have to say I’m disappointed. Yes you can achieve shallow depth of field very easily and you do get a filmic look to the pictures, but look at the footage on a big monitor and it just looks soft. At first I wondered if this was the lens I was using, so I tried a couple of others including a nice Tamron 28mm prime. I tried different apertures, shutter speeds etc, but every clip I’ve taken looks soft. In isolation, on scenes with low detail this isn’t immediately apparent, but anything with lots of fine detail looks soft. Some of this is aliasing, look at the roof of the house in the T2i image, it appears to have diagonal roof tiles, this is a pretty typical aliasing artifact. I shot some closer shots of the buildings and the brickwork aliased like crazy.

Flowers, EX1 on left, T2i on the right.
Looking at the flowers picture you can see that the EX1 has picked up more of the subtle texture, or at least it has recorded more of the texture. I’m sure some of the Canon’s softness is due to compression artifacts. The other thing that I found is that it is tending to crush blacks a bit. I have played around with the picture styles and you can reduce this a bit, but there is very little detail in deep blacks, which would IMHO make grading tricky. The one good thing I did find was that it is very noise free at 200 and 400 asa, it’s also useable up to 800 asa or at a push 1600asa, so it would make a good camera for very low key scenes, provided you use a good fast lens. Looking at the Canon pictures there was something pleasing about the deep, almost crushed blacks. I think this helps contribute to the Canon DSLR “look” so I quickly threw together a new picture profile for the EX1/3 and PMW-350, but I’m afraid that the details of that will be the subject of another post, as I have work that I must do first! The EX images in the frame grabs were shot with this picture profile. As we all know the ergonomics of the video DSLR’s is pretty poor for video. It’s tricky to hold and you have to use an add on Loupe to make the LCD useable as a viewfinder. You can’t zoom mid shot and without peaking or zebras adjusting exposure and focus accurately is difficult. I was hoping to be able to use the 550D as a B camera for those situations where I need a small, discreet camera, but having seen the pictures, so far, for me it will be reserved for holidays and shooting where you not supposed to video and for shoots where supper shallow DoF is essential. I have to say I’m really disappointed, I wanted this camera to be so much better, I knew it would suffer from aliasing, but I wasn’t expecting the soft pictures, I guess some will say that the softness adds to the filmic look, but I’d much rather do that with some nice pro-mists or filtration in post production rather than starting out with soft pictures. Perhaps I’ve done something wrong? If I have please add a comment!

UPDATE: I was so convinced that I must be doing something wrong that I shot some more clips, this time with less harsh lighting. No, change however, the T2i is still soft and the new clips show just how big a problem aliasing is. You have to consider that the coloured moire patterns are recorded like that, no amount of grading will get rid of it. A small amount of diffusion on the camera should help, but then your going to have to work out how much to soften and diffuse each shot to make sure your not making the pictures even softer than they already are.

The aliasing issues on the Canons are well documented and well known. Yes you can reduce it’s effects by keeping the DoF shallow so that your backgrounds are always out of focus, but that restricts you to only shooting low detail objects such as faces and even then you need you make sure the person isn’t wearing a clothes with a fine pattern and that they don’t smile because you see lots of jaggies on their teeth. So this means you need some diffusion or softening in front of the lens.
One of the key reasons that the pictures from the Canons looks soft is due to aliasing. The high frequency harmonics generated by the aliasing on edges are softening the pictures and you can see this by rotating the camera and watching the picture soften and sharpen as the angles of edges change.
As for my lenses, no it’s not them softening the pictures. I can use them on the same camera to take beautiful pin sharp photographs. Switch the camera to video mode and I’m sorry but compared to a true 1080p camera it’s soft, more comparable to a 720p camera. In addition if my lenses were not sharp I would not get aliasing.
If you look on Vimeo at Phil Blooms latest clips take a look at the timelapse video “sky” that he did in Dubai. Look at the quality of that video, look at the gorgeous subtle textures in the sky and buildings, then compare it with one of his faces videos, they look soft by comparison. The difference: The timelapse video was shot by taking stills, where the camera is using the full resolution of the sensor, in video mode the Canon’s are discarding most of the sensors pixels to get the resolution down and the read rate up.
I’m sorry but until the aliasing is brought under control the Canon’s IMHO are not ready for prime time use. Sure you can make good looking web clips, but you can do that with many, many other cameras. The ONLY thing the Canons bring to the table is shallow DoF. In just about every other aspect they are lacking. Lower resolution, lower dynamic range, heat issues, limited clip duration, no audio control, no timecode, dreadful ergonomics for video.
Next time you watch a movie look at the DoF. It’s almost never taken to the ridiculous, un-natural extremes that has become the latest craze. Yes shallow DoF can be a useful tool for focusing attention on a particular subject, or to give separation between the subject and background, but consider what super shallow DoF will look like projected on a cinema screen or big screen TV as opposed to a small web video.

HDW : Strange…but if I had reported some of Alisters findings I would have been shot down in flames but it’s good to know other more technically astute video professionals have the same views on HD SLRs as me and if you follow Alisters blog as I do you will be interested to read that the BBC, Sky, Nat Geo, Discovery etc have barred their use. If you would like to read Alan Roberts assesment for the BBC then click here…

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“City of Lakes” Trailer concept film produced on Canon 5D/7D

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In September I traveled to Uaaipur, India to shoot a concept wedding film with a few of my great filmmaking friends. Kevin Shahinian wrote and directed this movie, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget! This is only the beginning of collaboration filmmaking, and I can’t wait to see where this takes weddings.

There are so many ways to tell a story…

And so much a marriage symbolizes. So many questions it tends to raise: What is love? What is faith? It was our hope to explore these themes in a far more dramatically engaging way than we felt possible in a traditional documentary… Perhaps there is more within this story then meets the eye.

In the fall of 2009, Melissa & Samir embarked on an incredible journey to Udaipur, India, to fulfill a lifelong dream of having their wedding in the country of their ancestry. This transcendent place, affectionately called the “CITY OF LAKES,” located in the breathtaking region of Rajasthan, would be the setting for their extravagant, three-day marriage celebration, and the backdrop of our unprecedented film production – shot entirely on-location. We believe this to be the first ever live event/scripted concept production ‘hybrid’ film produced on this scale.

We hope you enjoy the trailer for “CITY OF LAKES” and look forward to sharing the film with you soon.   by Kevin Shahinian

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Sony PMW-350K produces stunning shots when it counts !

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Having used my PMW-350K in anger all this week I can vouch for it’s fantastic performance. From PTC to operating theatres this camera produces stunning HD pictures. All let it be said with two MxM SDHC card adapters using 16Gb Transend class 6 SDHC cards.

Sony state in their bumf that for optimum results use class 10 SDHC cards but I think Sony are being extra cautious specifying class 10 cards when I have proved time after time class 6 works fine. Now to pin this down I don’t do any over and under cranking which may cause issues with class 6 cards.

I am producing a corporate induction DVD for NHS Lanarkshire at the moment and have found myself and camera in some interesting locations. Today I had to film a man with a trigger finger, this condition leaves the patient with a permanently curled up finger due to a tightening of a tendon. Although an operating theatre does not pose any low light issues it gave me a major problem with too much light !

The patient is wheeled in after being prep’t by the anaesthetist and is layed out on the operating table, interestingly this was to be a bloodless procedure a tourniquet was applied to the arm cutting off the blood supply. The arm is layed out and fastened  to the table then the light is switched on…blam…5 to 6 stops over exposure.

Although I had filmed in a theatre before I had not filmed with a 350 before. The 350 eats light but today it met it’s match…in order for me to film the hand and the surgeon I had to use 2 cameras, the other being the Sony NX5. I had to switch the filter wheel to 4 (ND 64) and dial in some shutter in order to compensate for the intense light on the patients hand.

It was sore on my eyes to stair at the patients lit hand…I personally think it’s brighter than it needs to be, 5-6 f stops is a lot of compensation. The pictures from the 350 are amazing, they almost jump out of the screen at you. I followed Alister Chapmans suggestions on picture profiles to take out some of the sharpening and the pictures are very punchy indeed.

I came out of the theatre later than I expected to set up a PTC (Piece to camera) in a board room, than was not as interesting as the theatre but it was a further part of the induction jigsaw.

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Panasonic DMC-G2 now with AVCHD Lite 720 50/60P

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Eighteen months after unveiling the worlds first Micro Four Thirds camera, Panasonic has introduced its successor- the Lumix DMC-G2, with touch control shooting. Built around the same body design as the G1, it records 720p HD videos in AVCHD Lite format and features a touch sensitive 460K dot 3.0″ LCD. Its advanced touch features allows shooting by just tapping the subject on the LCD. Other features include AF tracking, a dedicated movie mode and a faster Venus Engine HD II processor. We’ve had a pre-production example in the office and have put together a hands-on preview.Take motion picture recording to the next-level with new generation AVCHD Lite.

The DMC-G2 can record 1280 x 720 high-definition motion picture in AVCHD Lite that features long recording time and high compatibility with audio-visual equipments. Users can enjoy recording HD motion images taking maximum advantage of lens’ descriptiveness and interchangeability or the large sensor size.

The action starts at a single press of a dedicated button on the top while most of the settings for photo recording are succeeded, which is convenient when you record the same subject at the same situation in both photo and movie. HD Motion JPEG in 1280 x 720 can also be selected as an alternative movie recording format in addition to QVGA, VGA and WVGA, which is more compatible with PCs. High quality sound can be recorded with Dolby Digital Creator and optional accessory Stereo Microphone (DMW-MS1) can be attached to the G2. A Wind Cut function is also available to block out most of the noise from background wind.

Even video beginner can record excellent movies with DMC-G2 because the popular iA (Intelligent Auto) is also available in motion image recording. Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S.) helps prevent handshake when using high-powered zoom. Face Detection automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion on it so it always turns out beautifully. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. And Intelligent Scene Selector automatically switches between Portrait, Scenery, Close-up and Low Light modes according to the situation to optimize visual quality.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

iPad available in the US on 3rd April…UK left out in the cold !

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If you live in the US then all is fine…you are getting your iPad on the 3rd of April at the “unbelievable price” of $499.

If you live in the UK…we don’t have pricing let alone a delivery date.

This is appalling Apple have left the UK out to dry…it’s as if we don’t exist and you can bet we don’t get the iPad at the unbelievable price of £330

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All shot in one TAKE…FANTASTIC

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For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Canon Pre-announces Firmware update 2.0.3 for 5DMk11

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Canon today pre-announces the release of a firmware update for the multiple award-winning EOS 5D Mark II. Originally announced in late 2009, the update adds 24* and 25 frames per second (fps) recording to the camera’s EOS MOVIE video function, and will be available as a free download from the middle of March.

Developed following feedback from photographers and cinematographers, Firmware 2.0.3 further enhances the EOS 5D Mark II’s excellent video performance. The addition of new frame rates expands the camera’s video potential, providing filmmakers with the ability to shoot 1080p Full HD footage at 24fps (actual 23.976fps) – the optimum frame rate for cinematic video. 25fps support at both 1920×1080 and 640×480 resolutions will allow users to film at the frame rate required for the PAL broadcast standard, while the new firmware will also change the 30fps option to the NTSC video standard of 29.97fps.

A new histogram display for shooting movies in manual exposure, shutter-priority (Tv) and aperture-priority (Av) have been added, and exposure modes will also be available in movie mode. Improved audio functionality will allow users to set sound record levels manually using a sound-level meter displayed on the LCD screen. The audio sampling frequency has also been increased from 44.1KHz to 48KHz, providing the optimum audio signal typically required for professional or broadcast material.

With its full frame CMOS sensor and compatibility with Canon’s wide range of premium lenses, the EOS 5D Mark II is already recognised for its outstanding HD video performance. Launched in September 2008, the camera immediately created a wide range of new possibilities for photographers and videographers, and the addition of new frame rates and manual audio levels extends those possibilities even further – allowing movie makers to shoot stunning movies to suit practically any creative purpose.

Extreme sports photographer Richard Walch was one of the first to be given the chance to use the newly updated EOS 5D Mark II to shoot the snowboarding movie “I Love My Friends”. Commenting on the EOS 5D Mark II’s video performance, Richard said: “The addition of the new frame rates opens up a whole new range of possibilities. If you’re a cinematographer, independent film maker or just enthusiastic about making your own movies, get out there and give it a try”.   (Thanks to DPreview for this info)

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