Rick Young takes BlackMagics Cinema Camera out for a spin

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Canon C100 v Sony FS700 “Is there a comparison ?”

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With both camps having updated their Super 35mm cameras some would say Sony have upscaled while Canon have definitely downscaled but both at a similar price bracket.

With both cameras recording AVCHD the Sony has the edge with 28Mbps 1920 x 1080 50p while the Canon is only 24Mbps 1920 x 1080 50i.

Two features that the Sony has over the Canon is the 10x Full HD slow motion and the upgradable 2-4K sensor.

To be frank I think the C100 is £2K dearer than it should be to stand a chance against the FS700 but remember slow motion albeit 10x Full HD is a gimmick and to date no one has seen the 4K capable picture from the FS700.

If you are a C300 owner like myself a smaller C100 might just be a cracking B camera, not having an HD SDI socket is stupid and the C100 is 4:2:0 colour space might not be as punchy as the C300.

If you own Canon lenses the C100 would be the better choice plus the Canon is of a higher build quality than the plasticky FS700.

I actually like the thought of a smaller “C300” and depending on picture quality would be a far more practical camera for run and gun.

Q. If I had the choice between the FS700 and the C100

A. That will depend on picture quality, if the C100 almost matches the C300 and the familiarity of the two cameras would draw me towards the Canon. The FS700 has its own issues and one of them seems to be a compromise between the 2K and 4K chip set being a tad more noisy than the FS100. The 10x super slow motion would be useful but not essential.

My heart tells me the C100, my professional practical side tells me the FS700 but its all down to picture quality in the end, I personally have not seen the picture out of the FS700 nor the C100. Picture quality is upmost and is going to make or break the C100 for C300 owners !

Final word : I think Canon have underestimated the pulling power of the FS700 especially having the 10x slow motion feature, you can use your Canon glass on the FS100 using a Metabones adapter but the crucial mistake for me is the 4:2:0 colour space, even the XF305 has 4:2:2 and matching both cameras (C300/XF305) can be a pain so my bet is that the C100 won’t be as spectacular picture wise as the C300 which is a shame.

We all new Canon would bring out a watered down C300 at some stage and personally I do like the new look, especially the XLRs and taking the LCD off the top of the camera, we now have more large sensor cameras than I ever thought possible…is there a market for 9 competing cameras !


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Canon launch the new C100 (Smaller than the C300)

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EOS C100

With Canon’s Super 35mm 8.3 Megapixel Bayer-filtered CMOS sensor at its core, the EOS C100 combines exceptional image quality with a design approximately 15% smaller than the advanced EOS C300. The camera’s powerful imaging system enables the same processing as three-chip RGB systems, delivering exceptional colour, wide dynamic range and proven low light performance, while extensive NLE support makes it suitable for a wide range of users and production purposes. With Canon’s EF mount users have immediate access to over 60 class-leading EF lenses, as well as the freedom to experiment with the company’s expanding EF Cinema Lens line-up.


  • 8.3 Megapixel Super 35mm CMOS sensor; Full HD.
  • High sensitivity, low noise.
  • 24Mbps AVCHD to SD cards.
  • Automatic shooting functions.
  • Interchangeable EF lenses.
  • Canon Log Gamma.
  • Compact, modular, lightweight.
  • Professional audio.
  • Seamless workflow integration.
  • CPS video support.

Designed to offer leading quality and portability, the EOS C100 features a specification designed around the needs of single operators. Its advanced imaging system utilises the widely used AVCHD codec, with the CMOS sensor recording 1920×1080 (Full HD) resolution video to SD cards (*1) at 24Mbps with 4:2:0 colour sampling – delivering sharp, vivid, professional-quality video. Uncompressed video can also be output directly to external recorders via an integrated HDMI terminal, complete with embedded timecode data.

Equipped to provide exceptional performance, the EOS C100 allows users to capture high quality images for a range of creative outputs. Support for 24/25/30p and 50/60i frame rates offers flexibility, and an ISO range of 320-20,000 provides extensive exposure control and low noise in all lighting conditions. A new Wide Dynamic Range gamma setting makes it possible to shoot in demanding, high contrast situations – achieving a dynamic range of up to 800% without the need for extensive colour grading in post-production. Additionally, Canon Log Gamma enables the capture of high quality video that’s rich in exposure latitude and dynamic range, and ensures footage has a consistent look and feel when used alongside other Cinema EOS cameras in multi-camera shoots.

As well as full manual control, the EOS C100 integrates a range of new automatic features to support independent operators, such as documentary makers or news shooters. A new One Shot AF button enables users to instantly check focus, with the central image area automatically checked prior to recording. Push Auto Iris evaluates exposure and makes any required adjustments before shooting, while new Auto White Balance uses the power of Canon’s DIGIC DV III image processor to detect and balance colour information – allowing operators to focus on the story in front of them.

A new graphical user interface enables videographers to conveniently adjust standard camera settings using the LCD screen. Operators can fine-tune Gamma settings, with the camera displaying both ‘before’ and ‘after’ curves on-screen, while White Balance settings can be altered using the camera’s joystick lever, with a colour/plane graphic displaying the amount of compensation being applied in real time. Additionally, support for continuous, automatic focus and iris adjustment will be added by a firmware update in 2013, providing fast, smooth performance when used with specified models in Canon’s range of EF Stepper Motor (STM) lenses.

The EOS C100 also offers highly flexible storage, recording to two SD card slots. Users can record to both cards simultaneously with Double Slot Recording or use Relay Recording to automatically switch across memory cards when the one in use becomes full. In-camera down-conversion also allows operators to convert HD footage stored on one card to SD resolution on the other – ideal for operators who want to reduce the size or resolution of footage before transferring or web hosting.

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

Sony Bashing and the M25

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Someone has accused me of Sony bashing over the last few posts but the truth of the matter is that Sony are the only company to produce cameras in the last few weeks with the PMW-100, PMW-200 and the NEX-EA50, I must also say that this accusation did not come from Sony themselves.

Panasonic have just released the AG-AC90, JVC have still not produced any production models of their HM600 and HM650 camcorders and not a jot from Canon…till the C100 appeared !

If companies decide to brand their cameras as “professional” then they must be prepared to take constructive criticism when that certain product does not come up to a professional standard.

As a professional I aim to produce a product to the best of my ability and I need cameras that are fit for purpose, there’s no point filming houses being built if your camera introduces moire patterning in the brickwork which is why I do not care for DSLR’s, film cameras with compromise.

The big four video manufacturers have watched sales dwindle as people have switched over to DSLRs with their shallow depth of field and compactness, sadly for video professionals companies like Sony tried to emulate the compactness with the FS100, producing a cracking picture but no ND filters on a camera that soaks in light was madness, hence the very popular FS700…with ND filters !

The F3 was Sonys big step into medium to lower broadcast drama with it’s Super 35mm sensor and fantastic low light capabilities but the lack of 50Mbps was to be the straw that broke the F3s back when the Canon C300 was announced with it’s Super 35mm sensor, low light, low noise and that all important 50Mbps Full HD, the XLRs on the control panel via two umbilical leads are thoughtless but the pictures more than make up for the C300s design flaw.


The Sony F3 designers choose to give us a PL mount allowing a variety of lenses including Nikon but the C300 allows Canon lenses with full electronic feedback to the LCD and viewfinder a feature I feel is essential when using lenses in a SDoF environment.

These are just a few comparisons and lets not forget Alister Chapman sold his C300 in favour of the Sony F3 so it’s not a full 100% satisfaction rate with Canon either.

A fellow professional told me no camera is perfect we all have differing ideas as to what is perfect but as I pointed out in a recent post Sony are easy to compare because they are the only company to date to produce four large sensor camcorders within a year and two XDCAM PMW handheld camcorders within the space of weeks.

I have no gripe with Sony, I have owned an EX1, EX3, PMW-350, FS100 and two NX70s so Sony have had more than their fair share of my hard earned cash over the last three years or so with my name on a PMW-200.

My main gripe is that if you don’t stay within the London M25 orbital you are not offered cameras for review which is shameful and that goes for all four manufacturers, which is why honest camcorder reviews are hard to source on the internet, I have had to own the majority of camcorders in order to review them with a lot of help from H Preston Media.

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

Dan Chung looks over the new Sony NEX-EA50 with a hesitant Sony “expert”

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Once again this interview proves that Sony are not only cagey about their new EA50 camcorder but don’t understand why leaving off ND filters is such a problem. Dan Chung asks the so called Sony expert “why did you not include ND filters” the chap answers ” you can use mechanical shutter to help adjust the light”…He obviously does not understand the concept of using a large sensor camcorder !

Then Dan asks is it the same sensor as the NEX 5 and VG20, once again he prefers not to answer the question in other words he doesn’t know or he does not want to admit to a moire issue.

Is the HDMI 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 Mr Sony can’t answer that simple question.

All this proves what I have suspected all along, Sony throw cameras at technicians to design with little thought as to what the end user needs, the lack of ND is a classic example.

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

Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 (£600) Canon fit for the Canon C300

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During the last week I have filmed 9 interviews with my Canon C300 using the Canon 18-55mm f2.8 or the Canon 70-200mm f4 lens.

It’s become apparent that I need a zoom that gets me a bit more closer to my subject than the 55mm (82 with 1.5x crop), the only focal length that fits the bill is the 24-70mm zoom lens.

Looking at my options and to be quite frank there was only one option the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 at £600 as the Canon is still on back order and costs a whopping £2300.

I am of the opinion that the Canon is not 4x better than the Sigma not even twice as good so it was easy to plum for the lens I could afford, the Sigma and I am delighted with it.

This is the 24mm (36 with 1.5 crop) end of the lens as you can see due to it’s ability to focus up to 40cm the background is out of focus taken with the Canon C300 onto SD card.

I have been known to be a snob when it came to glass but the £600 Sigma is a fantastic lens for the money, well built and sharp at f2.8 both wide and tight.

I am certainly not prepared to buy into Canon’s version at almost 4x the price when I know only too well that it’s not 4x better !

A reader commented that the Canon is “Par focal” which means you can set focus on a tight shot and when you pull back it’s still in focus, I looked at Canon’s official sight and it does not mention that the lens is par focal but this prompted me to test the Sigma with my resolution chart and hey presto it also stays in focus as you would expect from a good quality ENG lens.

British Journal of Photography
’The Sigma seems comparable to the current Canon wide open… and sharper centrally than the Nikkor. The extra sharpness over the APS-C area at f/2.8 is good news as many of these lenses will be used on APS-C cameras to take advantage of f/2.8 central AF sensor accuracy. The HSM focusing is a great improvement over earlier models, and is just as smooth and silent as the branded equivalents, with similar manual override options. Colour transmission, contrast and the look of the image are hard to fault. Resistance to flare is good. Good sharpness counts more than smooth bokeh, and it’s certainly got that.’The 24-70mm f2.8 Sigma will be my standard interview lens for the forseable future.

Digital Photographer
’The new 24-70mm f2.8 IF EX DG HSM, to give it its full-name, hints at some of the new features, but it’s in the flesh that the lens impresses most. Build quality is equally impressive, several cuts above Sigma’s more consumer-orientated model, and feels solid and durable. The resolution is excellent in the mid-range at 35mm from corner to corner, easily matching the highly regarded Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8 L. It’s similar story at 70mm. It has superb contrast, excellent colour rendition and amazingly consistent resolution.’


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

Canon C300 unbeatable price £8899 plus vat at H Preston Media

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NOTE : Body only lens not included.

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

Camcorder Design PART TWO “The crux of the matter”

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There is a level of confusion when it comes to cinematic camcorders and it’s maybe this “confusion” that is causing our boys and girls in Japan to keep releasing the wrong spec camcorders.

My good friend Frank Glencairn made a very valid point…“But I think there is an obsession going on to have a “one-does-it-all-self-contained” camera. Something that swapped over from the DSLR guys. Have you ever heard of a film camera that comes with a battery or build in ND filters? If you coming from film, those things don’t bother you. If you come from shooting video with photo cameras or ENG work, it’s a different game. Now all that mixes up and everyone has different wishes. That’s why I think, a super modular camera – think of a box with user-swappable sensors, and other boxes with other functions that attach to it (yes a bit like RED, but more sophisticated)plus an open software/firmware – that’s the future. At least I wish it would be the future. Build a camera to your need, money, budget, and job. That would be cool.”

Frank is a very technical, practical chap and what he cant afford he builds himself but Frank is the exception to that rule most of us “put up” with what we are given and have a work around to compensate.

We are stuck in the past when it comes to cinematic camera design with some orphans of the present for good measure, let me explain. We look to what was done in the past like the cine camera as Frank quite rightly pointed out it had no ND filters, thats because a lot of cine cameras needed a lot of light in the first place plus screw on ND filter sets were all the rage.

Most cine cameras had a choice of 18 or 24 frames per second and it was only in the early seventies that Super 8mm film came with a magnetic sound stripe, professional recordings were very complicated with a 16mm Bolex sending a signal via a cable to a sound recorder called a Nagra, a 1/4″ tape was used and the pulse from the camera was recorded on a separate track in order to sync the pictures and sound at the edit stage.

“Just because it did not happen in the past does not mean it cant happen in the future”…Take servo zoom lenses the new Sony EA50 is the first large sensor camcorder to appear with a powered zoom as standard and thats a big bonus for camera operators who have been used to a zoom lens. Professional Cinematic cameras in the past did not have powered zooms simply because the glass was not good enough and the servo would take too much power.

16mm cameras were usually a strange shape to accommodate the 16mm film magazine, something that’s not an issue with todays cameras.

Getting back to today, we have come through a phase using DSLRs in order to get a shallow depth of field once again the size of the DSLR should not have any bearing as to the size of a cinematic video camera. Sony made this mistake with the FS100, trying to emulate the compactness of the DSLR while trying to make the camera perform like a video camera.

Forget the past…forget the DSLR, concentrate on traditional camcorder designs, ARRI are taking the cinematic world by storm producing a camera fit for purpose, cameramen/women like the design, all the correct buttons, switches and connectors, frame rates to die for as well as 4:4:4 12bit processing.

The Alexa is only an example for me it’s too dear and far to heavy but Sony, Panasonic and Canon should take stock of the Alexa and stop trying to produce cameras that are far too small with cramped small buttons, viewfinders in the wrong place, 8 bit processing and give us cinematic cameras we can be proud of.

Sony…They have the F65 granted but for smaller budget TV drama the F3 with 50Mbps would be far more useful.

Panasonic…The AF101 is tired in comparison with the competition, lower resolution and needs a decent Hi Rez viewfinder, 10bit processing would also be an improvement.

Canon…The C300/C500 suffer the same fate by having the XLRs on that stupid control panel, please make sure V2 of the 300/500 is bigger to allow XLRs and controls onto the body itself and please include a 3 position Gain and WB switches please, 10 bit processing on the 300 would also be an improvement as would 1080 50p.


So lets stop trying to copy the past, more cinematic cameras with at least the ability to have a servo zoom like the new NEX-EA50, I must point out that the PMW-F3 has had an on board zoom control since day one and Sony did bring out a zoom lens for the camera.

Lets get away from small cameras for the sake of it, all you do by constricting a cameras size is buttons get smaller and the camera becomes a fiddle to work with, most professional cameramen /women by-passed the DSLR phase, size does matter, make the cameras slightly bigger to give us full manual controls on the body and in Canons sake the XLRs on the body of the C300 !

Get away from this ridiculous compulsion for “various” models of the same camera, bring out a camera fit for purpose, the F3 would benefit greatly by having 50Mbps and a decent viewfinder, stop this rot of making cameras that fall short of what the end user needs.

As a breed camera people don’t like add ons like external recorders it’s one more link in the chain to go wrong !

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

MovieMachine.tv from Rick Young

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Rick Young is back bigger and better with his new web site www.moviemachine.tv

Rick a cameraman who loves everything Sony uses an F3, EX3 and two EX1r’s in his exploits around the world, hosts UKFCUG (UK Final Cut Users Group) is just finishing off a book all about editing with FCPX, he will be sending me a copy to review.

Take a look at his new web site just launched this week (see link above).


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

Camcorder Design PART ONE “Where do they get their ideas from”

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Before I start on my soap box can I just start by saying that I have not spoken to any camcorder designers in the making of this blog.

So to the burning question “Who decides on the specifications of a camera while its on the drawing board” ?  Its become patently obvious over the last year or so that those who design camcorders are not the same people who use or need them !

Lets have a look at Sony’s four large sensor camcorders to appear over the last fifteen months or so…

Here is the best of the bunch, the Sony PMW-F3 in action, now this camera is superb in low light, produces fantastic pictures but has two immediate failings…it only shoots 35Mbps onto SxS cards and the viewfinder is appalling.

WHO designed the F3, why was the decision taken to run the camera at HD news resolution (35Mbps) when the camera was clearly designed to take over from the likes of the 750 with 35mm adapter. This camera would have sold twice the amount had it produced 50Mbps from day one.

Secondly WHO designes a £15K camcorder with such an appalling viewfinder, forcing every camera operator to spend a further 1-2K on an external viewfinder like a Zacuto EVF or the Alphatron EVF.

This camera came out just over a year ago and still no sign of a 50Mbps model, anyone who uses the current camera in HD television production is forced to use an external HD recorder in order to achieve full HD TV specification which is why Sony have lost a ton of sales to the Canon C300 which I may add is far from perfect but does cut the 50Mbps mustard.

Den Lennie and Alister Chapman are the only two cameramen I know who have been in a pre production meeting with Sony engineers and the outcome was the NEX-FS100 which came out just under a year ago.

Even with two very accomplished cameramen giving Sony their ideas, they still managed to get it wrong…again…No ND filters, a compromised viewfinder/LCD design, no HD-SDI socket and only one media slot.

The FS100 which I personally owned for six months was a very good camera with an excellent quiet picture and a cinematic look to die for but you had to work twice as hard to get those dreamlike pictures with vari filters and external EVFs.

Den Lennie seen above loves his FS100 so much so that he compares it to a 16mm Bolex cinematic camera, “It’s the Bolex of today”.

My good friend Frank Glencairn filming with the FS700 the son of the FS100, this has to one of Sony’s best kept secrets but a strange move to update the FS100 in less than 8 months.

Sony by this time are haemorrhaging sales to the Canon C300 and need to bring out a stop gap camera hence the 250 frames per second super slow mo full HD FS700 with a 4K firmware updatable chip set.

Once again no dual media slot and a compromised viewfinder/LCD, as you can see above Frank does not even use the FS700s LCD.

Never seen a FS700 in the flesh so I can’t comment on picture quality but I have it in authority that its slightly noisier than the FS100 due to the 4K chip.

Here we have Sony’s large sensor (LS) camera number four the new NEX-EA50, finally a camera that looks like a traditional camcorder, this camera isn’t due till November 2012 but it is the first LS camcorder with a servo zoom “E” mount lens…fantastic.

A viewfinder/LCD that is in the correct position…fantastic.

Semi shoulder mount, dual XLR inputs, picture profiles, gain switch but Sony decide to down scale the chip from the preferred Super 35mm (FS100/700) to the APS-C as featured on the domestic Sony VG-20. We all know the EA50 is not aimed at the top end but it would it not be better to have as many sales as possible than restrict it to the event side of the business.

Sony also decide to omit ND filters which has been proven by many a cameraman/woman to be almost critical in achieving a shallow depth of field in bright filming conditions.

You see my dilemma, Sony for some reason keep compromising their large sensor cameras when they now have plenty of feedback from blogs like this who keep telling them where they are going wrong.

Why produce a camera like the EA50 and compromise it with an known sensor that produces moire patterning and worst of all totally ignore the professional video community by leaving off ND filters, yet again !

Sony are more than capable with cracking camcorders like the very popular PMW-500, the defacto HD camcorder for HD television documentary work running at the magical 50Mbps, this camera was produced on the back of the ever popular PMW-350 which I owned and loved.

So why on earth are we getting a string of LS camcorders that never reach the perfect PMW-500 Gold Standard, only Sony know this one, but you can be assured that we will see a 50Mbps F3 sometime soon and hopefully with a Hi-Rez viewfinder that swivels up and down as seen on the EA50.

Panasonic (AF101) and Canon (C300) are not much better but as Sony seem to be on a large sensor roll they are the easiest of all three companies to compare with the fourth model on its way.

So if you are a large sensor camcorder designer who just happens to live in Japan…stop producing cameras that just fall short of perfect, all you do is compromise your manufacturers ability to make plenty of Yen or worse still, hand over plenty of Yen to a competitor !…listen to us…the people who use your design !!!

Professional people need professional tools to work with lets turn it on it’s head…I have now been appointed as the new IT specialist for Sony camera design, so lets start with a 14″ SVG display panel for all your CAD work and a PC with 2G ram, a basic graphics card with 50GB of hard drive space…now you start to see how constricting our side of the fence is when it comes to LS video cameras.

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

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