Matt Davis “First Impressions of the new Sony PXW-Z100 camcorder”

Categories: Miscellaneous 5 Comments

Matt-Davis

Please be aware that Matt was given rightly or wrongly a prototype to “play” with so his first impressions relate to using this camcorder within his own field of expertise.

Matt-D

Matt “This video had to be mostly about what is 4K, because unfortunately my review unit was a hand built prototype – the image quality had not been finalised and was not representative of the final quality. I could ingest it, play with it, test the workflow, make ‘eyeball’ judgements about things like dynamic range, but we were holding out for a software update that would bring the image quality up to where it should be – and that happened at IBC. So you’ll have to wait a little longer for ‘real’ image quality.”

Sony PXW Z100 – First Impressions from Matt Davis on Vimeo.

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Why I used the Lumix GH3 for IBC

Categories: Miscellaneous 13 Comments

GH3

Having covered IBC twice in the past I knew it was a daunting task ahead of me to cover fifteen companies in three days, the place is so big, remember not everyone is available to be interviewed when you turn up, Sony being a case in hand.

I turned up to Sony to discover their shooting gallery was a three piece jazz band belting out music at a level drowning out any chance of a decent interview with Bill Drummond, so we had to arrange a re-shoot on the Sunday at the shooting gallery when the band were on their break.

As I turned up on the Friday Richard Payne from Holdan asked me if I would help him cover a half hour slot over the three days from 3.30-4pm so as you can imagine I had to be at the Teradek studio for 3.15 every day cutting out a further 3 hours of filming.

My last trip to IBC which was 2 years ago saw me using the Panasonic AF101 for interviews and it was a pig to carry the equipment needed for the that job so this year was to be a challenge to cut down on the kit.

A fly in the ointment came with the news that I was to film a documentary of the Teradek glass studio, this gave me the added problem of needing a high quality low light camera as I new only too well how dark IBC can be.

me-and-rig

This young lady was part of the Panasonic stand and was very helpful

It was a no brainer the Canon C300 a bag of lenses, sound kit and my trusty Miller Compact 25 with carbon fibre legs, this was my low light camera of choice but with one exception…weight.

Its fine using the C300 for one stand but what about the 15 interviews throughout the show, no way was I trekking with a C300, heavy tripod and lenses round IBC, I had two options…a Sony NX30 or a JVC HM650 but these were not going to give me the look I was after…my hunt for the right camera was on.

My fling with my Lumix DMC-FZ200 came to mind as I had used it recently to demonstrate a DSLR being used with a Tascam DR60, the Tascam had already been ordered through Production Gear so my sound was sorted but the camera side was becoming a nightmare.

I owned a Nikon D7100 that would shoot 720p but stupidly Nikon decided not to give you the ability to adjust the aperture during live view rendering the camera less than useless plus focusing with an LCD was not my cup of tea nor recommended.

After a few days deliberating I was down to two cameras the Sony Alpha 99 or the Lumix GH3, I had already owned the Alpha 77 so I knew the pedigree of the mirrorless viewfinder, it took a look at Philip Blooms video about the film he shot for Panasonic with the GH3 to convince me this was the right camera.

Panasonic have been developing the GH camera over the last 3 years with rave reviews on all versions more so the GH3, with its 17.3 x 13mm sensor and readily available mFT lenses this was a camera I felt at home with.

me-at-ibc

Could I focus using the EVF on the GH3, John Preston who had the camera in stock sent it up to me on an overnight delivery and at that time I only had the 14-45mm f 3.5-5.6 lumix lens but it was clear from day one the EVF was a winner from a focusing point of view plus the major bonus in manual focus the picture enlarges by 4x…fantastic.

Other major advantages were, swivel LCD, 1080 50p Full HD in AVCHD (28MBps) or 50MBps .MOV, my initial thoughts were 50MBps .MOV as this would give me cracking quality but strangely this proved to be troublesome in FCPX causing a staccato effect, reluctantly I switched over to AVCHD but was pleasantly  surprised with the picture quality in Full progressive HD mode.

Not wanting to give myself any further heartache I stuck with 1080 50p AVCHD as to my eyes the quality was stunning…two days later the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 “X” lens appeared, very nice and just the job for my trip to Amsterdam, a crop factor of two gives you a 35mm equivalent of 24-70mm, perfect for filming at at IBC.

I decided on day one the inbuilt mic was not good enough and tried my powered VideoMic Pro from RODE which did give far better sound but this mic has three drawbacks…

1. A 9v battery compartment that is a pain to access

2. A poorly designed rubber suspension system that keeps falling off

3. The need to switch the mic on and off

Dipping into my pocket once again I decided to buy the Lumix DMW-MS2 Stereo shotgun mic, which is specifically designed to work with the GH3 and self powered via the camera. In a quiet environment like my house the mic was good but I soon discovered its limitations on day one of the show.

Not taking any chances with my sound I was to use a Tascam DR60, this is a cracking unit and highly recommended. I do insist on XLR phantom powered mics when capturing interview sound so I also had a RODE NTG-1 and a Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun mic both with Rycote softies and grips. This was to be my saviour as the Lumix mic was surprisingly poor, though it was only needed as a guide sync track.

food

Walking from hall to hall fairly builds up an appetite this is Scott and myself catching lunch sitting on the floor, as you do, chairs at IBC are as rare as 3D cameras.

In the press room at IBC I met Kieron from Holdan who told me to concentrate on the interviews/product and not to worry about the behind the scene documentary, this was a blessing in disguise as the C300 bag, lenses and tripod were becoming tiresome to the point that my good friend Nick from Ianiro made room for it in his cupboard, the day we arrived. I knew you don’t leave any such kit in the car as IBC was a magnet for thieves in fact a C300 was stolen on day one from one of the tripod manufacturers.

C300 out the road the kit was vastly reduced to two bags and a far lighter Manfrotto photographic tripod with a Manfrotto MVH-500 video head. This gave me new vigour and an excitement using the new, vastly smaller kit but some trepidation that “have I chosen the right camera”.

Interview one was with Charles from Cambo he was a joy to interview and my recently acquired Ledgo LG-B150 camera light was a bonus as it was very lite and sat nicely on the side of my tripod.

rig

I had acquired a system of work using the DSLR, focus manually, setting the aperture to f4 to give breathing space, shutter at 50, ISO at 400 or 800 depending on the background illumination, press the Tascam to REC which switches onto REC PAUSE then press REC to record, re focus the GH3 and press the REC button, with both GH3 and DR60 in REC mode…interview begins…as long as I stuck to that religiously I was fine.

Possibly a couple of more steps than I would have with a video camcorder but I don’t know of any small video camera giving me the large sensor look at 1080 50p, even my C300 is restricted to 720 50p !

One thing I wasn’t expecting was the battery life, I got two extra batteries from Hahnel before the shoot and I only needed one battery per day, I was amazed how long the batteries were lasting.

My main gripe was panning, this really affects the autofocus if you are not careful so I had to make sure the focal point of my subject both start and end of shot were the same in manual mode. Racking the focus is another problem, the small diameter of the “X” lens makes pulling focus a problem, that’s where the Cambo pull focus unit would help but then we start to add meccano and before long you have a heavy wee camera, but not ruling it out yet !

Running the two units in tandem, the GH3 and Tascam is fraught with danger, I nearly lost my interview with Sony’s Bill Drummond with a Tascam error. I started the Tascam not realising it was low on battery and it ran out half way through the interview but to my horror I was not aware of this.

Although the batteries were too low to record the sound you still got enough power to keep the pre amps up and running and the headphones, not a good idea in my opinion.

me-Gh3

The unit was slightly behind me so I could not see the LCD, fortunately I checked both units right after the interview and was alerted by not having a red record light. The day before the trip I bought Duracell’s digital batteries for the Tascam and after a bit of apologising and a new set of batteries re-started the interview. This did nothing to convince Bill other than conventional video was still the way forward.

I do feel the GH3 and the Tascam are still poles apart and would make life a lot easier if the GH3 could trigger the Tascam, that still may be possible but as yet I know of no way to do this.

It always has been the DSLR’s Achilles heal matching good external sound with exceptional pictures, relying on a second process to activate the Tascam is fraught with danger.

dr-60d-web

UPDATE :  MAJOR WARNING TASCAM DR60 : As of today just before posting this I went down to my studio to take the main kit pictured at the top of this article, I got the cards mixed up and put the DR60 into the GH3 and the GH3 footage into the Tascam…The Tascam decided to AUTO FORMAT my GH3 footage without warning me…This is very poor indeed and I will be taking this up with Tascam, fortunately I had a program called DataRescue 3 and recovered not only my video footage but my JPEGs as well !!!

Update 2 : Tascam admit this is a “feature” built into a few of their sound recorders but were not aware that the unit would auto format without pressing a button.

Update 3 : Ok so I decided to retry an SD card that I backed up first. I slotted it into the DR60 and it prompts you “Format Error…are you sure you want to format” only if you push the button will it auto format. I must have bumped against it in my hurry to get the picture taken.

 

 

 

 

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IBC 2013…Enjoy

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments

Here it is the video review of IBC 2013 filmed with the Lumix GH3 at 1080 50p with the 12-35mm f2.8 X Panasonic lens. I also used a Tascam DR60 from Production Gear with a Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun mic with a Rycote softie kit.

The GH3 had a Lumix DMW-MS2 self powered mic on top which you can switch via the camera menu between Stereo or gun, I choose gun mode. This was far better for picking up the people being interviewed but not good enough to be used in place of the Sennheiser mic.

I will give you a more detailed report using the GH3 and DR60 later this week.

Me-GH3-DR60

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

The Logiclight €20

Categories: Miscellaneous 4 Comments

logiclight

I was looking at the FCPX keyboards at LogicKeyboard’s stall at IBC and told the chap that my keyboard was hard to read, the chap produced the perfect solution a €20 USB led light…brilliant !

light-side-v2

 

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IBC Day 3 “Round up”

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

IBC-D3

This was a new IBC for me, it’s the first time using a DSLR for mainstream video work…why ? Trade shows are famous for bad lighting and walking miles daily to get interviews.

Four days before IBC my Lumix GH3 arrived, as usual my wife and dogs became test subjects and I was blown away by quality of the 1080 50p pictures, this camera was better than my previous AF101 without the bulk and weight.

I brought my Canon C300 and Sony NX30 as well as my Lumix GH3 with a 12-35mm f2.8 lens, during day one I needed to bring the C300 with me as IBC is notorious for kit being taken in fact one supplier got a C300 stolen on day one !

Carting the C300 round the show was becoming tedious so I asked my friend Nick from Ianiro if he had any room in his cupboard and took my C300 and NX30.

My interviews were now all down to the Lumix GH3 with my Tascam DR60 and Ledgo LG-B150 camera light. Someone asked me why was I using the DR60 when I had the Lumix gun mic on the GH3…simple the Sennheiser MKH-418 with my Rycote softie and suspended handle gave me far tighter, cleaner sound.

UPDATE : Just checked my footage back on my hotel LCD and I am bowled over with the quality, Panasonic have done a cracking job on the GH3.

Dalmatian

Rycote have limited edition wind jammers along the animal theme, this one sporting the dalmatian look…fantastic, this has to be my best at show sound accessory of IBC 2013.

Panasonic 4K

Secondly was the 4K tablet from Panasonic, just wait till you see my video report on this stunning piece of kit, my best gadget of IBC 2013.

RED-HEAD

Ianiro are the inventors of the RED HEAD and by sheer chance the lady who is herself Fabrizia Ianiro is also a beautiful red head has taken the company from strength to strength.

Ianior

Ianiro have successfully re-invented an old classic like the RED HEAD with a 650W LED light output with the power of only 80W and no burnt fingers when you take out the 3200K filter, this is my star lighting product of IBC 2013.

Ledgo

I also had a look at some sexy LED lighting at the Ledgo stand, I have produced a series of videos for Ledgo and they are really nice to work for. I was so impressed with their LG-R332 ring light I bought one.

Both Panasonic and Sony had new camcorders on offer but my choice of camcorder of 2013 was not the Sony 4K Z100 though was a good contender, nor the well designed Panasonic 270 P2 camcorder but the Sony PMW-300.

300

The Sony PMW-300 will take the recently retired PMW- EX3 up to a new level with 422, 50Mbps, interchangeable lens and a vastly improved viewfinder using XQD cards as well as SxS with an upgrade to XAVC in 2014.

This will be the most useful addition to Sony’s armoury and become a excellent run and gun camcorder for video professionals who need a good all round workhorse.

BM

This was a good show this year with a lot of well kent faces from Sony, Panasonic, Canon, JVC the names go on to relativly new comers to video cameras like BlackMagic Design who in my opinion had the biggest and most impressive stand of IBC this year.

This company just keeps coming out with the goods time after time with a selection of hardware to die for, even the glossy brochure is impressive, well done BlackMagic.

Wall-vision

One last memory of IBC 2013, in the “Future Zone” we were shown this demonstration of an integrated television/wall, so integrated that the wallpaper is part of the effect so no more mounting OLEDs on the wall, just get the builder to build the wall round the TV…interesting ! This will be fine till you plan to move !!

 

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IBC Day 2 Part 2

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

Day-2-Part-2

After a hard days filming and my 3pm slot with TV-BAY live and Richard Payne here is some of my findings of the day.

wooden-rig

This chap was using some kind of wooden rig on his DSLR which by all accounts looked very practical.

Glydetrack

We met up with Alastair from Glidetrack who gave me an overview of his new very, very smooth camera carriage, this can be upgraded for existing customers.

Samsung-4K

Samsung who have captured the majority of the domestic HDTV market were showing off this 4K monster screen which was stunning to say the least.

Cambo-Follow-focus

Charles from Cambo was demonstrating their new pull focus unit with end stops and a very cleverly designed switch that can move out of the way to avoid the end stops should you need to do so.

Zacuto

Steve and Jens from Zacuto were demonstrating a cracking new rig for a DSLR with a specially produced pull focus that worked as sweet as a nut.

Rycote-stand

 

Rycote-zebra

Rycote care of Tim had the new wind jammers on show, this was the zebra version, I think it brings a serious injection of humour to any sound kit and has to be applauded for having the balls to produce such a fantastic modern theme to a very boring grey past.

Big-screen

As they say “look as the size of this” it puts a whole new meaning to the word’s wall mounted !

a-hard-days-work

Lastly these girls were on hand to relieve lots of hard earned stress from those who were fortunate enough to get a place in the queue.

Tomorrow is my last day at IBC so I hope to give you my opinions and some of the more interesting and best kit of IBC.

 

 

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IBC Day 2

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IBC day2

Panasonic have announced two new camcorders, the AJ-HPX270 and the AG-AC8, more about these camcorders later today.

AJ-HPX270-web

  • P2 HD handheld camera recorder with integrated AVC-ULTRA recording
  • 22x Zoom Lens and 3MOS Image Sensors
  • Two microP2 Card Slots

270-web-v2   You can take a look at the spec sheet here  http://www.resource.datavideo.info/specs/Panasonic_AJ-PX270.pdf

 

 

AG-AC8-web

  • Shoulder mount Full-HD 1080P AVCCAM camera recorder
  • Dual SD Cards
  • 21x optical zoom and intelligent auto mode (iA) with up to 50x zoom
  • 5-axis hybrid OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser)
  • Eye-Fi™ SD card compatible
  • Interfaces
    HDMI TypeA, Microphones (stereo mini), Headphone (stereo mini), USB 2.0 Hi-Speed Host/Device, AV, Video Component

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IBC 2013 “The 4K Show” Day One

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

IBC-4K

Arriving for day one first port of call was the Sony stand where Bill Drummond was on hand to show me the new camcorders the PXW-Z100 and the new PMW-300.

PMW-300-web

The PMW-300 is a replacement for discontinued EX-3 with a far better viewfinder and 50Mbps 4:2:2, I actually prefer the look of this camcorder to the EX-3.

Sony Jazz

This is Sony’s set this year with all the pro and broadcast cameras for you to evaluate.

4K-cam

The 4K camcorder from Sony will fit many pockets and remember who else has a 10bit, 4:2:2 HD camcorder. I think the PXW-Z100 will be the first of many 4K camcorders that fit the more conventional camcorder specs and  if you need shallow depth of field in 4K you have the FS700 or the F5.

Red-Head-LED

Finally we get to see the show stopping RED HEAD LED from Ianiro and it’s cracking. To many of us the Red Head was the defacto light during our early days in the video business, every production house owned a set of ‘Red Heads’.

The new LED version is dimable and has an external V lock mount, running at a mere 80 watts also means no burnt fingers when adjusting the barn doors, although it still has a light output equivalent to 650 watts.

This is my day one show stopper and I hope to get one of these iconic lights for a full review soon.

Live

Lastly I got a phone call from Richard Payne from Holdan’s this afternoon asking if I could assist him in a half hour review show of what’s new at IBC 2013.

I will cover the Teradek glass studio in more depth later but day one was non stop and very enjoyable and this only covers some of  hall eleven…pheew.

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GoPro Studio

Categories: Miscellaneous No Comments

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

The Datavision Reporters Kit

Categories: Miscellaneous 8 Comments

datavision

A couple of you are thinking of getting the Datavision reporters kit, now I have to put my hand up and tell you that I have just done an overview of the Reporters Kit for Holdan so I am slightly biased in my opinion.

Kit

Firstly the price…£350 plus vat is unbeatable in my opinion, I first saw this kit at BVE North last year and was shocked when Allan from Holdan’s told me that the kit was retailing at only £350 plus vat, you would have paid that alone for the ABS case 5 years ago !

What about the LED lights, look at the promo video and see for yourself, they are bright enough for any interview I did and so easy and quick to setup…value for money in my opinion and looks the part.

You can order your reporters kit from H Preston Media or Production Gear.

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