Camera Review Part 2…September-December 2013

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During September 2013 Sony announced the PXW-Z100 and the semi Pro FDR-AX1, both camcorders are capable of filming 4K and HD.



The main differences are as follows…

PXW-Z100 is 10 bit 4:2:2 XAVC and has an HD-SDI socket. XAVC allows 7m record time on a 32G XQD card. A free firmware update is planned for the middle of 2014 to support the LongGOP mode for extended 4K recording time and to add support for AVCHD recording via the SDHC card socket.

FDR-AX1 is 8 bit 4:2:0 XAVC “S” which is significant as it uses a wrapper unlike the XAVC. The XAVC “S” does allow 16m record time on a 32G XQD card.  No HD-SDI socket and will also include the free FW update during 2014.

“I have had a look at the FDR-AX1 and was very impressed with the HD pictures and some 4K footage I shot, the XAVC “S” does give you far longer recording times but at a cost, it took far too long for FCPX 10.0.9 to ingest. I am now producing a full video review on the professional PXW-Z100 camcorder and so far have only seen HD pictures which are far superior to the AX1 having the XAVC codec and 10 bit 422 processing.”

Also during September Panasonic announced the HPX 270 Micro P2 camcorder.


AJ-HPX 270

The AJ-PX270 is the first P2 HD handheld camera recorder with AVC-ULTRA recording and built-in microP2 card slots.In addition to the established AVC-Intra100, it has AVC-LongG for extended recording and AVC-Intra200*2 for master level recording. AVC-LongG25 enables extended 1920 x 1080 10 bit 4:2:2 broadcast-quality recording (four times longer thanAVC-Intra100). A newly designed, built-in, compact 22x zoom lens covers a wide range from 28 mm to 616 mm. Three lens rings (Cam-Type Zoom, Focus, Iris) provide comfortable manual control similar to interchangeable lenses. The newly developed high-sensitivity and low-noise 1/3 type 3MOS sensors produce superb image, even in dim light.

Two microP2 card slots enable the ultimate cost-effective operation. The microP2 card, with the same reliability of the P2card, can be used without an adapter. Simultaneous recording is also possible for backup use.A wireless LAN dongle*2 is available (a 3G/4G/LTE dongle is scheduled for use in the near future). These network function make workflows more efficient. For example, low-bit-rate proxy*3 and metadata are quickly and easily transmitted.

Also during September Panasonic announced a shoulder mounted AG-AC8 camcorder.



The shoulder mounted Full-HD 1080P AVCCAM features exceptional ergonomics and functionality, simultaneous recording to dual SD Cards, 21x optical zoom and intelligent auto mode (iA) with up to 50x zoom.  The AG-AC8’s exciting feature set makes it perfect for a range of professional and semi-pro users that require the best performance in applications such as weddings, business seminars and conferences, documentaries and nature films, sporting events and other events and shows.

“I produced an overview of the Panasonic AC8 and was very impressed with Panasonic’s new chipset finally giving us a true red making the 1080 50p pictures very vivid and punchy”


ARRI announced their new Amira large sensor camcorder during October



Featuring the same sensor and exceptional image quality as the ARRI ALEXA, AMIRA records superior HD 1080 or 2K pictures that are suitable for any distribution format. With a dynamic range of more than 14 stops, low noise levels, subtle highlight handling, natural color rendering, breathtaking skin tones and speeds of up to 200 fps, AMIRA will deliver stunning, life-like images.


During December Sony announced the new HXR-NX3 camcorder



The HXR-NX3 is a professional camcorder that features three 1/2.8-inch Exmor™ CMOS sensors for outstanding image quality. Dual media slots allow simultaneous or relay recording in AVCHD 2.0 (1080/50p) format. There is also a Slow & Quick Motion feature that achieves smooth 2x slow motion when recording at 25p or 50x quick motion when 1 frame per second is recorded in 50p. In addition to the 20x optical zoom, Clear Image Zoom with Super Resolution Technology provides an extended 40x zoom range with excellent clarity and detail and no effective pixel loss. A built-in LED light, WiFi/NFC remote control capability, and a larger 3.5 inch LCD panel for enhanced viewing add to the versatility of this multi-purpose camcorder, putting the finishing touches on an advanced system that offers unprecedented video recording freedom.

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

Filming at the Falkirk Wheel with the Sony PXW-Z100 for my Video Review

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The weather in Glasgow has been very poor so much so it has hindered my review of the Sony PXW-Z100, fortunately yesterday (Sunday) looked slightly better, cold but no rain, so I charged off to Falkirk to film the world famous Falkirk Wheel.


First problem was drive space, the PXW-Z100 in 4K 50p mode gives you 7 minutes of footage on a 32G card ! Now in my Super 8mm film days that would equate to 100 ft of film, not bad but every shot had to count.

The wheel rotating from start to finish takes 4m 43s !

I changed tac and decided to use 1080 50p the next surprise being 16m or 31m at 25p, I decided to stick to 50p as most of what I was filming moved.


The XAVC codec is heavy on drive space plus to engage 4K filming with XAVC you need an XQD S Series card. The Lexar above is £322 at, H Preston Media is showing the Sony 64G S Series cards for £449 each.


Filming with two Sony 64G XQD “S” cards at 4K would give you 28 minutes of fantastic footage but at a cost of £898. I realise this technology is new and pictures to die for but once again Sony needs to address the cost of XQD “S” cards to help bring this 4K format to a wider audience.


Even in HD mode the XAVC codec excels, the pictures from this 10bit 4:2:2 Sony PXW-Z100 camcorder are the best HD pictures I have seen in a long time, I will film studio and PTC shots in true 4K this week, as I am limited to 7m I can’t shoot outside the studio on location as I have no way of backing up my 4K footage.

I do realise a 4K enabled external recording device would be a good alternative, time wise, but I like the convenience of the XQD cards and less to go wrong.


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

New V3 Firmware for F55 and F5

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NEW Firmware Version 3.0


We are very pleased to release Version 3.0 for the F5, and F55 this Holiday season! With close to 30 new features, this is another big release for the leading digital motion picture cameras in the market.

This update is for F5, F55 and AXS-R5


  • USER LUT’s, and look profiles 3D LUT
  • Center Scan mode for Super 16mm lenses
  • New log curve and color gamut (S-Log3/S-Gamut3)
  • XAVC QFHD recording (3840 x 2160)
  • MPEGHD 1280x720p recording
  • Slow and Quick motion on XAVC 4K, XAVC QFHD and Center Scan mode
  • User definable clip naming
  • AES/EBU audio input

………..and much more!


Please see below for all the details, and to download the new firmware

You will notice Slog3, and SGamut3.Cine added in this release. We will explain in detail about this in January with a white paper. S-Gamut3.Cine is (DCIP3). S-Log3 is a log signal with 1300% dynamic range, close to Cineon Log curve. This does not replace Slog2, SGamut, it is added as another choice.

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

Camera Review 2013 Part ONE…April to June

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During March Panasonic announced the AJ-PX5000 P2 camcorder


  • Newly developed 3MOS sensor reduces the effects of rolling shutter.
  • High Sensitivity (F13 at 50i), low noise (60dB), 1000 TV line resolution.
  • AVC-ULTRA codec camera-recorder including AVC-LongG50/25/12*1/6*1.
  • Wireless and wired control and streaming of proxy content.
  • Two P2 slots and two microP2 slots*2

This was Panasonic’s latest broadcast P2 camcorder giving exceptional performance at 4:2:2 10bit 1080 50p with slots for both P2 and micro P2 and the newly developed AVC-ULTRA codec.


JVC decided to roll out the GY HM70 on the back of the successful 600 range of camcorders



Capture every stunning detail with this advanced Full HD shoulder supported 1080/50p camcorder. The GY-HM70 is equipped with a high quality 29.5mm wide-angle GT lens that offers smooth 16x dynamic zoom performance*. The camera records on two SDHC or SDXC memory cards in the AVCHD Progressive format at 28Mbps. And its unique dual battery system keeps you recording for hours and hours since the batteries may be hot swapped during recording. Never before has this much performance been packed into an affordable, professional shoulder supported camcorder.

Many people who bought into the 600 series of camcorders would have prefered JVC to have spent the time and effort to produce a 1080 50p GY HM650 rather than the HM70 a lesser spec model.


Blackmagic Design decided to announce the 4K version of their popular cinema camera

4K-BMCinema Camera 4K

Shoot Ultra HD TV or 4K feature films with the new Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. You get a large Super 35 size sensor with professional global shutter combined with precision EF mount optics, high quality visually lossless compressed CinemaDNG RAW and Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)™ file recording for a complete self contained solution. The built in touchscreen lets you monitor, change settings and enter metadata directly on the camera!

Sadly Blackmagic had sensor difficulties holding back the 2K version of this camera, clashing with delivery and the 4K announcement did nothing to bolster sales of the 2K camera with 4K version still not available till January 2014 !


Sony announces the arrival of the PMW-400


Supports multiple SD and HD codecs and XAVC ready

The PMW-400L is an affordable 3x 2/3-inch CMOS high quality sensor broadcast camcorder that, like the PMW-500, supports all SD / HD 422 broadcast workflows using .MXF and XDCAM EX workflows using .MP4 and .AVI. It is also future-proofed to support XAVC 10-bit HD422 recordings.

Sony decided to bring out a CMOS version of their popular broadcast PMW-500, this gives news cameramen and women a dilemma when choosing the right tool for the job as both the 400 and 500 are 50Mbps it’s down to the chips CCD (500) or CMOS (400).


Canon announce the XA25 camcorder



An ultra-compact, entry-level professional camcorder with unmatched performance

The XA25 camcorder combines outstanding image quality with dual-format recording and HD-SDI output in a compact form factor, making it ideal for professional broadcast and web-based content capture.

While everyone had hoped Canon would update the XF305, they decided to bring out an entry level professional hand held camcorder instead.


Sony announce the replacement to the very popular EX-3, the PMW-300



The PMW-300K1 XDCAM camcorder is equipped with three 1/2-inch Exmor™ full-HD CMOS sensors, capable of delivering high-quality images even in low-light environments. Ample support for interchangeable lensand a robust metal body further ensure that PMW-300K1 is suitable for a wide range of applications. Additionally, the PMW-300K1 offers a convenient remote-control and multi-camera operation capability, which allows use with high-end camera systems.

This camera brings us XAVC at 10bit 100Mbps quality far superior to the EX3, having used the camera on a shoot myself the build and pictures were exceptional not to mention the high spec viewfinder.

Tomorrow I will continue my journey through 2013 from September to December.



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

Video Review of the new Sony PXW-Z100 due early January 2014

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Sony have pulled out all the stops for me to get a PXW-Z100 over the festive period…fantastic. The 4K XAVC codec will be a joy to test on my new FCPX 10.1 iMac…I hope they remember to send a 32G XQD card with it ?

This will be a fitting start to 2014… a 10bit 4:2:2 camcorder recording both 4K and HD. I predict the new year ahead will have a few new 4K surprises.

Let me leave you with a look at a 16 camera 4K multi-shoot Sony filmed in Italy earlier this year…stunning.

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

Fantastic…A must look for Christmas

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

Coming soon…HD Warrior’s look back over 2013

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Yes its that time of year again where we look back at all the kit from Sony, Panasonic, Canon, JVC, Arri and Blackmagic.

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

Using the Sony PMW-300

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I got a phone call from the boys at 2000 Television, a national crew hiring company I do work for asking me if I could fill in for a crew member who had fallen ill. The job was down in Renfrew filming a conference with 2 cameras belonging to Slinky Productions from Birmingham.


Slinky have 2 of the latest Sony camcorders the PMW-200 and the PMW-300, I was filming with the PMW-300.


The new viewfinder on the 300 is superb as is the picture out of the camera, I was set to -3dBs and the camera still had “f” stops to play with. This camera must be one of the first production models to hit the UK and Slinky are delighted with their purchase.


The viewfinder can be angled in various positions with all the user controls on the front and back, a well thought out, usable sturdy viewfinder. My first look at the Sony PMW-300 was at IBC this year and it was a delight to use such a new camera in a real life situation.


The crew from Slinky Productions Charlie and Bob were a delight to work with, we filmed onto 32G SxS cards using 720 25p, and will be edited in Premiere Pro. PS. I hope Steve gets better soon.

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

Alister Chapman’s 4K day at H Preston Media tomorrow

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Why not spend a day at H Preston Media tomorrow where Alister Chapman is giving loads of advice on 4K cameras from 4K enabled Sony FS700 to the PXW-Z100. There will also be limited stock of the Blackmagic Pocket Camera.


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

Phantom Flex 4K…1000fps

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Designed for the cinematographer, the Phantom Flex4K is a high-speed camera providing exceptional flexibility through its frame rate capabilities and by adapting to different shooting styles. The super-35mm 4K sensor provides sharp, detailed images with extremely low noise and high dynamic range.  The Flex4K is capable of shooting from 15 frames-per-second (fps) up to 1,000 fps at 4K, and up to 2,000 fps at 2K/1080p.

The camera lets you customize the workflow that makes sense for your production. The Cine raw format ensures the fastest high-speed capture on set and maximum quality and versatility for post-production.  Files are saved to the hot-swappable Phantom CineMag® IV (up to 2TB). The three main 3G HD-SDI video outputs support dual-link 4K video and advanced scaling when set to 1080p. Vision Research also has announced plans to introduce in-camera compression via a firmware update in early 2014.

The full-featured on-camera control interface eliminates the need to connect to a computer on set. All camera parameters can be set from the built in menu on the right side of the camera body, and controls for capture, playback, saving and monitoring can be found on both sides.  Shortcuts are available for popular functions and multiple user presets exist to allow for a quick setup.

Key Features

  • Full resolution 4096 x 2304
  • Up to 1,000 fps at 4096 x 2160
  • Phantom CineMag IV recording media (1TB & 2TB)
  • 32GB or 64GB of internal memory
  • Monitoring: Three main 3G HD-SDI outputs, which can be configured as independent 4:4:4 1080p signals or used together to supply a dual-link 4K output while maintaining a live HD signal
  • Viewfinder: A new, high-quality Phantom OLED HD Viewfinder is part of the system. Support for both component and HD-SDI-based viewfinders are included.
  • Optional Integrated battery mount supporting industry standard batteries
  • Lens mount: Interchangeable between PL and Nikon F/G standards – Canon EF coming soon
  • 2x 12V and 2x 24V accessory outputs
  • Both Mac and Windows based software for download and file conversion

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

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