Shot with the Canon EOS C300 by Sebastien Devaud

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Panasonic preview f2.8 mFT “X” lenses

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CES 2012: Panasonic is showing mockups of two large-aperture zoom lenses for Micro Four Thirds. The Panasonic stand plays host to mockups of a 12-35mm F2.8 and a 35-100mm F2.8 lens, prominently badged ‘Concept’ lenses. Next to the models is a lens roadmap confirming the company’s intentions to build a 12-35mm (24-70mm equiv) and 35-100 (70-200mm equiv) ‘X’ grade zooms, but with a note that the maximum apertures are ‘to be determined.’ The diagram appears to suggest both lenses will arrive later in 2012.

Strange but interesting “the maximum apertures are ‘to be determined” and heres me thinking its f2.8. Now take it from me Mr Panasonic lens designer you will win a watch if you can make these lenses f1.8 or better still f1.4 maximum aperture, that would allow a fantastic shallow depth of field for AF101 users, the 12-35mm being a cracking standard zoom for the AF101.

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Mini Review of the Manfrotto Unica V Messenger RED shoulder bag £79

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I have been looking for a new bag for my NX70s and came across the new Manfrotto Unica V shoulder bags. I had a choice of orange-red and white, I plumbed for one of each.

Manfrotto “The Unica V messenger is the perfect everyday companion for carrying your camera gear, laptop and personal gear. Gain quick access to your DSLR with lens attached, 17” Macbook (15.4” laptop) and personal effects in the upper compartment by using the top opening, LIMITED EDITION RED”

These bags are perfect for the Sony NX70 as they fit like a glove and still have plenty of space for battery charger, batteries, SDHC cards and a decent space underneath for a microphone and XLR cable.

Up till now we have had to put up with boring black or petrol green in the bag department and the great feature of these colourful bags is you won’t leave them behind on a job or lose them in a dark corner of a room.

This bag allows my NX70s to be self contained with everything in the one place…well recommended.

PS. Jessops have them on promotion at £50 this month.

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

JVC GY-HMQ10 available from March for £5090

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JVC Professional Europe Ltd. today announced the GY-HMQ10, the world’s first handheld 4K camcorder, which captures, records and plays video images at four times the resolution of high definition television. Powered by JVC’s Falconbrid large-scale integration (LSI) chip for high-speed signal processing and a 1/2-inch CMOS imager with 8.3 million active pixels, it delivers real-time 3840×2160 footage at 24p and 50p.

“We’re witnessing the birth of what is destined to become a broad market for full 4K end-to-end production,” said product manager, Gustav Emrich. “The GY-HMQ10 is a breakthrough product that opens up 4K imaging to users who previously wouldn’t have considered it.”

High resolution 4K still picture imaging has been around for several years in DSLR cameras. Motion video capture with these cameras has always been done at a lower video resolution because of lack of processing power. Likewise, high end digital motion picture cameras may capture 4K images, but often provide a raw data output to an external storage array for later processing – again due to lack of processing power in the camera. There just hasn’t been the ability to capture, process, display and record full 4K images in real time until now.

JVC’s exclusive Falconbrid LSI processing takes raw image data from the camera’s CMOS device and dematrixes (deBayers) it in real time. Unlike many high end 4K cameras, the GY-HMQ10 is able to output 4K images to a monitor or projection system in real time with virtually no latency. This capability opens up applications in cinematography, medical microscopy, telepresence, specialised observation / surveillance, and live wide-view event coverage.

Using MPEG-4 technology and a variable bit rate H.264 codec operating at up to 144 Mbps, the GY-HMQ10 records up to two hours of 4K video to economical SDHC or SDXC memory cards.

In addition to 4K imaging, the GY-HMQ10 also captures and records astonishing 1080i or 1080/50p full HD, with extraordinary detail provided by its 8.3 megapixel imager and superior lens. HD is recorded on a single memory card in a format compatible with most editing systems, along with the ability to crop an HD image from a 4K frame. This can be accomplished in post production, or in real time during camera playback. The “trimming” feature makes HD cropping easy using the camera’s touch panel LCD monitor.

Similar in size to JVC’s popular GY-HM150 ProHD camcorder, the GY-HMQ10 includes a build-in F2.8 10x zoom lens with optical image stabiliser, as well as a colour viewfinder and 3.5-inch touch LCD monitor with a new, intuitive user interface. The GY-HMQ10 is built in a familiar, comfortable and lightweight form factor for hours of field production with minimum fatigue.

The GY-HMQ10 is equipped with manual level controls for audio, with audio metering in the LCD and viewfinder displays. A microphone holder and two balanced XLR connectors with phantom power are located on the handle. The camera is equipped with a built-in stereo mic for ambient sound pickup.

Other features include JVC’s patented Focus Assist, as well as manual and auto control of focus, iris, gain, shutter, gamma, colour matrix and white balance. Plus, the camera has the unusual capability of live 4K output via four HDMI terminals.

“Historically, JVC has been a leader in camcorder and display technology, and the GY-HMQ10 is our latest breakthrough,” added Gustav. “It’s part of a larger move at JVC to bring 4K technology to a wide range of customers.” In September 2011, JVC introduced an affordable line of 4K projectors to the home theatre market. The company’s high-end 4K projectors are widely used in commercial flight simulators and planetariums. “4K is the logical step beyond HD,” he added, “and JVC is uniquely positioned to lead the industry in this new direction.”

JVC’s innovative approach to professional 4K will be unveiled in a series of industry announcements beginning at CES in Las Vegas and continuing throughout 2012.

The GY-HMQ10 has a list price of £5090 and is expected to ship in March 2012.

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

French Canal Plus drops 3D channel after 18 months !

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From an article in Broadcast Engineering …The decision by French pay TV operator Canal Plus to axe its 3-D channel after 18 months of operation is a significant setback for the technology in Europe, following low consumer take up. The channel attracted just 20,000 subscribers despite considerable marketing from Canal Plus since its launch in June 2010, leading the company to decide the technology was not ready. Canal Plus managing director René Saal said that for now development and marketing would be refocused back on 3-D, although he did not rule out restarting its 3-D channel in a few years’ time.

The move reflects growing loss of momentum for 3-D in Europe, caused by a combination of lukewarm consumer response and lack of available content. The first signs of this were apparent early in 2011 if not before, with the publication by analyst group Ovum of a report called The State of 3-D (Strategic Focus) identifying a lack of enthusiasm among broadcasters as 53 percent of survey respondents regarded it as low priority. As a result, 3-D content was being produced at a much lower rate than had been hoped or expected a year or two earlier. The report noted that a number of European operators had launched 3-D channels, including BSkyB as well as CanalPlus, but had been hampered by the high cost of 3-D production, particularly for live content. This in turn had deterred some operators from coming in with dedicated 3-D channels at all, but meant more generally that the appeal of 3-D was limited by the poor choice of content, mostly confined to a scattering of sports events and a few movies.

Even in the UK, which has been leading Europe’s push for 3-D, enthusiasm tapered off towards the end of 2011 following another report by Informa Telecoms & Media, which indicated that 3-D will still have failed to break out of its niche and become part of mainstream viewing by 2016. The report acknowledged that 3-D had got off to a flying start in the UK following a strong push from the country’s leading pay TV operator, satellite provider BSkyB, which has been providing its 3-D content free to its 3.7 million premium HD customers, almost 40 percent of its 10 million customer base. BSkyB has been pushing 3-D as the next big thing, and rival Virgin Media, the UK’s dominant cable TV operator with 4 million subscribers, has also been plugging 3-D hard, offering 3-D movies to customers with a capable TV set. Furthermore, 3-D has also enjoyed strong support from the BBC, which kicked off by broadcasting the men’s and women’s finals of the 2011 Wimbledon tennis championships in the format.

But, reality intruded on the hype increasingly in the second half of 2011, as Internet connectivity overtook 3-D in the league of development and marketing priorities. Virgin Media realized it was gaining far more customers as a result of its Tivo box connecting TVs to web content than from 3-D, with the Informa survey predicting that, while, by 2016, one-third of UK households, or about 8 million, will have 3-D TV sets, only 42 percent of these will consume 3-D content regularly.

Part of the reason for the slower-than-expected take up of 3-D is realization that the technology has some way to go to make 3-D viewing compelling for a broad range of content. Goggle-less viewing will be essential for 3-D to become mainstream, and it has still to be proven that TV sets can provide this successfully across a wide field of view. Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and other symptoms caused quite commonly by 3-D viewing also need to be tackled by reducing the visual processing load on the brain imposed by current technology.

So far, the decline in 3-D interest in Europe appears not to have been reflected elsewhere, with major U.S. networks such as ESPN, Discovery, and DirecTV maintaining their efforts. ESPN, for example, hopes that 3-D will recoup some of the $15.2 billion it spent on rights over the next eight years to the National Football league, planning to shoot these in full 1080p HD resolution in 3-D after 2014.

Meanwhile, Consumer Electronics (CE) vendors are desperately trying to maintain 3-D momentum by investing in 3-D content production if the broadcasters will not do it. The 2012 London Olympics will provide a major test of this strategy, with several TV makers including Panasonic sponsoring 3-D TV production at the games.

In reality, though, CE makers, as well as pay TV operators and broadcasters, are having to lengthen their sights and view 3-D as more of a slow burner that will generate revenues and interest, but over a longer term than had been anticipated, with more work needed. It is likely that further improvements in HD, perhaps Ultra HD, will gain greater traction first.

Despite a growing number of professional 3D camcorders like the Sony PMW-TD300 the general public are not as interested in 3D as the people who make the products like Sony, Panasonic and JVC.

People are happy with HD pictures and a larger swing of the general public are swapping over to HD Ready LED/plasma TVs choosing Sky HD, Blu ray and other devices like the Apple TV that can now stream HD pictures giving a wide selection of HD media to choose from.

 

 

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Cinema 5Ds new community driven review database

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Video Review: SACHTLER Ace – new ultra affordable fluid tripod from cinema5D on Vimeo.

Sebastian fron Cinema 5D sent me a link to their new community driven review database and within the database is this review of the ACE tripod from Sachtler, I was asked if I was going to review my ACE but why re-invent the wheel when someone has already done one.

Link to database http://www.cinema5d.com/news/?p=9045

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Skycam falls onto pitch during a live game…H&S nightmare !

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Its interesting to see what this wonderful technology is capable of doing or not doing in the case of this small clip. If that camera rig had fallen on a player it might have not been so funny.

This falling on a crowd of people in “T” in the park could be potentially disastrous or any other large crowd. Health and Safety (H&S) are sleeping on this acrobatic wire technology, as I said the pictures look great but at what cost when one of the wires break.

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The Winner in reverse order

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In third place we have the Panasonic AF101, the large sensor camera to start the ball rolling.

This was the camera to own during the start of 2011 and the amount of emails I got asking about lens configurations and off camera recorders. For the six months I had the AF101 I was delighted with it.

Lets hope Panasonic take such a splendid camcorder and make the improvements that the camera deserves, 10bit, 4:2:2, 50MB/s and 1000+ lines and a decent Hi-Res viewfinder being the least specifications for version two.

In second place comes the only other Panasonic I reviewed this year, the AG-AC160.

What can I say for sheer value for money the AC160 stands head and shoulders above the competition and later on this Spring Panasonic are bringing out a firmware upgrade that will allow 1080 50p…fantastic.

With its far superior 22x HD lens, manual iris and zoom, XLRs, well balanced in your hand, syncro scan, over and under cranking (Speed ramping), usable viewfinder, interval timer record and much much more this camera deserves to be second and was just piped at the post for first.

How can you improve on such a well designed camcorder, 10bit, 4:2:2 but then if you want this you move up to the HPX-250 a camcorder that for some reason I was not given to review last year…sadly.

 

In first place for sheer value for money and picture quality it goes to the Sony NEX-FS100.

This was a cheeky wee devil one that I did not have a lot of time for in its infancy…no HD SDI and ND filters were so against the grain. By fate I had to swap from having the Panasonic AF101 over to the Sony FS100 not a move I was looking forward to…till the review…I took it over to Arran more for the fact it had arrived two days before I was due to review the NX70 and thought it might be novel to review 2 camcorders at the same time.

The pictures from the NX70 were good but the pictures from the FS100 were amazing both Chris and I could not believe what we were watching that evening in Chris’s house…stunning ! I fell in love with the FS100 from that day onwards and she has produced some of the best footage for me to date especially interviews.

Interviews are especially pleasing with this camera having that large Super 35mm sensor gives you a shallow depth of field to dream of especially using a Nikon 50mm f1.4 prime lens.

I was told by a Sony birdie when I asked the question “Whats the difference between the FS100 and the F3 ?”  Sony “The FS100 is slightly noisier than the F3 and has no SDI or ND filters” Kidology as far as noise in my books this camera may not have S-Log but the picture is rock solid and bloody brilliant up to 18dBs and this comes from a man who has witnessed the F3’s fantastic noiseless pictures for himself.

The one thing I know about Sony is that they DO NOT compromise any camera’s picture quality, its the best or nothing, the same cannot be said of their competitors.

Once you get your head around the ND filter problem and in my case bought a smashing GenusTech Rig which then allows you to swap Vari-ND filters very easily and the fact that my Sony PVM-740 monitor has an HDMI socket…your sorted.

Sony must be in a strange place with the FS100 as they need to upgrade it at some point without compromising the F3 but if they upgrade the F3  to 4K that problem will disappear because not everyone is ready for 4K and a 10bit, 4:2:2, 50MB/s FS200 with SDI and ND filters would be a dream camera indeed…PS. Do something more substantial with the camera handle on V2 please.

So why did the others fail ?

So what about the PMW-F3, NX70 and the HXR-NX3D1…Firstly the F3 is a great camera but not value for money and flawed by only having 35MB/s SxS cards, this was my main gripe with Sony and I hope version two will solve this when the Canon C300 is just round the corner.

The Sony NX70 should never have passed QA with that shocking non adjustable zoom rocker switch and they are keeping us till March 2012 before we get some resolve to this problem, the chromatic aberrations on the tight end of the lens is not clever, lets hope we can get an interchangeable lens with version two and a rocker fit for purpose. (Please note : all camcorders are updated every so often so if I make reference to “version 2” its not that I have secret info its letting Sony, Panasonic etc know whats preferred in a further incarnation of that product.)

The Sony HXR-NX3D1 is a good first attempt but rather lacking in the manual controls department especially when you are in 3D mode. Not having any control over its gain left this camcorder out of the running.

Amazingly two camcorders from Panasonic out of four Sonys made the grade and if I had reviewed the HPX-250 it might just have been a clear top 3 for Panasonic, this should be a lesson to JVC and Canon who did not give me any cameras to review during 2011, lets see if you can reverse the trend during 2012.

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Camcorder of 2011…6 cameras 1 winner

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Panasonic AF101 (£4175 without lens 1080 50i, 1080 25p 24p or 720 50p with sound)…At the beginning of 2011 I received the AF101 to review and had it almost for six months, this was to be the first of it’s kind, a large sensor professional camcorder…micro Four Thirds (mFT) to be precise. apart from the review itself I used the AF101 on various corporate shoots. Panasonic were unable to keep up with initial demand for the camera as the more people used it and talked about it the more people wanted one.

The major plus points for the AF101 were its metal body, ND filters, easy menu system and the major amount of lenses and adapters that were made for the mFT system.

I would have held onto it if I had not been given the Sony PMW-F3 to review, this showed me the shortcomings of the AF101 especially when it comes to resolution, at only 800 lines it became for me it’s ache-lies heal after seeing the pictures from the F3 beside the AF101. Although good in low light up to 18dBs of gain it was not a patch on the F3, the other disappointment was the lack of a decent viewfinder.

Sony PMW-F3 (£11754 without lens 1080 50i, 1080 25p 24p or 720 50p with sound)…This camera arrived out of the blue and I had a week to produce a review, it had a slightly larger sensor a Super 35mm chip. The F3 was a brute compared to the AF101 and almost three times the price but was it to be three times better, sadly no, but at 1000+ lines and noiseless low light it was better than the AF101 but not as affordable. MTF was producing a Nikon to F3 mount but it was not available at the time of the review so I used three Sony PL lenses that came with the camera.

The F3 was like most Sony cameras that I had owned the PMW-350 being one of them so getting around the menu system was a breeze. The viewfinder was once again poor and you were forced to use the LCD this was my major gripe with Sony apart from the 35MB/s bringing the camera just under the HD broadcast threshold.

It does have the ability to produce 4:4:4 out of the HD SDI socket with a paid update but that leads you to an expensive recorder like a Gemini at £6000+.

Sony NEX-FS100 (£4712 without lens 1080 50p 25p, 1080 50i, 720 50p with sound)…This was to be the last of the large sensor camcorders taking its Super 35mm chip from her sister the F3.

Having no ND filters due to a poor design gave me a bad feeling about this camera…at first. The FS100 arrived at the same time as my NX70 review camera so I decided to review both camcorders on Arran as this had already been set up the week before.

I had a day to resolve the lack of ND filters and was also glad that MTF had supplied me with a Nikon to E adapter. My only choice was the Cokin P filter adapters and holders giving me some form of ND albeit from a resin filter photographic system.

The pictures from the FS100 were stunning and the best LCD/Viewfinder so far, one of its other flaws is the design of the viewfinder loupe, it does not allow you to view your pictures once the camera has reached above your eye line as the loupe goes from 90˚ down to 0˚.

The lack of HD SDI was also a bone of contention but all of my external monitors have HDMI. Unlike its bigger sister the FS100 uses AVCHD onto SDHC cards which is in its favour in my opinion.

Sony HXR-NX70 (£2500 1080 50p 50i)…As I have already mentioned the NX70 was reviewed over on Arran and was the professional version in my opinion of the MC50.

I was very exited by the NX70 as I had been looking for a camera with the picture quality of the MC50 but with control over gain and XLR inputs.

This should have been my dream come true camera but for some interesting features that you only get to know about after owning 2 of them. The zoom rocker switch is appalling and should have never passed Sonys QA, a firmware update is due out in March that will help matters but till then who knows.

Like its wee sister the MC50 the fixed 10x lens looses about 2 stops from wide to tight making the zoom useless in lower light situations and also suffers chroma aberrations in some lighting conditions.

 

Panasonic AG-AC160 (£3540  1080 50i 25p, 720 50p with sound)… This was a camcorder that had everything…well almost everything. Panasonic had redesigned the wheel and produced 3 hand held camcorders starting with the 130, 160 and the 250 P2 camera.

The 160 was an AVCCAM camera that takes two SDHC cards to its credit has a 22x super duper manual iris lens, XLRs, reasonable viewfinder, syncro scan, over and under speed ramping and interval timer recording and that easy non cluttered Panasonic menu system.

The camera was bulging with features and a clean HD picture up to 9dB it performed very well but the large sensor cameras like the AF101 stand on its head when it comes to clean noiseless pictures above 9dBs.

Sony HXR-NX3D1 (£2800  1080 50i)…This was the first 3D camcorder to have a 10x usable zoom that I had reviewed and its jewel in its crown was the 3D LCD screen…WOW !

So for all that was going for the camera what let it down, well firstly the lack of manual controls during 3D mode, not even white balance. There was also no control over the gain at all.

You do get XLRs and can be used in non 3D mode if required with a lot more manual control but since this camera majors in 3D then in 3D mode its lacking.

Don’t get me wrong the 3D HD picture is stunning on my Panasonic 3D 50″ telly but I sell think 3D has a long way to go when it comes to enticing Joe Bloggs to part with his hard earned cash against an almost 50% reduction for the non 3D HD version.

“I will reveal the winner tomorrow evening”

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The Camcorder of 2011…coming soon !

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

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