Warning…Do you have one of these under your desk !

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This equipment was installed in my edit suite in preparation for the day that my mains power failed and it would give me several precious minuets to switch off my computer…today it went into melt down mode !!!

I was outside with my brother in law running in a second cable for my HD Sky box and we got a whiff of a fishy smell now and again, after about an hour I went into the edit suite to be confronted with a pungent fish smell…the smell of burning electronics. Fortunately I had installed an isolator switch which kills all the power at once then the window was opened. After a while I did my detective work feeling each and every piece of equipment, at first I thought it was the AJA box as it was beside the APC then touching the APC it was burning hot.

It was literally chucked out the back door and left to cool down where on further examination half an hour later revealed the back up batteries were on melt down.

I do find it very unreassuring that a device made to protect your computer equipment from surges, overloads and power failure can itself smoulder to the point of meltdown without having it’s own inbuilt safety device,…what can I say…other than my advice is as follows…

If you have this model APC Smart-UPS 750, switch it off and take it back to the retailer as it’s far to dangerous to be left alone in an office, I have contacted the company and await their comments.

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

Sony’s FS100 “First Look” from Doug Jensen

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While we wait for the new Sony FS100 to appear why not look at Doug Jensen’s footage, Doug produces tutorial DVDs for Vortex Media which teach you how to use various levels of Sony Camcorders, I bought one of his DVDs teaching me a lot more about my Sony EX3, well worth the money.

A week before the 2011 NAB Convention, Sony sent a pre-production NEX-FS100 for me to shoot some demo footage for use in my F3/FS100 workshops they asked me to teach at the show.

The camera arrived on a Saturday morning. I set it up on my DSC test chart and created a custom Picture Profile that looked good to me. Please keep in mind that you should never judge a Sony camera right out of the box. You MUST create (or get) a Picture Profile or Scene File with a Sony camera if you expect the camera to perform at its best. That’s the way Sony designs them, and it is the right way to do it.

All but 6-7 shots of this video were shot on that Saturday afternoon at various locations around Newport, Rhode Island.

I used a Novoflex E-Mount to Nikon adapter so that I could use my own Nikon lenses instead of the 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 lens that Sony sent with the camera. In my opinion, that lens is too slow for getting decent shallow depth-of-field . . . which is, after all, one of the main reasons for choosing a camera such as the NEX-FS100 that has a Super-35mm sensor.

The Nikon lenses I used were a 17-35mm f/2.8 and a 80-200mm f/2.8

Only the fishing boats and swan shots at 6:35 were taken with the stock 18-200mm lens.

All of the softball footage was shot through a chain-link fence in bright sun.

Because the camera does not have any built-in ND filters of it’s own, I used a $150 Genus Variable ND Polarizer filter to control the amount of light entering the lens. ALL shots, except for the indoor fruit basket were shot with the ND filter on the lens. I found that this filter actually allowed me much finer control over my exposure than of the camera had only a couple of built-in filters. What at first seemed like a big shortcoming of the camera, was quickly forgotten. I can use cheap step-down rings to use the same ND Polarizer on all of my lenses regardless of their native filter size.

No matte box was used.

All of the slow-motion shots were shot at 60fps at full 1920×1080 mode and recorded on the camera’s onboard SD card. Full 1920×1080 @ 60fps is a unique ability of this camera compared to other Sony camcorders.

All shots in the video were recorded to the onboard SD card at 24Mbps. I will post comparison footage that was recorded simultaneously with a NanoFlash at 100MBps when I have time.

Only three shots, which are identified with supers had any color grading or post-processing applied to them. Everything else is straight out of the camera.

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

Is solid state all it’s cracked up to be ?

Categories: Miscellaneous 9 Comments

Here are two independent stories the only link is the cards they are using…

Vince using a Sony NX5… “Had A wee problem tonight while filming a local dance show. Using two NX5s to film,one on a wide shot plus one NX5 for close ups etc.

Without warning mid way through the first half, the close up Camera LCD screen went blank,a warning came up saying something about corupt media etc, then the camera shutdown by itself and then re-booted,another warning came up saying that recording or playback can not take place until the software has checked the card out for faults etc. I pressed enter to check the card for faults and within a few seconds was able to resume recording.

Unfortunately 20 odd minutes of footage was lost,7 dances to be exact,everything filmed up to the crash point was gone from the Transcend Card,the remaining dances up to the end of the first half were ok.Card was on its 3rd use with no problems before.

Fortunately the wide camera captured everything on a static wide shot so all is not lost but i must admit i am stuned to have lost the footage i did.Thank God it wasnt a wedding.
Have you heard anything like this from other camera operaters!!. This is the first time i have had any hicups with the NX5 using the Transcend Cards-Class 10, 16 GIG type.”

Today I get this Email…

Chris using a Sony MC50… “Had a major glitch last night while shooting a recce of “Bad Girls” for Saturday. Following your reports of problems with early shots, as at Jan’s party, I always shoot four short shots after formatting a memory card. They played back fine, as usual. Started recording the show and after about twenty minutes a data warning appeared on screen for a couple of seconds, then the whole camera shut down and restarted. I got going again and the problem did not recur, but ALL data recorded before the fault was missing – including those four test shots!

I managed to ingest the footage recorded after the fault and then decided to attempt a data recovery of the missing scenes by invoking the option to “Repair Image Database Files”. This reported no error, so I mounted the SD card on my Mac and used a utility to display hidden files…

You can see the clip info demonstrates that ten scenes were present – recorded AFTER the fault – but there are no .MTS files visible. Worse still, the footage no longer plays in the camcorder, yet the data is still there because the card registers as full.

I conclude the following, which, if you concur, you may wish to put out as a warning to other users:

1. If you encounter any recording fault, ingest all recorded footage prior to running any tests or search.
2. Unless ICONS are missing from your data display, do not run the ‘Repair Image Database’ utility.
3. Do not use a utility such as Cocktail in an attempt to retrieve lost data as this may further corrupt your files.

I still wonder whether this fault is memory card-related since the faults you experienced at Jan’s party and last night’s shoot were using the same (Transcend 16GB Class 10) card. I’ve not had any trouble with my other (Transcend 16GB Class 6) cards. That said, the suspect card was recently used to record a music concert and behaved perfectly. Have you ever had a problem recording to the internal memory?”

So you see these accounts are at least 3 months apart using different Sony camcorders the interesting factor that seems to run between them is the use of Transend Class 10 cards which would in my opinion be the number one suspect. To put it in perspective hundreds of people all over the world are using solid state day in day out with little to no problems. I myself on the whole use Transend SDHC class 10 cards and have also suffered lost footage twice but twice out of hours of successful filming with class 10 Transend SDHC cards leads me to one simple conclusion…

If you are filming an event like a wedding ceremony or a dance show where you are liable to have prolonged read/write sessions it would be prudent to use cards like SanDisk which are guaranteed to give you 30MB/s rather than depend on Transend cards that may be class 10 but only sustain 20MB/s and remember that speed is variable.

The one major problem with solid state is it’s unforgiving, if you are filming and for any reason the simplest being your battery runs out…you loose everything from the point you pressed the record button and that may be the whole of someones wedding ceremony and your reputation down the spout.

It is always advisable to loose 2-3 minutes of someones wedding in order to stop recording and power down your camcorder to change batteries than chance loosing everything and one other good bit of timley advice is do not span footage from one card to another, once again stop the recording and change card slots, spanning causes more misery than you can imagine.


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

Paul Joy Filming for Harley-Davidson

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Highlights from the 2011 Harley-Davidson Euro Festival in the Golfe De Saint-Tropez, France.

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

Lenses Revisited “Your options are limited being a Canon owner”

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Sadly I have to admit to being a tad blinkered as a Canon owner when it comes to the AF101. If you own Canon glass your options to use it with the Panasonic AF101 are very limiting, there are two choices the Kipon which failed me after 3 months light use and the Birger which is taking ages to appear and will be an expensive option.

I think Erik Widding CEO of Birger Engineering has bitten off more than he can chew with his electronic Canon mount and has been a technical nightmare made worse by the fact that good old Canon don’t allow anyone to see the EOS lens technical drawings that would make life a lot easier for those making adapters like Birger, or so I am told.

This brings me to my recent decision to off-load my Canon gear in favour of Nikon, again, just before I moved over to Canon I had a Nikon D3 and some expensive “Nano” glass which I now regret selling.

You have two choices with Nikon glass DX and non DX, DX glass is made for APS-C sensors which are smaller than full frame 35mm sensors, you can use DX glass on “FX” full frame cameras but the camera auto crops and only outputs a 5MP picture. This is where a micro Four Thirds camera like the AF101 scores, you can use all the Nikon lenses which gives you a massive choice and some sexy glass.

I decided to plum for the 17-55 F2.8 DX zoom lens as my standard lens on the AF101 which gives a crop equivalent to a 34-110 lens and the new Sony FS100, once again the Sony Super 35mm chip is almost the same size of the APS-C sensor so your choice is so much bigger. The Nikon lenses do not need power to enable the iris allowing adapter manufacturers like MTF a free reign to develop Nikon to mFT (AF101), Nikon to Sony E (FS100, VG10) and the Nikon to Sony F3 mount, all readily available off the shelf.

I am handing back my loan lens the Lumix 7-14mm mFT which I thought I would miss till I bought the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 DX lens which gives you a crop equivalent to a 22-32mm lens and it’s a cracking piece of glass, sharp as a tac, this in my opinion beats the 7-14 Lumix hands down for sharpness and does not have nearly the same distortion at the edges that the Lumix suffers from and the Tokina is f2.8 with a manual iris.

I have been blinkered waiting for the Birger mount, hanging onto my semi redundant Canon glass when there is a whole new world out there if you buy into some Nikon mount glass, you even have a choice of Zeiss FP.2 glass which is the SLR version of their CP2 glass…same glass less money.

I am always being asked if there is a good stock lens to have on the AF101 and I can now add the Nikon 17-55 f2.8 DX lens as a good all rounder.


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

Zacuto EVF Pro “Worth the wait…a blue moon product”

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

I bought the Cineroid during BVE in London because the Panasonic AF101 needs an external viewfinder to see critical focus. The Cineroid was good and has now found a new home because I now have one of the long awaited Zacuto EVF Pro external viewfinders. I have no affiliation with Zacuto and joined the long queue of prospective owners and paid full dollar, so anything you see here is my own honest opinion.

The first thing that strikes you when you hold it is the build quality far superior to the Cineroid I am sorry to report, it looks built to go into battle. One of the Cineroids achilles heals was the battery compartment, very hard to remove and the battery was quite tight, the Zacuto on the other hand is a breeze to slip on and off and uses a Canon LP-E6 which are very easy to order and get hold of.

The bottom line is the picture quality of the LCD and I have to take my hat off the Steve and the boys they have sourced a cracking LCD panel it’s the best, cleanest picture I have seen in a long time, it is so smooth you cannot even see the pixels. One of the main attractions was the full size HDIM sockets “in and loop out”, the Cineroid is spoiled using the mini HDMI connector, I went through 2 mini HDMI cables because of poor construction. Zacuto are thinking about an HD SDI version but this will be more expensive and exclude its use from the Sony FS100 and the Atomos Ninja.

The menu is very user friendly and just for old times sake I tried switching from colour to monochrome and I actually prefer the colour picture in other words you do not gain anything by switching it over to black and white.

If I gave gold stars for this product it would be 5 out of 5 but I can go better than that I will give the Zacuto EVF Pro the first ever coveted “Blue moon product of 2011 award”, I can not fault it in any way apart from the pouch that comes with the EVF, I emailed Steve as to my findings with the size of the pouch and told him that the EVF would not fit fully built and Steve told me “The pouch is only meant to hold the EVF alone not with the Z-Finder on it.  Most people keep them in two pieces apart when packing or transporting. Lots of people keep the Z-finder around their neck.” I still think Zacuto have missed a trick with the pouch as I prefer not to dismantle my EVF the pouch would have come in very handy, but a small camera bag will do the trick.

Conclusion : What else can I say, this is such a deluxe product in every way, for once a team of cameramen have designed a product for the market that does what it says on the tin…robust, easy to use and an LCD screen to die for”. The Zacuto EVF comes in four flavours starting from $675 to $1000 for the Pro version reviewed here. The only one downside is the EVF only comes with a mini HDMI to HDMI cable and for AF101, F3 and FS100 owners this cable is redundant any chance of adding the same cable but with HDMI to HDMI, please.

If you own a Panasonic AF101, Sony F3 or a Sony FS100 this is the recommended viewfinder for critical focusing. “Not only is it designed by cameramen but recommended by independent cameramen as well”


The Blue moon award is for a product that is so well made and thought out. “Because they only make products as good as this once in a blue moon”

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

Zacuto EVF Pro REVIEW this weekend

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

One take music video…fantastic !

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I saw this on Philip Blooms blog and had to share it, they closed down a city to make this happen, don’t see Glasgow doing this.

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

Canon accessories “ALL SOLD”

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Thought you might like a last minute bargain, I have 4 major Canon accessories for sale, 2x Speedlights, 1x Speedlight transmitter and 1x battery grip for the 5DMkII. Once again you can email me if you are interested, UK residents only I am afraid. Email hdwarrior@mac.com

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

Panasonic’s AF101…”Five months later”

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The Panasonic AF101 has started a massive ball rolling from the day it landed in the UK and beyond, Panasonic were quietly optimistic about world wide sales but were dumb struck by the uptake of the camcorder and has outstripped everyone’s expectations. Having owned one for the last 5 months I have only now had time to reflect on what has been a momentous journey with my 101.

Seen here in the making of my first teaching DVD “Getting the best from your Panasonic AF101” and using my favourite Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f0.95 lens, the camera has been a fantastic asset and a joy to use…so why am I swapping it for the new Sony FS100 ?

I not only report to you on my blog but I am a technical adviser for H Preston Media and need to keep on top of the new technology, the other deciding factor is 1080 50p. I am about to embark on a massive project about type one diabetes which involves filming all over Scotland and I need on certain occasions to film interviews with two cameras. As I am about to purchase the Sony NX70 partly because of it’s ability to shoot 1080 50p and various other pro features…XLR inputs, manual gain etc. it seemed logical to look at the Sony FS100 as a partner for the NX70.

I am now used to filming interviews with a nice shallow depth of field (SDoF) so the FS100 with the same colour matrix would match far better. Both cameras will be filming 1080 50p so I wont get any issues on the Final Cut Pro 10 timeline.

I have also off loaded my Canon gear, the 5D2 and 4 “L” lenses I have to admit I won’t miss the 5D2 it was not a patch on my Nikon D3 or Nikon glass in fact I am now building up a new rage of Nikon glass in anticipation of getting my FS100.

Looking back over the last 5 months I can now reveal my thoughts on the AF101 and the range of glass I had amassed.

The AF101 was not perfect but then tell me a camcorder that is, I did not like the positioning of the start-stop buttons, very alien to a seasoned cameraman used to having those buttons on the camera front and behind the lens grip, small detail,… like all camera manufacturers Panasonic are not alone in leaving out features that may be introduced into a future version like, 4:2:2, 10bit, 50Mbs and 1080 50p with sound.

The viewfinder needs to be beefed up in a future design it’s not fit for purpose and even Panasonic will concede to this by having a Cineroid EVF attached onto their demo AF101 at BVE 2010. Hi Res EVFs like Cineroid and Zacuto have grown out of the lack of decent viewfinders and single position low res LCD DSLRs.

So what about my choice of glass…there is no doubt the Voigtlander, Nokton 25mm f0.95 has been my star buy along side the Canon 50mm f1.2 using the Kipon adapter. The two times crop gives these two lenses an angle of view the same as a 50mm and a 100mm lens.

This has been the hardest one to get my head round…the 2x crop…no matter what lens you attach to the AF101 you always get a 2x crop or do you ? All lenses that fit a 35mm DSLR full frame or APS-C give you a 2x crop in other words you only see the picture produced by the centre of the lens which means you get far sharper pictures with no fall off as you are using the sweet-spot of the lens itself.

What about micro Four Third (mFT) lenses, well they are built to cover the 4/3″ sensor itself so you do get fall off and corner aberrations the same as you would using a 35mm lens on a full frame DSLR, like all lenses some are better than others. So is there a 2x crop using a mFT lens, say the 7-14mm f4 Lumix lens, the short answer is yes. To this day I do not understand how a lens made for the sensor size like mFT lenses still incur a 2x crop but I double checked using 3 lenses…a 14-140mm Lumix mFT set to 50mm, a 50mm Nikon f1.4 G and a 17-55mm Nikon DX lens set to 50mm and they all contained the same image size which on the DX and G lens the 50mm was producing the look of a 100mm lens.

Lenses…I had Canon “L” glass but the Kipon adapter is not the solution, after my Kipon became loose I barred myself from using my precious “L” glass on what became an inferior adapter, so most of my latter lenses were the Nokton 25mm f0.95 mFT and my 50mm Nikon f1.4 using the MTF Nikon to mFT adapter.

It became apparent that for interviews the Nokton 25mm mFT or Nikon 50mm/MTF adapter were the favourites and my tip for anyone entering this marketplace is to buy Nikon glass. I am now swapping over to Nikon, again, and is sharper than Canon and that statement comes from a long term Canon man !!!

At some time in the future we may see the Birger mount, this will power your Canon lenses using a £600+ adapter but in reality I now prefer the Nikon glass on a good old manual MFT adapter at under £300.

I am now kitting myself out with various Nikon lenses to use with the FS100, so far I have bought a Nikon 50mm f1.4 G, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 DX, Tokina 10-20mm f2.8 (Nikon fit), a Sony “A” 30mm Zeiss macro lens and a Sony “A” to “E” adapter and am looking at buying a Zeiss ZF.2 Nikon fit lens.

I am not leaving my AF101 because I do not like the pictures it produces far from it, I am in the very fortunate position of being able to move from Panasonic back to Sony and I have to say I may live to regret my move, only time will tell.

Remember because of my vast knowledge using the AF101 I will still be able to assist you if you have any questions or setup problems…you can email me at hdwarrior@me.com

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

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