Z-Finder EVF from Zacuto ($775)

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Sony NEX-VG10 “First Play”

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As I am working on a large corporate project at the moment I had little time to play with the Sony NEX-VG10…so I took it with me at lunchtime while walking the dog. My mother was a willing subject and as you can see from the screen grab above this little gem of a camcorder produces the business. Sony have made a slight error bringing this camcorder into the domestic marketplace as in my opinion it would be better suited as a semi Pro product.

The camcorder needs you to work at it, this is not a camcorder for filming happy snaps of the kids…remember we have no electronic zoom, the lens is completely manual.

One important point while I am here is that you will need to buy a mini HDMI to HDMI cable if you want to view your footage on an LCD/Plasma. The other major tip is to buy a Sony NP-FV100 battery as the extra weight helps balance the camera better.

I find the manual focusing great as long as your subject does not walk towards the camera but for great tracking shots you can’t beat the autofocus, word of warning, the autofocus is very good…once it locks on to a moving subject but it’s far from the fastest autofocus I have come across, it makes up for it’s tracking abilities but don’t rely on it for some quick zoom and focus shots.

The lens that comes with the VG10 is an 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 Sony lens, it seems on first outing a very sharp lens indeed and I have no qualms in using it for further projects. Because Sony have decided that this system is to rely on photographic lenses you do not have an electronic zoom so you are back to filming the old fashioned way…picking your shots, framing and filming…some of us may say it’s the only way to film !

The camcorder is a bit quirky as yet I do not see anyway to lock the exposure when you are in anything but manual exposure mode which I find strange.

The menu system relies on a thumbwheel built into the control side of the camcorder and I must say it’s a bit hit or miss…I do wish Sony would stop using this kind of navigation. Unlike the Sony MC50 camcorder this camera has an “ON” position at the record button and has a gain control, by pressing the GAIN button you have 0dB all the way through to 27dB plus AUTO GAIN. I am a big fan of 0dB and outdoors this setting keeps me happy knowing that I am keeping gain right out the picture.

There is one very stupidly placed button and thats the PHOTO button on the top of the handgrip inevitably when you go to change a setting and nothing happens it’s because your hand is resting on the PHOTO button which is badly placed right under the camcorders carry handle.

The camera takes very sharp 14MP photographs which just might be a bonus depending what you are filming, I would suggest that if you take this camera on holiday you would not have to take your digital camera as well.

This in my opinion is as far from a point and shoot camcorder as you can get and as I have said earlier I don’t know why Sony have placed this camcorder in the domestic camp. This is a specialised product and needs a fair bit of previous knowledge to make it happen especially as Sony are pitching it as a Shallow Depth of Field product. SDoF as you can see from my pictures above is what this camcorder majors on and as long as you get your head around the manual zoom and quirky menu system I am sure this will start to make in roads into the DSLR marketplace.

UPDATE :

Help ma boab as they say in the Broon’s would you credit it Sony have splashed out and given us a FREE windjammer which I did not notice till I started to read the instructions, let’s hope Sony professional are looking at this and start giving us free windjammers across all the range of new camcorders.

If Sony are working on the VG11 then please re-position the PHOTO button, take out the PUSH part of the thumbwheel, it seems that we have no control of sound so manual pots should be added plus indication of levels in the LCD and an exposure lock as seen on the MC50.

This camcorder has been built for filming as it’s priority therefore lacks all the nasties seen with current DSLRs also it takes a great number of Sony E and A lenses though you need an adapter to use the A lenses.

I am hoping to film a full video review during the weekend and I will edit some footage to let you see how amazing this camera is also some of the boys on various forums want to know how good or bad the VG10s rolling shutter is, well I will be testing it against it’s arch enemy the Canon 5DMk11 !

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

H Preston Media has NEX-VG10s in stock for NEXT DAY delivery

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

First UK video review on the new Sony NEX-VG10 “Coming soon”

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

IDX Easy Steady Video Review (7.5m)

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I would like to start by thanking Robert Holland from IDX for taking the time and trouble to demonstrate how to setup and use the Easy Steady. Robert showed me how to balance the sled and thats no mean task though after a couple of tries I got the hang of it. The kit consists of a vest, sled, arm and multipurpose stand and some allan keys. The vest comes in various sizes and if buying a kit you will be fitted for the vest that fits your build.

You see steady systems like this used regularly on Sky Sports, especially live football matches and I can assure you I have a great admiration for the cameramen who adorne such vests with broadcast cameras twice the weight of the EX-1 I was using.

This is a specialist area of camerawork and many have accomplished their skills using Steadycam units. Easy Steady is a system made in Italy and in my opinion just as good in both quality and workmanship as any steady system. It’s a knack, you have to spend time getting to know your partner.

In fact the Easy Steady is a combination of two half’s, the first getting the camcorder balanced to a nat’s whisker, the second is how you move around with the unit strapped onto your torso. The moving about is a bit like dancing although more like Michael Jacksons “Moon Walking” you need to learn to slink along with your camcorder rather than the conventional walking motion.

As you can see I started off wobbly as expected and with time got to level two…never hoping to reach level five after two days training, but it looks the business and if you become accomplished could hire yourself out for various productions.

If you would like to learn more or buy an Easy Steady contact Robert Holland at www.idx-europe.co.uk

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Sony’s Mystery FilmLike Camcorder “Re visiting the Sony Press Picture”

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So what do we know about Sony’s Mystery FilmLike camcorder, firstly it’s due in all it’s full glory about February 2011 that’s when we shall get specifications and the all illusive pricing. In fact that’s a good place to start during IBC we were getting pricing from $50,000 to £6,000 and various flavours in between. If we just take a minute to look round the camera I think we can see some telling give aways as to the cameras price…

So lets look at what we know…we have a PL mount for prime lenses but strangely Sony seem to have given this camera a TWO position ND switch…not very useful or what you would expect from a HI-end full frame camcorder. The domestic viewfinder stuck on the handle does not inspire confidence that we are getting a top end camera.

A lot of what we are seeing is from the £4K end of Sony’s range of camcorders, shutter, gain, WB and 2 channels of audio this leads me to suggest we are getting a camcorder that is far from Hi-end, there was a video playing beside the camcorder that produced nice clean noiseless pictures so what do I conclude from what we know and what we can see ourselves.

I am aware that we are looking at a 35mm motion sensor rather than the 4/3″ sensor as seen in the Panasonic AF101, which is good news for those of you craving the 35mm motion sensor but everything else smacks of £4K pro features as seen on an NX5 for example the rest of the camera does not match the feature set of a $50K FilmLike camera.

Talking of 35mm sensors I had a humbling experience on DVX USER during the week as I was banging on about 35mm sensors, full frame and APS-C lenses getting completely mixed up till I saw the light…35mm Full Frame photographic sensors are the reason most footage is produced on the Canon 5DMk11 as this is by far the biggest sensor and produces amazing footage but with all the nasties that come with it. The new Panasonic AG AF101 uses a Four Thirds sensor which is a lot smaller than the 35mm Full Frame sensor but does not suffer any of the problems inherent with the DSLR. Sony’s new FilmLike camera by all accounts uses the 35mm motion sensor now as you can see it is a lot bigger than the Panasonic sensor which is why we are seeing very noiseless, punchy footage.

There is nothing to indicate the format being used with this camcorder but at a guess I think it will be SDHC nor what bit rate but if they are going to catch the eye of the broadcaster then 50Mbs would be helpful. Like the Panasonic I am sure it will have multi frame rates with everything from 1080 50i to 720 50p once again I doubt we are going to get the holy grail of 1080 50p.

I have already predicted the price of this FilmLike camcorder at £6,000 and re visiting the press picture I don’t think I am that far away. Don’t get me wrong if Sony bring out a Cinematography camera at £6K or less Panasonic will have a race on their hands but lets not kid ourselves the starting block is during December when Panasonic ship the first of their AF101 cameras and Sony even at a February announcement won’t start shipping till at least May 2011 giving Panasonic a clear five months head start, but if the Sony has indeed got a 35mm motion sensor maybe that extra five months might just be worth the wait.

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IBC 2010 “Little to no interest in RED”

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Sadly when I was filming last week at IBC I only saw one RED camera and that was a non working EPIC camera. RED seem to have given up as the home screen has a very telling graphic, an advert for “RED RAY” that seemingly will be available during “2009″…this is September 2010 and no one has bothered to change the RED home screen let alone this glaring mistake for over 9 months !

I was one of REDs fans as I liked the thought of a small independent video manufacturer taking on the big boys like Panasonic, Sony and Arri. Jim seems to have employed more graphics designers than camera engineers as most of what came out of RED was 3D look a likes or as some called it vapourware.

I emailed their web designer pointing out this glaring “2009″ mistake over 2 months ago to a avail, IBC was very telling…not one person stopped to look at the sad, motionless EPIC camera, yet the Panasonic stand was buzzing with DPs and press admiring and reporting on the £4,000 AG-AF101 FilmLike camcorder.

Sony are not far behind with their cinematography camcorder but both Japanese cameras share one massive difference between RED ONE, EPIC etc…YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE AN ENGINEERING DEGREE TO USE THE CAMCORDER. That was always REDs achilles heal…you cant just take it out and start using it.

OK all camcorders need some kind of checklist but the RED is way too complicated in my opinion, most DPs that I know are used to setting up a camcorder the day before a shoot and taking the camera out of the bag and filming…not so with RED. That in my opinion has been the downfall of RED as a working tool, you need to get on with the job in hand not worry about all the pre flight tweaks to make RED work and all the expensive mecanno, bomb viewfinder etc etc.

RED was a good idea on paper but Jim in my opinion got too hung up with engineers and less time spent with DPs, delay after delay till finally the Canon 5D Mk11 and the merry band of followers trampled all over Jim’s dreams even worse was to come with the realisation that Panasonic and Sony were being left behind and are now putting on a brave fight back bringing out their own FilmLike camcorders leaving RED dead in their wake.

UPDATE : I have been getting a lot of flack over at RED USER the forum for everything RED over this article, in fact it was mainly to point out the home page error that HAS STILL NOT BEEN CHANGED that I wrote this article at all. That one solitary page error started to make me think as well as little to no RED cameras at IBC, though I am informed that there were a lot more RED cameras than one at IBC.

There is a section on the right hand side of this page called RED DIGITAL CINEMA (11) which has 11 blog entries all praising RED with the exception of this one…why…times have changed as have the announcements of competitors FilmLike camcorders and more importantly their PRICES.

In my opinion RED should have started with Scarlet, if RED had captured the $6K market place instead of going for the $24K plus elite end of the market we would not have seen such an explosion of DSLRs and many of the DSLR guru bloggers would be talking RED and not Canon. That’s it in a nutshell wrong camera, wrong end of the marketplace…in my opinion.

Scarlet does not stand a chance against the Panasonic AG-AF101 priced at $4K which is why in my pinion it will be abandoned or re designed to cope with the Panasonic price bracket.

To give RED their due they replied to my questions both on RED USER and this blog article…

“There is no team of web designers at RED. The guys at RED are busy doing other things. But your point is valid, they really do need a dedicated web guy. An actual team may be overkill.

Philip, I think the reason why people are abrasive toward you is because of your blog. You missed a lot of key facts in your mentioning of RED’s web site and presence at IBC. This forum is RED’s real outlet into the world, not their own web site. Strange as it may seem, that’s just the way it is.

As for RED cameras at IBC, there were many. I wasn’t there, but I know of several companies using them at their booths and in their displays and I’ve seen plenty of pictures to confirm that.

Small-mindedness is not what you’re seeing here. You’re coming into RED’s house and asking questions that any self-respecting RED fanboy already knows the answer to. If you are indeed following RED, you would know that they have not lost their enthusiasm, but rather the opposite. It’s true that much of their development has gone silent over the past year or more. But the competition is paying attention now and they can’t be as freely open. They made some judgement errors in announcing future products. As the products evolved, they became something else and longer development times were needed. This is not out of the ordinary for any complicated electronics development, let alone something as complex as the Epic camera. But most development companies keep the product under wraps until it’s closer to release, rather than announcing it once it’s become a cohesive idea on a drawing board.

I think that’s one thing that has attracted many to RED, their openness right from the beginning. But it’s a double-edged sword. People all too often try to make plans around announced products and it can sometimes backfire on them.

And while the delays seem perpetual in nature, you also have to consider that RED has still shipped nearly 8000 RED One cameras, most of which are out there working every day. These cameras are being used to shoot everything from no-budget music videos and short films to Hollywood blockbusters. To ship that many cameras in 3 years is truly an achievement for a cinema-camera system. That is something Arri, Aaton, Silicon Imaging, etc.. have not accomplished. Arri Alexa is selling like crazy, but still not at a pace that will rival the RED One in the same amount of time.

Epic is getting closer every day. It will be worth the wait. Then we’ll see how Scarlet shapes up, which should follow very soon after.”   Jeff Kilgroe RED USER Moderator

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A look round IBC by HD Warrior (19m)

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[xr_video id="4fa18166ffad442d8d53812fda47ce2e" size="md"]

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BBC to utilise Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 “No surprise here”

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Adobe Systems have today announced that the BBC is adopting Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 within its Creative Desktop Initiative to improve workflow efficiency, create a tapeless environment and reduce costs.The deployment of an additional 2,000 seats will make Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 the company’s primary tool for non-linear editing and represents a strong endorsement of Adobe by the world-renowned broadcaster.

The BBC will seek to utilise Adobe Premiere Pro CS5′s native 64-bit architecture to increase productivity and efficiency; as well as using the new Adobe Mercury Playback Engine to deliver real-time editing and playback of High Definition sequences without rendering. From ingest to output Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 also provides industry leading support for metadata – making assets easier to find and allowing the corporation to efficiently repurpose media across a number of digital channels.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 has been steadily growing in stature since its release this summer with comprehensive native format support, GPU accelerated real-time performance and enhanced metadata handling. Are we seeing the emergence of a new industry favourite?   Info from CVPs Craig Heffernan

HDW…No surprise here… as Apple have dragged their feet, jumped through hoops to avoid Blu-ray, keep us all waiting for FC-8, no 64bit support….what are people going to do Apple…JUMP SHIP !   Oh I forgot the recent add from Mr Jobbs that will keep us waiting…”It’s Awesome”….MR JOBBS…It’s way too late, people are jumping ship by the hour and take it from me Mr Jobbs if you continue down the road of NO BLU-RAY SUPPORT then Final Cut will DIE…YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED !

Since I wrote this I have received this email from a BBC insider :

It was not a coincidence that the BBC have chosen to go down the Adobe route when they already have editors using Final Cut Pro, thankfully for them Adobe brought Premiere back to the Mac so the switch over won’t be as bad other than installing new software.” ….

THIS IS UTTER RUBBISH!

The BBC is definitely NOT going down the Adobe route, not for serious production editing at least.
Where Premiere is being used (and where it’s being used in the main, is by non-editing professionals) is to prepare programmes for the web, be it the internet or iPlayer.

For the last few years the BBC has been rolling out FCP as its replacement for Avid. As nice as Avid is, it doesn’t fit comfortably in to the BBC’s Mega-hyper-super-dooper video server plan. Final Cut does.
FCP is very very happy to sit on Quantel’s server technology, and Quantel is the BBC’s main provider of that technology.

Why FCP?
Simply put, it integrates in to the new infrastructure being built in the Corporations new facilities around the UK, and its deeply popular with the editors. Editors are very conservative, and so too is the BBC.

If there is a problem for the BBC, it has nothing to do with the current version of Final Cut Pro.
So much so, that if there where a PC/Windows port of FCP it would be on a every BBC desktop, in every office across the globe.
Rolling FCP out across its programme platforms will continue apace, the real headache for the Beeb begins, when Apple introduces a new, very different version of Final cut!

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IBC 2010 video report for H Preston Media

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This report was filmed using a Sony HXR-MC50 and cutaway camera was the HDR-CX550V, both camcorders match perfectly and I can’t see any difference in picture quality though the MC50 does come with a 2 year Sony Silver Warranty.
The MC50 also comes with a very good directional mic which cannot be said for the 550. The domestic Sony gun mic is not a patch on the MC50′s mic.

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