10 Months later with very few camcorders reaching 50Mbs recording

Categories: Miscellaneous 8 Comments

Amazingly it’s been 10 months since the first large sensor camcorder the Panasonic AF101 appeared on the market followed by Sony with their F3 and the FS100.

The AF101 and the FS100 are both £5K and under, with the Sony F3 popping it’s head just above £11K making it the “most” professional as far as pricing and level of features of the three camcorders.

Even more surprising is the lack of so called broadcast features on all three camcorders especially the F3 which is no better than an EX-3 with it’s 35Mbs SxS card slots. You do have the ability to output 4:4:4 from the F3 but Sony have misunderstood the animal who uses such cameras, in my opinion.

Cameramen do not like extra connections if they can avoid it, every extra connection coming out of a camera is one extra failure point in technical terms so bringing out a camcorder with a hi-end potential and not starting at the magical 50Mbs is ludicrous.

While all 3 camcorders produce fantastic pictures especially in low light they are limited to certain types of filming with one exception the F3, Sony decided the F3 was to take on several roles and is the only large sensor camera to date with a zoom rocker and a dedicated 14x servo zoom (Optional).

I said at the time this was a stroke of genius from Sony to include such a feature giving the F3 a far wider appeal but once again adding to the cost of the camera itself.

The BBC have gone down the road of Sony PMW-350 s and 500s with a few freelancers jumping onto the 500 bandwaggon giving them far more flexabilty and the  so called BBC HD starting point of 50Mbs for HD production.

The PMW-350 is an excellent camcorder but 35Mbs HD means Nano flashes and all the complications and extra cost that come with external recorders.

For years cameramen and women have been used to filming with a single camcorder like Betacam, especially for news, you don’t have time to faff about with Nano Flashes if you are sent out on a news job.

So 10 months down the line we have many new camcorders but very few making the grade of true HD broadcast spec out of the box…

Sony… PMW-500 (50Mbs),  PMW-F3 (35Mbs), NEX-FS100 (28Mbs), HXR-NX70 (28Mbs)

Panasonic…AG-AF101 (21Mbs), AG-AC130 (21Mbs), AG-AC160 (21Mbs), AG-HPX250 P2 (50Mbs)

JVC…GY-HM790 (35Mbs), GY HM150 (35Mbs)

Canon…XF305/300 (50Mbs), XF300, XF105/100 (50Mbs), XA10 (24Mbs)

So what have we got, not one large sensor camcorder hits the 50Mbs mark which is poor in my opinion though I do realise this will be a feature in version two of at least the F3 if it is to have any chance of selling second time round.

My productions do not suffer for not having 50Mbs but it leaves a large number of fellow professionals out in the cold as they would love to offer 50Mbs but not at the cost of a set of expensive “Christmas tree light wiring” to add to their complications.

As I said at the start of this blog cameramen/women do not care for extra bits of wiring, extra bits that add to something going wrong…Canon may change all this in 8 days time !

Different jobs require different looks therefore different camcorders, I have plumbed for 2 NX70s and 1 FS100 this year as all three camcorders record in 1080 50p, the NX70s are used for most jobs while the FS100 is used for interview work. I was sorely tempted by the Panasonic AC160 but the lack of 1080 50p with sound and differance in looks due to the colour matrix changed my mind, sad as it is a great camcorder brimming with lots of useful pro features like syncro scan.

For once I hope Canon come up with the goods on November the 3rd as for years Sony and Panasonic have been playing cat and mouse with us over features that magically appear on the next updated model but are always shy of being the “perfect spec camcorder”.

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

10 Days and counting…3rd November 2011 “Canon at Hollywood”

Categories: Miscellaneous 4 Comments

Canon have it in their power in 10 days time to change the game forever…if they have been as savvy with a large sensor camcorder as they have been with the XF range of cameras they will wipe the board if they bring out a camcorder with the above specs.

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

Mini Review of the RODE Lapel Microphone (Well Recomended)

Categories: Miscellaneous 5 Comments


Firstly I have no connections with RODE as a company and I bought my own mic system due to the quality of previous RODE products I already own.

I have a project that needs two identical lapel microphones, now the cheaper option was to buy another Sennheiser or AKG but to be honest I have not been very impressed with either lapel microphone.

Recently I have been buying into the RODE brand of microphones and after watching the “look around the RODE factory” video recently I was further convinced this was the road to go down.

First thing that strikes you is the sheer size of the RODE lapel mic, it’s by all accounts subminiature measuring 12mm x 4mm. The best news is the fact that it screws off the cable, this is very refreshing as 99% of the lapel marketplace are bonded on to the cable making it impossible to replace.

Secondly and just as important to me is the type of cable used, it’s a 1.5mm thin Kevlar reinforced low noise cable, and I can vouch for the low noise I used this mic for my studio inserts for the Panasonic AC160 review.

The third best part about the RODE system is the variety of end connectors you can get for this lapel microphone, I use phantom powered XLR connectors on the whole hard wired to the camcorder.

On the occasion when I need to use a radio transmitter I have the Sennheiser 3.5 mini jack connector and there is a further 6 connectors for various makers transmitters which is in my opinion very forward thinking indeed.

A truly modular system and extension cables as well, yes you can extend your mic cable with a 3 metre Micon cable for a further £27.

The microphone is an omni-directional polar pattern 60Hz to 18KHz and a sound pressure level of 94dB. I can hold my hand up and tell you that I am delighted with my two microphones, they come in an anti-trauma waterproof case and as you can see wind puffs are also part of the kit.

For £150 per microphone kit the RODE system is the best on the sub-miniature marketplace and you will be hard pressed to find a more versatile microphone system on the marketplace.

RODE are a very impressive forward thinking microphone manufacturer and every microphone I own which is now six, the sound from all six microphones are fantastic and quality at a price guarenteed not to break the bank.

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

Vision Charity “Think where you would be without your eyesight”

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My first encounter with Vision Charity was at the video show at Haydock Park last year.

“Vision Charity was created in 1975 and celebrates over 35 years of fundraising for the benefit of blind and visually impaired children. Its foundation was the professional and corporate television industry, but since then it has broadened its reach beyond the Visual Communications Industries.

 Our Mission is to try and inject fun into the lives of the blind and visually impaired children we support as well as their families. We have succeeded in doing this through the support of our ever expanding support base of corporate, celebrity and individual sponsors. Our board is well connected representing the worlds of broadcast, finance, private equity, venture capital, fashion retail, PR and Marketing. We also maintain very close links with professional organisations including the Royal National Institute for the Blind, Sense, The Royal London Society for the Blind, The Royal National College – Hereford, Autism Independent and many others.
We actively work with our Patrons, most notably the recent addition of David and Coraline Ginola, in the marketing efforts surrounding our various fundraising events most notable the recent launch of our sports legacy fund initiative.
Our primary aim is to raise money to provide access to facilities and equipment for our blind and visually impaired children. We have provided equipment including sensory rooms, the Katie Price playground at Dorton House School as well as weekend breaks for these children and their families. Making life easier for this community of people is our credo and there are many more opportunities that we can explore.
The management of the Charity has traditionally been through volunteers.”

Only this week I was photographing a wee cracker of a pup called Ike, he is 8 weeks old and starting out in his major career as a guide dog for the blind. These are very special dogs and I have a lot of time for people like my friend Lynda who has volunteered to look after and train wee Ike till he is about thirteen months old.

As cameramen and women we use our eyes daily to produce many types of programs for television, corporate and industrial to special events like weddings. We have a special relationship with our sight so why not give a donation to a well worth charity.


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

Panasonic AG-AC160 Video Review

Categories: Miscellaneous 38 Comments

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

NEW Canon EOS-1DX Price £5299 March 2012

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

Specific video features…

Improved movie mode with reduced artifacts and moire, no line skipping, better low light performance, no file size limitation, SMTPE compliant time code, on screen audio meter, new video compression Intra frame and IPB, 1920x1080p full HD shooting at 24, 25 and 30fps, 1280 x 720p at 50 or 60 fps.

This is fantastic news for not only serious photographers but for serious video producers who are kitted out for DSLR shooting. The best bit about the news is it clears the way for November the 3rd being a video camcorder and dare I say it a large sensor film camera.

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

ProVideo 2011

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ProVideo 2011 starts tomorrow at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry for 2 days run by the IOV. This is usually a great show, sadly I will miss out this year due to other work commitments but all the usual faces will be there.

Sony are exibiting  and will be showing off the NX70, PMW-350 and the FS100 camcorders.

John Preston and the boys will be selling a lot of major new kit from Sony NX70, F3, FS100 to the new Panasonic kit the AG-AC160 and the AG-HPX250 P2 camcorder to the new Canon 305 50Mbs camcorder and some new LED lighting, Rode microphones and lots more.

The address is Jaguar Hall 2, Ricoh Arena, Coventry CV6 6GE (19-20th October 2011…Day one 10-5pm…Day two 10-4pm)


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

Panasonic AG-AC160 Progress Report (Updated)

Categories: Miscellaneous 22 Comments

Why is it taking so long to produce the review of the new Panasonic AF160…Simple…I live in Scotland, the land of the rain. I kid you not this part of the world is like monsoon season at the moment plus I have had some paying work in-between so I am afraid it’s not been easy putting together a review of the AC160.

I found myself filming my local fox this morning a wee soul that lives beside us in some spare land the picture below was taken earlier this year with her new cubs. The AC160 has a fantastic 22x lens and amazingly has a digital zoom that’s worth its weight in gold.

Filming the fox I found myself playing with the digital zoom which just happens to be on USER preset No 2, the downside is that you only seem to be able to toggle from 2, 5, 10 and off which is a pain as 5 and 10x are not as usable as 2x.

This would be a great wild life camcorder as the 2x digital zoom is very usable and at 44x you are getting a cracking very un-digitised picture, the OIS is not as good as the steady shot seen on the likes of the Sony NX70.

Low light is better than I was expecting from a 1/3″ camcorder but I will be doing some further low light testing this week. The weight of the camcorder is very illusive as it looks a lot heavier than it actually is.

Although it seemingly has a variable frame rate I have chosen to record my footage at 720 50p because it does not film at 1080 50p unless you are willing to forgo sound.

I have tried simultaneous recording onto both SDHC cards and I have also used the syncro scan feature with great success, this very useful feature is badly missing from both the Sony FS100 and the NX70.

UPDATE : Shot footage at 9dBs this evening in a dark pub setting and I was very impressed with the footage viewed on a 50″ plasma TV. The phantom power switches are very small and a tad on the fiddly side for my liking.

Unlike the NX70 although this camera has a 2 stop reduction in light from wide to tight, filming outside this evening you were not as aware of that loss of light that is very apparent on the NX70 and the 160 has twice the zoom ratio !

Outside daylight footage is excellent and reviewing the 2x digital zoom is very impressive the 1st camcorder NOT to look digitally enhanced when using a digital zoom. (Note. using 2x only).

Auto focus struggles sometimes in poor lighting conditions…no more than the competition to be fair to the 160.

My friend Alister and I will be compairing the Panasonic AC160 alongside the Sony NX5 this weekend using a Panasonic vision mixer and both camcorders plugged via HD SDI.

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

Shoot it Yourself “Weddings videos with little to no production values”

Categories: Miscellaneous 11 Comments

Dragons Den a BBC series in which budding entrepreneurs get three minutes to pitch their business ideas to five multi-millionaires willing to invest their own cash. Two weeks ago two ladies from Clapham came on the show to introduce their idea of handing out a video camcorder to a budding punter to film at their friends wedding and the girls would charge £849.

For the £849 you get a dated Sony camcorder for a day to film whatever you wish at your friends wedding, returning the camera and tapes to the girls, they spend 3 days editing some kind of video together ending up with a DVD.

At first I was horrified at this concept but that depends what side of the fence you are coming at this…

Pro cameraman/editor’s hat…Very unprofessional footage to work with and as we all know you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear. This idea turns years of instilling into punters heads that they must get a professional to film the wedding…upside down.

Businessman’s hat…Great if you can get away with charging £849 and doing half the work.

There must be hundreds of wedding videographers cringing at this idea but if you think about it it’s not such a bad idea, who in their right mind wants to spend one more second at a strangers wedding if you can possibly avoid it.

The worst part of the wedding is when the £1500 a day wedding photographer skips off after the mock cutting of the cake and you still have at least 3 hours ahead of you.

The point is if you don’t enjoy being there then it makes sense to let someone else do your job…in fact I will bet the two girls are charging a lot more than many so called professional wedding videographers and they are only doing half the work.

It goes against all professional ethics but times are changing…no one thought 10 years ago that people would be filming weddings with photographic cameras, it’s all changing though I may add not for the better.

Anyone in their right mind will always choose a professional videographer over a DIY Video Bob or Bettie but financially if people in Clapham are affording this DIY filming service with editing and DVD services then you should all be charging £1500 minimum per professional wedding video and I bet thats way off the Clapham average cost of a wedding video…£650 at a guess.

Latterly when I was in the wedding scene I would on occasions hand out a smaller camcorder to see what footage the best man could produce or in one occasion I gave the flower girl a camera, so as you can see this idea is not new but the “extra” footage shot by amateurs was clearly identified and the client got the best of both worlds a cracking wedding video with some extra family input. The important point being 98% was professional and the extra raw footage was cherry picked and even the flower girl was given some tuition on using a video camera.

Good luck to the girls, they should be updating and handing out Sony MC50s, simple solid state camcorders with very little to tweak and cracking HD or SD pictures.

They prove one thing people are willing to spend money on little to no production values and are happy with a few copyright music tracks and an edit on iMovie…how much lower are production values in this world going to drop.

Conclusion : Over the past two days I have spoken to many people involved in and around this topic and it seems this has been good for the wedding video scene in general.

1. It has raised the profile.

2. Given many cheap skates a lot to think about.

3. Given the professional a benchmark for the first time “If you want to film it yourself it will only cost £849”

There is nothing to stop you as a working wedding videographer offering this very same “DIY” service as a starter package or doing what I did and giving various members of the wedding party a shot at filming some footage with a smaller easy to use camcorder.

The best news is the new benchmark starting price is £849 if you are charging less than this you are too cheap !

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

Steve Jobs dies aged 56 “The Genius who brought colour into many lives”

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments

It’s like loosing one of your family, the daddy of Apple computers has sadly passed away today and I for one will forever be indebted to him. This Genius and visionary was my only saviour from the PC and a fantastic editing package Final Cut Pro.

My business is run on Apple computers from the 23″ iMac that I am typing this tribute on to the MacPro that day in, day out edits many happy clients video footage to the three iPhones and two iPad 2s we are steeped in Apple fantasticness and it’s all due to one man…Mr Steve Jobs.

I thank you Steve from all my heart and am glad you are now free from any pain and distress you may have suffered and my best wishes to your family and all Apple employees who will also be feeling very sad today.

Only yesterday were we treated to a further advancement to the iPhone 4 the 4s with many fantastic new features and people are now calling for the launch date of October 14th to be called Steve Jobs day…I would prefer the Apple stores to close for a day in respect of Steve who with his vision and commitment has brought not only a lot of pleasure to many people’s lives but a lot of employment worldwide.

In the words of the great man himself “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them,” he once said. “By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

A lovely tribute to Steve on Apples own web site from the people who knew Steve best…

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

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