The Sony Trio “Too many cameras, not enough output”

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For long enough Sony had one XDCAM camcorder the PMW-500 that produced the magical 50Mbps full broadcast spec HD but have been loosing a ton of Yen to Canon.

Canon produced the XF300/305 broadcast spec, 50Mbps, three 1/3″ chip HD handheld camcorder which has taken broadcasters, hire facilities and production houses by storm. Here is a full HD spec camcorder for a 1/3 of the price of a PMW-500. The one thing that lets the XF300/305 down is the 1/3″ chipset, it’s noisy in low light compared to a Sony EX3 (1/2″ chipset).

Sony in my opinion are three camcorders too late, it’s unprecedented for a video camera manufacturer to produce 3 similar spec cameras, let alone 3 cameras in four months.

It all started with the PMW-100 which was an MC50 single chip in a bigger body and the ability to record at 50Mbps, the chip size alone put a lot of people off this camera.

Then we were presented with the same body but different lens and chipset, the PMW-200, the 14x constant aperture lens along with the 3 chip 1/2″ Exmor chipset started to get a few of us excited. Having 50Mbps was also a major bonus but about 18 months too late to compete with XF305 sales !

At IBC 2012 Sony are also displaying the PMW-150 with three 1/3″ chipset and a 20x variable aperture lens also sporting the all important 50Mbps recording onto SxS or XQD.

My point is why are we getting 3 very similar 50 Mbps camcorders all within four months of each other when two cameras would suffice.

Who sat down in Sony Japan and made that decision ? ” Three new XDCAM camcorders in 4 months all running at 50Mbps” is this the reason why the NEX-FS700 is difficult to source because the production line is trying to manufacture far too many camcorders !

We love our cameras but we also hate disappointment, there are a lot of very disappointed resellers, end users looking for FS700s, please tell me that the PMW-100 is not interfering with the making of the FS700 !

Just in case you need some guidance we would prefer more FS700’s followed by PMW-200’s both big sellers, then NEX-EA50’s will sell well, followed by the PMW-150.

Personally the camera that I am looking forward to is the PMW-200, finally a no nonsense well spec update to the XDCAM family, having seen some early footage it looks to be a winner for Sony, it’s just a pity it took so long to produce giving Canon the lion share of sales.


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Samyang tilt and shift lens “Quality at affordable prices”

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Samyang Optics is about to release a new lens with the perspective control function — Samyang T-S 24mm 1:3.5 ED AS UMC. The official product presentation will take place on September 18th 2012, during international photographic Photokina fairs held in Cologne.

Very interesting, I bought a Samyang 85mm f1.4 lens last year to try out and keep as a testimony to the Korean lens company who make simple manual lenses at affordable prices.

This is my dog Flori taken with the Canon mount Samyang 85mm f1.4 lens, remember this is a totally manual lens, no auto focus and no auto aperture.

As a more impressive picture and showing the sheer quality of these cheap Korean lenses here is a 100% crop of Candys eye. 85mm f1.4 at f2.8

If the new 24mm tilt and shift lens is anywhere near the quality of the 85mm lens then it will be a snip depending on price compared to Canon at £1695.

I used the Canon 24mm f3.5 T-S lens down at BVE last year and found it to be great for interviews but with one warning, this lens can give you a “look” for interviews but once in the can is not reversible in post.

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IBC Round up 2012

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

As the show goes into day two we now have a clear idea of whats new from the shop floor, BlackMagic Design again steel the show with a Micro Four Third mount for their new Cinema camera.

BlackMagic Cinema Camera Key Features:
• Blackmagic Cinema Camera MFT is identical to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF model.
• High resolution 2.5K sensor allows improved anti aliasing and reframing shots.
• Super wide 13 stops of dynamic range allows capture of increased details for feature film look.
• Built in SSD allows high bandwidth recording of RAW video and long duration compressed video.
• Open file formats compatible with popular NLE software such as CinemaDNG 12 bit RAW, Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. No custom file formats.
• Includes no custom connections. Standard jack mic/line audio in, BNC 3 Gb/s SDI out, headphone, high speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, LANC remote control and standard DC 12-30V power connection.
• Capacitive touch screen LCD for camera settings and “slate” metadata entry.
• Compatible with extremely high quality Micro Four Thirds lenses and other mounts via adapters.
• Supports 2.5K and 1080HD resolution capture in 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 fps.
• Thunderbolt connection allows direct camera capture via included Media Express software and supports live waveform monitoring via the included Blackmagic UltraScope software.
• Includes a full copy of DaVinci Resolve 9.0 color grading software.

My man on the floor got this shot of the new camera…

Panasonic were rather disappointing this year, once again we all expected them to update the AF101, the first large sensor professional camera to hit the market running is now looking rather tired with the likes of the Sony NEX-FS700 and the updated BlackMagic Cinema Camera.

Sony had a new camera on offer the PMW-150

Sony Professional awarded 2014 FIFA World Cup Broadcast Production Contract

–          Sony’s partnership with global satellite operator SES/ Astra to explore 4K broadcasting to the home and the live stream of 4K content demonstrated at the Sony press conference

–          The launch of the PMW-150 handheld XDCAM, means Sony now has the most extensive range of broadcast quality HD422 50Mbps cameras from the PMW-100 to the PMW-200

–          New professional monitors – the PVM-741 OLED and LMD-941W HD LCD monitor – the first 9”monitor to have a Full HD LCD panel resolution – as Sony celebrates 15,000 global sales for its OLED monitors

–          A two year strategic technology partnership with SIS Live that sees Sony cameras and technology fitted across its 20 strong fleet of HD broadcast trucks

–          ITV chooses Sony camcorders for overhaul of regional news production using Sony HXC-100 cameras in studio, and PMW-500 and PMW-EX1 cameras for ENG

Canon show off the new C100

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Day ONE at IBC 2012

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Sony are showing their new 84″ 4K television…

The Sony model XBR-84X900 features smart TV capability and proprietary upscaling technology that the manufacturer said will ensure that “every frame looks clear and crisp with a 4K resolution regardless of the content source.” You can now view your 4K footage from your NEX-FS700 when the firmware update is released !

The set leverages a Quad Full High Definition (QFHD) design that receives native 1080p content and employs a “pixel doubling” of the 1920 x 1080 resolution to achieve noticeably improved performance. Such upscaling is necessary since there is still a widespread lack of native 4K content for home viewing. No price as yet.

The NEW Sony PMW-150

Three 1/3-inch Exmor CMOS sensors compact XDCAM camcorder recording Full HD 422 at 50 Mbps.

Professional XDCAM HD422 handheld camcorder with broadcast HD picture quality.

To complete the market leading XDCAM HD 422 handheld camcorder line up with the PMW-100 and PMW-200, the PMW-150 is a compact camcorder with three 1/3-inch-type Full-HD sensors. With its high-quality Full HD MPEG HD422 at 50 Mbps recording capability in MXF format – widely accepted in broadcasting stations and production houses – the PMW-150 helps boost user creativity in many different applications, including newsgathering and documentary production.

Full control of shooting parameters for high quality acquisition

Independent focus, zoom, and iris rings enable precise shooting in many circumstances. Added to this, by using the CBK-WA01 optional wi-fi adaptor, iris, zoom, and focus can be controlled remotely– ideal when using the camcorder at a distance. Also, genlock In and timecode In/Out interfaces simplify multi -camera configurations.

Highlights of the Focus FS-T2001 Portable HD/SD Media Recorder:

  • HD/SD Field deck for record and playback
  • Supports SONY file formats: HD422 (MXF) / HD420 (MP4/MXF)
  • Dual PC Express slot, Built-in HDD (250 GB)
  • DC 12V, Battery operation (BP-L)
  • HD-SDI in/out, HDMI out, Composite out
  • Integrated LCD for menus, live monitoring, clip playback
  • USB, Giga-bit Ethernet connections

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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IBC 2012

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From my insiders I am told that Sony and Panasonic are due to release new cameras at IBC this year. I can’t make it as I have work commitments this month.

I have a man in the field taking pictures if any new bits of kit appear at IBC.

So far we have a pic leak from Sony domestic on the new VG-30, looks like it has the new powered zoom lens (A) as the EA50 and a welcome zoom control (B) on the camera body. Sony are the only company to date to recognise the value of adding a zoom control rocker to  most of their large sensor camcorders.

Still no sign of an update to FCPX which is very stupid of Apple as they could have had it running during IBC, one of the best places to showcase NLE software.

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Viewfinders “The curse of the new camcorders”

Categories: Miscellaneous 7 Comments

Decent viewfinders were once part and parcel of the camcorder experience, mainly black and white as they gave you the best contrast ratio to allow decent focusing.

Today life is a bitch when it comes to viewfinders and the lack of thought that manufacturers give to their use, position and resolution.

The classic example of a useless viewfinder lies with the Sony PMW-F3, a classic large sensor camera with the sole intention of capturing TV drama in full HD yet the supplied viewfinder is appalling.

If you can’t be bothered to produce a VF fit for purpose then make sure the DP can buy a Hi Res alternative that fits on the camera and has all the correct connections, alternative VFs like the Zacuto are good but still need powered up and you need a small bag of Canon batteries to make sure you get a days use out of them.

Tim Bates from Germany “I come from an ENG background and have been spoilt for high quality broadcast viewfinders. For me the viewfinder is one of “the” most important components of the camera. The viewfinder is my window to the world. I find a quality viewfinder an immersive experience that can’t be achieved with an LCD and a t-shirt over my head. 
Very few seem to talk about this design fault- and even fewer complain.
Why is it that almost any video camera under $20,000 has a crap viewfinder? We know that quality viewfinders are available. Sony’s NEX 7 has one. Fuji make great viewfinders. My GH2’s viewfinder is usable.
When I read the specs for the C100 I could not believe that Canon are planning on using a 0.24 inch viewfinder in an $8,000 camera. My Canon Legria HFG10 has an 0.24″ viewfinder and I think it’s unusable. I realise that the C300 0.52 inch viewfinder is usable – but not great. At least they could put the C300’s viewfinder on the C100.
I also realise that most would simply say – okay lets just get a Zacuto EVF. That was the answer I got from the team that supposedly “helped” design the Sony FS100. Sorry but I find that answer really dumb. It’s like a car manufacturer building a car with an unusable steering wheel. Or placing the steering wheel in the back seat, then to say that most people are happy to spend another $1,000 on a proper steering wheel even if spoils the ergonomics and compactness of the original design.” 
It’s shocking how little attention is now made these days to the second most important feature on a camcorder, the viewfinder, and camera after camera falls off the production line, crippled by a poor viewfinder.
The new Sony NEX-EA50 is to date the only large sensor camcorder to have a decent viewfinder and one in the correct position and best of all it’s semi-pro !
DPs are forced to buy into the relatively expensive external viewfinder like the Cineroid, Zacuto EVF or the Alphatron when camera manufacturers are getting far too lazy and sloppy with camcorder designs these days.

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Ugly duckling to Swan in 40 years

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

This is the “look” we all associate with a Lada, a metal box on wheels, my sister had one of these cars and loved it, very basic but got you from “A” to “B”.

My friend Alexander is filming with his Canon C300 at the Moscow motor show, he finds the C300 excellent in low light conditions but a bit of a pain not having a servo zoom.

It’s the major downfall with most large sensor camcorders is the lack of a servo zoom making then very clumsy and limiting compared to an ENG camcorder, rigs like the Zacuto C300 Recoil help but lack of zoom control seriously limits your creativity. Sony are the only company to date to have addressed this issue putting a servo zoom on the PMW-F3 , NEX-FS700 and the new NEX-EA50, the 14x Sony zoom for the F3 the Sony SCL-Z18X140 (SCLZ18X140) 18-252mm / T3.8 is £7,680.

A lot of us are pinning our hopes on the Sony PMW-200 to fill this gaping hole, a camcorder that will be good in low light with it’s larger 1/2″ Exmor sensors and constant aperture 14x lens.

I hope to have my very own PMW-200 by the 14th of September where I will put it through it’s paces alongside the Canon C300, this will finally give me the best of both worlds.


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Camera menus for iPhone/iPad please

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The time has come when the big four need to supply their camcorder menus for iPhone/iPad download. Panasonic, Sony, JVC and Canon all use different menu systems and differing terms for the same thing, initialisation and formatting being one of them.

This is the Canon C300/XF305 menu system which is relatively easy to navigate.

This is the easiest of them all the Panasonic menu system especially the picture profile section which is double Dutch on Sony professional camcorders.

It’s simple, every so often I get a phone call from someone who needs some explanation on how to navigate their way through a menu system and it would be very easy if I could call up the “Sony” generic or specific menu system for the camcorder the person is talking about.


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Rick Young takes BlackMagics Cinema Camera out for a spin

Categories: Miscellaneous 6 Comments

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

Canon C100 v Sony FS700 “Is there a comparison ?”

Categories: Miscellaneous 8 Comments

With both camps having updated their Super 35mm cameras some would say Sony have upscaled while Canon have definitely downscaled but both at a similar price bracket.

With both cameras recording AVCHD the Sony has the edge with 28Mbps 1920 x 1080 50p while the Canon is only 24Mbps 1920 x 1080 50i.

Two features that the Sony has over the Canon is the 10x Full HD slow motion and the upgradable 2-4K sensor.

To be frank I think the C100 is £2K dearer than it should be to stand a chance against the FS700 but remember slow motion albeit 10x Full HD is a gimmick and to date no one has seen the 4K capable picture from the FS700.

If you are a C300 owner like myself a smaller C100 might just be a cracking B camera, not having an HD SDI socket is stupid and the C100 is 4:2:0 colour space might not be as punchy as the C300.

If you own Canon lenses the C100 would be the better choice plus the Canon is of a higher build quality than the plasticky FS700.

I actually like the thought of a smaller “C300” and depending on picture quality would be a far more practical camera for run and gun.

Q. If I had the choice between the FS700 and the C100

A. That will depend on picture quality, if the C100 almost matches the C300 and the familiarity of the two cameras would draw me towards the Canon. The FS700 has its own issues and one of them seems to be a compromise between the 2K and 4K chip set being a tad more noisy than the FS100. The 10x super slow motion would be useful but not essential.

My heart tells me the C100, my professional practical side tells me the FS700 but its all down to picture quality in the end, I personally have not seen the picture out of the FS700 nor the C100. Picture quality is upmost and is going to make or break the C100 for C300 owners !

Final word : I think Canon have underestimated the pulling power of the FS700 especially having the 10x slow motion feature, you can use your Canon glass on the FS100 using a Metabones adapter but the crucial mistake for me is the 4:2:0 colour space, even the XF305 has 4:2:2 and matching both cameras (C300/XF305) can be a pain so my bet is that the C100 won’t be as spectacular picture wise as the C300 which is a shame.

We all new Canon would bring out a watered down C300 at some stage and personally I do like the new look, especially the XLRs and taking the LCD off the top of the camera, we now have more large sensor cameras than I ever thought possible…is there a market for 9 competing cameras !


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