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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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”

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

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

New 50mm f0.95 with Leica M mount due out September 2012

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Hong Kong lens maker SLR Magic has announced the HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 lens for the Leica M mount. The lens, which can be easily adapted for Micro Four Thirds or Sony NEX cameras, is designed for low light and shallow depth-of-field videography and available-light photography. The lens features 12 elements in 7 groups and, the company says, is optimized to be shot with the aperture wide open. The lens won’t be available until September 2012.

Hong Kong, China (January 1, 2012)  – SLR Magic opens up the M mount lens lineup with the new SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 ultra fast normal focal length lens. The world’s fastest interchangeable camera lens with an image circle beyond full frame coverage in its focal length, the SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 concept lens will be publicly available for experience testing in September 2012 at Photokina in Cologne, Germany.

The field of view of this new HyperPrime Lens corresponds to a 50mm lens in 35mm format. It is optimized to be shot wide open. This ultra fast normal focal length prime lens opens up many new creative composition opportunities, particularly in the fields of available light, in portrait, and street cinematography. Built with modern non aspherical lens technology, the lens excels at defocusing busy backgrounds at T0.95. A minimum focus distance of 0.70m allows for artistic bokeh effect. A fast maximum aperture of T0.95 makes the SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 ideal for available-light photography.

Our highest priority in the development of all HyperPrime lenses is to fulfill the demands of professional cinematographers and photographers. The design and build of the SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 is solid and reliable.

The SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95, a concept lens, will be available from authorized SLR Magic dealers by the end of September 2012.

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

A Happy New Year 2012 to you all !

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I hope 2012 is a better year for all of us especially for our friends in Japan, so lets sit back and welcome the New Year and hope for some stunning camcorders during 2012 plus the odd firmware update for FS100, NX70 and FCP-10.

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

The late Kevin O’Malley of JVC Professional

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Such sad news, Kevin passed away in his sleep last Wednesday evening (28th December 2011) and leaves his loving wife and two very loving daughters.

I must have known Kevin for over 20 years and what a character, full of life and a good joke or two. Kevin worked for Sony Broadcast for many years before moving over to JVC Professional.

Kevin was a man who knew his cameras and was liked by all who met him in the video industry, he will be sadly missed.

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

3 Products of 2011

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I have decided this year to give three products I personally bought a special mention for their usefulness and good design qualities.

Firstly I will start off with the Manfrotto 24 LED light that I picked up for £69 in my local Jessop store, it takes two AAA batteries and has a dimmer. There is nothing fancy about this light other than its extreme portability and usefulness on corporate shoots.

This wee light is carried about in your pocket and can be a God send if you need a small bit of fill light as happened to me on a shoot only last week. On two occasions I had a need to light peoples faces and this wee chap was just the trick.

Its well made for its size 70mm x 55mm and comes with a removable cold shoe.

My second useful product was the Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro, this has been invaluable in many ways over the last 4 months. Picture quality is nothing short of fantastic and with firmware updates you can now see your sound levels coming out of your camera.

I used it recently when I shot a two camera demonstration of manual handling and I took a 5 meter HDMI output from my second Sony NX70 and sat the viewfinder next to my NX70 so I could monitor my sons output as he is in training.

The other thing its great for is monitoring high shots especially using the Sony FS100 as the LCD design is shockingly bad for use in high shots.

It was not cheap at $1000 but is the best of its kind to date and built like a tank.

Recently I purchased another tripod an ACE from Sachtler, I saw this at IBC 2011 and was very impressed with its overall build quality Sachtler have finally learned that not everyone can afford their £2-3K tripods and to be frank those tripods are not fit to use with a Sony NX70.

As you can guess the NX70 needed a tripod and at just over £500 the ACE with mid spreader fitted the bill. Sachtler have made a fine job with their first budget tripod and amazingly its very usable with its basic drag and tilt system.

So there you have it three tools that I have been impressed with during 2011 more often than not for their simplicity in use and size, the LED light just ticks all my boxes for filler shots, the Zacuto EVF Pro not only looks good but outperforms itself with such an accurate LCD screen and the Sachtler ACE is the right tripod for smaller camcorders like the Sony NX70 and at just over £500 performs better than a lot of tripods twice its price.

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

The Last Burning Embers of 2011

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2011 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, a giant earthquake near Japan causing untold death and disruption to the Japanese lifestyle, then to compound things even further floods in Indonesia later on the same year caused many video and photographic products to cease production causing a worldwide shortage of cameras, lenses and media in general.

A worldwide recession didn’t help matters alongside banks not lending money for small businesses and the worst year to date for refused credit loans has hit many people looking to upgrade to new equipment.

On the other hand despite the terrible tsunami that befell Japan they still managed to their credit to export 14 new camcorders over the last twelve months so what can we expect during 2012.

Looking into my crystal ball I predict the following…

1. Panasonic : I think they will bring out a fully featured AF301 mFT camera with 10bit processing, 4:2:2 and AVC Ultra, the collective name given to Panasonic’s group of professional AVC based codecs, represents a single workflow destination for professional users working at many levels in the production cycle. As a unified, seamless group of codecs based on the H.264 standard, AVC Ultra offers enhanced flexibility for both high-end and mainstream production through its support for a wide range of data-rates from low to high quality.

2. Sony : I predict a NX7 camcorder with interchangeable lenses, 50MB/s, 4:2:2 and once again 10bit. This camera may take on the SxS media and be a direct competitor to the Panasonic HPX250 and Canons XF305. I also predict a hybrid of the F3 and the FS100 finally giving us neutral density filters and 50MB/s.

3. Canon : Will bring out their “C” DSLR dedicated to those of you who prefer the size and style of shooting the DSLR gives you. We may also see a C150 cut down C300 at the tail end of the year running at 35MB/s and XLRs built onto the camera itself.

Will we see 14 camcorders during 2012 if you want my opinion I doubt it. JVC are hoping to give us a 4K camera the size of their 150 with 4 SDHC cards but like a lot of JVCs ideas and formats its a non starter, as someone told me at IBC 2011 “what happens if one of the 4 cards gets corrupted”.

Alister Chapman predicts the demise of the shoulder mount camcorder and if you look at last years trend not one new shoulder mount camera was produced, the world of digital cinematography is downsizing, like it or not.

Canon need to get their finger out and produce a 10 bit C300 camcorder for as sure as night turns to day Sony and Panasonic are hard on their heals, 2012 will be the year of the 10bit camcorder as the 2011 Panasonic P2 HPX250 is only the start.

Many pundits are now questioning Canons decision to bring out such a relatively expensive 8 bit Super 35mm camcorder during a world wide recession when many companies are now pulling their belts in and making do with their 2 year old camcorder.

Blogging like this site  does not help matters as I love to talk new technology but if I didn’t do it someone else would. You will always get an honest opinion from HD Warrior with over 25 years in the video production business we have a lot to offer and it all comes free with NO PAID advertising, thats the one fact I am very proud of not having paid adverts as once you start getting commission from adverts your opinion on that product is never as honest and thats a fact…my blog is not here to make me money.

While we are talking about blogging how about you lads and lassies sending me your thoughts on a video camera that you bought during 2011…User reviews always go down well so why not send me an email to and have a Happy New Year when it comes.

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

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