Canon C300 unbeatable price £8899 plus vat at H Preston Media

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NOTE : Body only lens not included.

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Camcorder Design PART TWO “The crux of the matter”

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There is a level of confusion when it comes to cinematic camcorders and it’s maybe this “confusion” that is causing our boys and girls in Japan to keep releasing the wrong spec camcorders.

My good friend Frank Glencairn made a very valid point…“But I think there is an obsession going on to have a “one-does-it-all-self-contained” camera. Something that swapped over from the DSLR guys. Have you ever heard of a film camera that comes with a battery or build in ND filters? If you coming from film, those things don’t bother you. If you come from shooting video with photo cameras or ENG work, it’s a different game. Now all that mixes up and everyone has different wishes. That’s why I think, a super modular camera – think of a box with user-swappable sensors, and other boxes with other functions that attach to it (yes a bit like RED, but more sophisticated)plus an open software/firmware – that’s the future. At least I wish it would be the future. Build a camera to your need, money, budget, and job. That would be cool.”

Frank is a very technical, practical chap and what he cant afford he builds himself but Frank is the exception to that rule most of us “put up” with what we are given and have a work around to compensate.

We are stuck in the past when it comes to cinematic camera design with some orphans of the present for good measure, let me explain. We look to what was done in the past like the cine camera as Frank quite rightly pointed out it had no ND filters, thats because a lot of cine cameras needed a lot of light in the first place plus screw on ND filter sets were all the rage.

Most cine cameras had a choice of 18 or 24 frames per second and it was only in the early seventies that Super 8mm film came with a magnetic sound stripe, professional recordings were very complicated with a 16mm Bolex sending a signal via a cable to a sound recorder called a Nagra, a 1/4″ tape was used and the pulse from the camera was recorded on a separate track in order to sync the pictures and sound at the edit stage.

“Just because it did not happen in the past does not mean it cant happen in the future”…Take servo zoom lenses the new Sony EA50 is the first large sensor camcorder to appear with a powered zoom as standard and thats a big bonus for camera operators who have been used to a zoom lens. Professional Cinematic cameras in the past did not have powered zooms simply because the glass was not good enough and the servo would take too much power.

16mm cameras were usually a strange shape to accommodate the 16mm film magazine, something that’s not an issue with todays cameras.

Getting back to today, we have come through a phase using DSLRs in order to get a shallow depth of field once again the size of the DSLR should not have any bearing as to the size of a cinematic video camera. Sony made this mistake with the FS100, trying to emulate the compactness of the DSLR while trying to make the camera perform like a video camera.

Forget the past…forget the DSLR, concentrate on traditional camcorder designs, ARRI are taking the cinematic world by storm producing a camera fit for purpose, cameramen/women like the design, all the correct buttons, switches and connectors, frame rates to die for as well as 4:4:4 12bit processing.

The Alexa is only an example for me it’s too dear and far to heavy but Sony, Panasonic and Canon should take stock of the Alexa and stop trying to produce cameras that are far too small with cramped small buttons, viewfinders in the wrong place, 8 bit processing and give us cinematic cameras we can be proud of.

Sony…They have the F65 granted but for smaller budget TV drama the F3 with 50Mbps would be far more useful.

Panasonic…The AF101 is tired in comparison with the competition, lower resolution and needs a decent Hi Rez viewfinder, 10bit processing would also be an improvement.

Canon…The C300/C500 suffer the same fate by having the XLRs on that stupid control panel, please make sure V2 of the 300/500 is bigger to allow XLRs and controls onto the body itself and please include a 3 position Gain and WB switches please, 10 bit processing on the 300 would also be an improvement as would 1080 50p.

 

So lets stop trying to copy the past, more cinematic cameras with at least the ability to have a servo zoom like the new NEX-EA50, I must point out that the PMW-F3 has had an on board zoom control since day one and Sony did bring out a zoom lens for the camera.

Lets get away from small cameras for the sake of it, all you do by constricting a cameras size is buttons get smaller and the camera becomes a fiddle to work with, most professional cameramen /women by-passed the DSLR phase, size does matter, make the cameras slightly bigger to give us full manual controls on the body and in Canons sake the XLRs on the body of the C300 !

Get away from this ridiculous compulsion for “various” models of the same camera, bring out a camera fit for purpose, the F3 would benefit greatly by having 50Mbps and a decent viewfinder, stop this rot of making cameras that fall short of what the end user needs.

As a breed camera people don’t like add ons like external recorders it’s one more link in the chain to go wrong !

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

MovieMachine.tv from Rick Young

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Rick Young is back bigger and better with his new web site www.moviemachine.tv

Rick a cameraman who loves everything Sony uses an F3, EX3 and two EX1r’s in his exploits around the world, hosts UKFCUG (UK Final Cut Users Group) is just finishing off a book all about editing with FCPX, he will be sending me a copy to review.

Take a look at his new web site just launched this week (see link above).

 

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

Camcorder Design PART ONE “Where do they get their ideas from”

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Before I start on my soap box can I just start by saying that I have not spoken to any camcorder designers in the making of this blog.

So to the burning question “Who decides on the specifications of a camera while its on the drawing board” ?  Its become patently obvious over the last year or so that those who design camcorders are not the same people who use or need them !

Lets have a look at Sony’s four large sensor camcorders to appear over the last fifteen months or so…

Here is the best of the bunch, the Sony PMW-F3 in action, now this camera is superb in low light, produces fantastic pictures but has two immediate failings…it only shoots 35Mbps onto SxS cards and the viewfinder is appalling.

WHO designed the F3, why was the decision taken to run the camera at HD news resolution (35Mbps) when the camera was clearly designed to take over from the likes of the 750 with 35mm adapter. This camera would have sold twice the amount had it produced 50Mbps from day one.

Secondly WHO designes a £15K camcorder with such an appalling viewfinder, forcing every camera operator to spend a further 1-2K on an external viewfinder like a Zacuto EVF or the Alphatron EVF.

This camera came out just over a year ago and still no sign of a 50Mbps model, anyone who uses the current camera in HD television production is forced to use an external HD recorder in order to achieve full HD TV specification which is why Sony have lost a ton of sales to the Canon C300 which I may add is far from perfect but does cut the 50Mbps mustard.

Den Lennie and Alister Chapman are the only two cameramen I know who have been in a pre production meeting with Sony engineers and the outcome was the NEX-FS100 which came out just under a year ago.

Even with two very accomplished cameramen giving Sony their ideas, they still managed to get it wrong…again…No ND filters, a compromised viewfinder/LCD design, no HD-SDI socket and only one media slot.

The FS100 which I personally owned for six months was a very good camera with an excellent quiet picture and a cinematic look to die for but you had to work twice as hard to get those dreamlike pictures with vari filters and external EVFs.

Den Lennie seen above loves his FS100 so much so that he compares it to a 16mm Bolex cinematic camera, “It’s the Bolex of today”.

My good friend Frank Glencairn filming with the FS700 the son of the FS100, this has to one of Sony’s best kept secrets but a strange move to update the FS100 in less than 8 months.

Sony by this time are haemorrhaging sales to the Canon C300 and need to bring out a stop gap camera hence the 250 frames per second super slow mo full HD FS700 with a 4K firmware updatable chip set.

Once again no dual media slot and a compromised viewfinder/LCD, as you can see above Frank does not even use the FS700s LCD.

Never seen a FS700 in the flesh so I can’t comment on picture quality but I have it in authority that its slightly noisier than the FS100 due to the 4K chip.

Here we have Sony’s large sensor (LS) camera number four the new NEX-EA50, finally a camera that looks like a traditional camcorder, this camera isn’t due till November 2012 but it is the first LS camcorder with a servo zoom “E” mount lens…fantastic.

A viewfinder/LCD that is in the correct position…fantastic.

Semi shoulder mount, dual XLR inputs, picture profiles, gain switch but Sony decide to down scale the chip from the preferred Super 35mm (FS100/700) to the APS-C as featured on the domestic Sony VG-20. We all know the EA50 is not aimed at the top end but it would it not be better to have as many sales as possible than restrict it to the event side of the business.

Sony also decide to omit ND filters which has been proven by many a cameraman/woman to be almost critical in achieving a shallow depth of field in bright filming conditions.

You see my dilemma, Sony for some reason keep compromising their large sensor cameras when they now have plenty of feedback from blogs like this who keep telling them where they are going wrong.

Why produce a camera like the EA50 and compromise it with an known sensor that produces moire patterning and worst of all totally ignore the professional video community by leaving off ND filters, yet again !

Sony are more than capable with cracking camcorders like the very popular PMW-500, the defacto HD camcorder for HD television documentary work running at the magical 50Mbps, this camera was produced on the back of the ever popular PMW-350 which I owned and loved.

So why on earth are we getting a string of LS camcorders that never reach the perfect PMW-500 Gold Standard, only Sony know this one, but you can be assured that we will see a 50Mbps F3 sometime soon and hopefully with a Hi-Rez viewfinder that swivels up and down as seen on the EA50.

Panasonic (AF101) and Canon (C300) are not much better but as Sony seem to be on a large sensor roll they are the easiest of all three companies to compare with the fourth model on its way.

So if you are a large sensor camcorder designer who just happens to live in Japan…stop producing cameras that just fall short of perfect, all you do is compromise your manufacturers ability to make plenty of Yen or worse still, hand over plenty of Yen to a competitor !…listen to us…the people who use your design !!!

Professional people need professional tools to work with lets turn it on it’s head…I have now been appointed as the new IT specialist for Sony camera design, so lets start with a 14″ SVG display panel for all your CAD work and a PC with 2G ram, a basic graphics card with 50GB of hard drive space…now you start to see how constricting our side of the fence is when it comes to LS video cameras.

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

Sony NEX-EA50 “First Look”

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Another large sensor camera from Sony in fact it’s the 3rd NEX camcorder with a style more like a video camera and less like a square squat box.

I really like this design, especially the positioning of the viewfinder, for once we get a large sensor camera that’s not built to look like a DSLR, in fact with a servo zoom lens and semi shoulder mount it’s getting back to a look and ergonomics that “true” professional cameramen/women prefer.

Does it have any ND filters well the official line from Sony is “zero so far” and what about -3, -6dB, Sony’s reply “zero so far”!

I tried all day Friday to get an answer to this burning question but from looking at the camera from 3 sides it looks like no ND filters !

I just do not understand Sony they swing from one end of the design spectrum to the other, they were slated for designing the FS100 with no ND filters and eventually update that camera with the FS700, now we get the EA50 and the same old story…no ND filters to be seen which is a critical design flaw in a shallow depth of field camcorder.

The APS-C (23.6 x 15.8) CMOS chip is the same one used in the VG20 and the VG10, I did an early review of the VG10 which was never finished but the picture quality was stunning and had a creamy shallow depth of field (SDoF). The downside to the VG10 was it’s moire patterning which showed itself on filming tiles on the roof of a shopping centre so don’t expect the EA50 to be free from some aliasing.

Included : Sound will be LPCM or AC3, PAL & NTSC switchable, 16MP still image, various choices of media with one slot plus the 128G FMU module, picture profiles, Colour bars, 6 assign buttons, same 921K LCD as the FS100, Simultaneous record, GPS function and HDMI.

Not got : Slow & quick record, Smooth slow record, 2nd media slot, ND filters, HD SDI socket.

The EA50 will record at 1080 50p, 50i and 25p with NTSC 1080 59.94p, 59.94i, 29.97p and 23.98p. 720 50p and 59.94p and SD on 576/480 50i and 59.94i.

Sony’s argument will be “value for money” it’s still far better specified than an APS-C DSLR and pulls in the same image quality with interchangeable lenses and XLR sound feeds.

Finally having a powered zoom is a great addition for a large sensor camera and this lens 18-200mm will work on an FS100/700 as the lens also has a zoom lever and speed control on the lens itself.

Sony don’t give up when it comes to exploiting their own “Memory Stick” and this time round we are getting “mirroring” which means you can record the same footage twice onto the one card giving you a backup on the one card, very clever but at what cost.

Memory stick (MS) was a Sony invention but soon lost favour to the far cheaper SDHC cards and Sony themselves conceded three years ago by introducing a dual media slot that takes MS and SDHC, without this dramatic turn around Sony would have lost major sales and may have even gone out of business.

If Sony want to sell this new XC HG Duo it better come at a comparable price to SDHC cards but the line will be it’s two for the price of one.

My take is you get what you pay for, this camera is an entry level large sensor camcorder clearly aimed at the event market, wedding videographers will be especially keen to see this camera. Sony Professional are trying too hard to please “everyone” these days, we now have four large sensor camcorders from the EA50 to the F3 and every single large sensor camera due to bad design and lack of thought for the end user is flawed…but then again their competitors are not much better.
The Sony NEX EA50 will have it’s fans, a growing pre order list proves that, the servo assisted zoom is much needed and will certainly help sales, the camera body design is also much better and is more what camera operators are comfortable with, lack of ND is questionable but with a good vari ND filter this camera will produce fantastic SDoF pictures.

This camera will find its way into weddings, corporate, education and low budget documentary work without a doubt and if Sony have any sense take version two of the EA50 up a grade with ND and Super 35mm chip.

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

The NEW Sony NEX-EA50 (£3000)

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Sony is pleased to unveil the latest addition to the professional NXCAM range of camcorders, the NEX-EA50EH. This versatile new camcorder offers the ultimate flexibility in lens selection thanks to its interchangeable E-mount lens system.

The large format Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor gives the user creative freedom when shooting Full HD movies and high-quality still photos. The new form factor enables users to shoot in a way that suits them best, allowing them to switch quickly between handheld and shoulder configuration without the need for additional accessories.

“This all-in-one camcorder brings a new level of creativity to a wider range of professional users than ever before,” said Bill Drummond, Sony Europe. “It combines affordability and high performance with a range of versatile, professional features for many applications, including event production, budget movie making and corporate production.”

The Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor produces high quality, creative images with low noise and high sensitivity in low light conditions. It also enables 1080 progressive and interlace recording with 60/50Hz selection (50p/25p/50i or 60p/30p/24p/60i)*.

By capturing 16.1 megapixel still pictures with RAW format support, the camcorder offers higher picture quality and rich post-processing capabilities. In addition, the NEX-EA50EH has a built-in mechanical shutter to eliminate shutter-induced blur during long exposures while capturing still pictures.

The NEX-EA50EH incorporates the Sony E-mount interchangeable lens system, which enables auto focus, auto exposure and stabilisation during shooting. With its short flange back distance, it is possible to attach both established A-mount lenses via the LA-EA2 lens mount adapter, and an unrivalled choice of other brands lenses using third-party adapters.

 

The unique design of the NEX-EA50EH further adds to the camcorders versatility. When the shoulder pad is extended, the camcorder can be balanced on the shoulder giving added stability for longer shooting times. Alternatively, when the shoulder pad is returned to the original position, the camcorder becomes compact enough to use in various handheld styles allowing users to capture a wide variety of shots.

The NEX-EA50EH camcorder comes with the newly developed Power Zoom E-mount lens E PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS SELP18200. It features auto focus, continuous variable iris and Optical Steady Shot image stabilisation with Active Mode, making it ideal for shooting moving images. It is electronically controlled by both the zoom rocker lever on the camcorder grip and top handle. Film-makers can achieve a constant zoom speed and smooth, slow zoom, both of which can be difficult to accomplish with manual zoom lenses. In addition, using fixed focal length lenses users can simulate a zoom effect using the smart digital zoom function, ensuring fast-paced shots are never missed.

The NEX-EA50EH features a range of professional functions usually associated with NXCAM camcorders, such as 2-channel XLR audio (the ECM-XM1 Shotgun microphone is included with the NEX-EA50H), Linear PCM audio, time code, user bit and built-in GPS.

 

In addition, Sony’s HXR-FMU128 flash memory unit can dock directly to the camcorder for recording an immediate backup. The camcorder is compatible with the new Mirroring Memory Stick (MS-PX64/32/16) which is the world’s first memory card featuring a “Mirroring” function. This enables the card to deliver high reliability and data security through a dual recording (mirroring) function. This new professional memory card will be available in 3 different capacities: 16GB; 32GB and 64GB.

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

Sony’s NEW baby arrives at 8am today

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

New Panasonic AG-AC90 (September 2012)

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29.8mm Wide-Angle / High powered Zoom Lens
The high-powered 12x zoom lens includes a 29.8 mm (35 mm equivalent) wide-angle setting. When using the Intelligent 25x digital zoom, it achieves up to 25x seamless zooming. In addition, it also features 2x, 5x and 10x digital zoom function. Panasonic’s unique Nano Surface Coating minimizes ghosts and flaring, and a high speed, F1.5 brightness enables extremely clear image rendering. The built-in 5-axis Hybrid OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) ensures stable handheld shooting.

High-Sensitivity BSI Type 3MOS Sensors
Three (RGB) backside illumination corresponding 1/4.7 type MOS image sensors have an effective pixel count of 2,190,000 pixels. This makes it possible to capture excellent images with high definition and superb color reproduction even in dimly lit locations. The image processing circuit, which is tuned for professional use, produces highly natural gradation and sharp detail.

Easy Operation with Triple Manual Rings and a High-Definition LCD monitor
The lens barrel is equipped with manual rings for focus, zoom and iris operation to enable the kind of speedy, intuitive camera work that is generally associated with interchangeable lenses. The 8.89 cm (3.5 inches) LCD monitor (touch panel), which stores easily inside the top front part of the handle, has approximately 1,150,000 dot resolution to enhance focusing, and includes focus assist, zebra, and color bar display functions. The LCD monitor rotates 270 degrees for easy low-angle, high-angle, and self-interview shootings.

High-Quality Recording with AVCHD PS/PH Modes
•Professional AVCHD Modes: PS mode for Full-HD (1920 x 1080) and progressive (60p) image acquisition and high quality PH mode.
•HD/SD Multi-Formats: 
[60 Hz model]: 1080/60p, 60i, 30p, 24p, 480/60i.
[50 Hz model]: 1080/50p, 50i, 25p, 576/50i.
•Dual SD Card Slots (support SDXC/SDHC/SD Memory Cards). With two SD cards, a camera operator can select backup recording.
•Still shots with 3-megapixel resolution. (Still shots can also be captured during video recording.)

Specifications Supporting Professional Use
•2 channel XLR audio inputs (MIC/LINE/+48V selectable).
•Audio CH1/CH2 with individual level controls and input selection.
•HDMI output, AV Multi output (D-connector, composite video and audio 2 channel), USB connector.
•Remote terminals enable remote operation of iris, focus, zoom and Rec Start/Stop functions.
•The upper part of the handle grip contains both the Rec Start/Stop button and a zoom speed control (three speed steps) for the lens.

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

Buying a Sony PMW-200 (Updated)

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There are a few things that you need to weigh up if you are buying one of the new Sony PMW-200s.

Firstly you will need to decide on the type of media you are going to use with the PMW-200, SxS card, XQD card, SDHC card or external recorder.

Please remember that the PMW-EX30 SxS player/recorder will not playback footage shot at 50Mbps so in order to get your 4:2:2 50Mbps footage into your computer you will need a Sony SBAC-US10 SxS card reader (£318) or the Sonnett QIO-E34 (£797) or the camera itself.

Shooting 50Mbps constant bit rate (CBR) you will be restricted to two types of card, the SxS or the XQD card with adapter.

A 32G SxS card will cost you £360 while an XQD card will set you back £170 plus £50 for the adapter.

No one has tested the durability of the XQD card yet but spec wise its up there with the best CF cards that we use in the likes of the Canon C300.

Sony would have been very nieve not to offer us a cheaper alternative to the SxS card as the track record proves that very few of us ever bought SxS cards while using EX1s and EX3s.

The XQD is the PMW-200s saving grace when it comes to 50Mbps and I can only predict an upsurge of XQD card sales this coming Autumn.

It has been pointed out that Sony advise using the XQD card for emergencies only at 50MB/s but the card is more that capable at 125MB/s that’s almost twice the speed of a 600x Lexar CF card, so who’s kidding who !

XQD cards are still 2x dearer than 32G top of the range CF cards so Mr Sony better be kidding if he thinks the XQD card is not up to scratch when Mr Canon runs his 50MB/s C300 CF cards at half the cost and half the speed !

The Sony MRW-E80 XQD card reader is only £35 and is readily available from good Sony stockists.

If you don’t need the 50Mbps you can stick with the 35Mbps variable bit rate (VBR) which uses the lesser SDHC cards with adapter.

This has long been the preferred method of capturing good 35Mbps footage from the EX range of camcorders, the Sony adapter will set you back £70 while the MxM card adapter will set you back about £45.

As you can see there are many options for capturing footage on your Sony PMW-200 not to mention the external recorder out of the HD-SDI socket or the HDMI socket.

Sony have hit a nerve with this spec of camera, there are a lot of pre orders not to mention a lot of interest in general now that Sony have realised the market for a 50Mbps, 3 chip, 1/2″ CMOS sensor camera like the PMW-200.

 

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

Philip Bloom and Team GB

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Philip Bloom was hired by Adidas UK to produce a viral internet video and looking at breakfast TV this morning viral it has gone.

Philip used 2 crews both filming with Canon C300s.

Philip Bloom “Before I head off to LA to shoot a short fiction film next week, this was supposed to be my editing week, working on Olly Knights from Turin Brakes’ Documentary  and cutting the music video we shot on Tuesday for his debut solo single “If Not Now When” on the 1DX  (couple of frame grabs above) when a job I couldn’t turn down popped up….make a viral video for Adidas UK with lots of the medal winners from Team GB miming to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”The concept was born out of the amazing performance of Team GB during the 2012 Olympics, and I was hired on Thursday evening with the shoot scheduled for Friday/ Saturday and a Sunday morning delivery – very full on! Adidas UK secured the rights to the song from the band, and all we had to do was make it!”

You can read the rest here…

http://philipbloom.net/2012/08/12/teamgb/

adidas | Team GB Don’t Stop Me Now from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

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