4 Large sensor cameras…”Where Now”

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April the 14th 2012…NAB holds a few well kept secrets from at least 2 major camera manufacturers…Sony and Panasonic.

The world of video filming has gone large sensor within the last year and with four camcorders in the space of twelve months we have been spoiled.

The biggest upset to the friendly pack has been the Canon EOS C300, here we have the first camera to tick almost all the boxes…dedicated Canon EF lens mount, 4:2:2, 50Mbps and 3 ND filters….the first large sensor camera to be approved by the BBC without needing an external recorder.

Sony were bold but nieve to bring out the PMW- F3 at 35Mbps when it had been reported that Canon would bring out a 50Mbps camera within the year and sadly that prediction has come home to haunt Sony.

We are now getting the $4000 SLOG upgrade free with all new F3s in a major fight back to claim sales from the C300 but limping along with 35Mbps does not help the F3 in any shape or form whatsoever.

The Sony FS100 has had a lot of help recently with Sony comissioning films by Philip Bloom and articles from Den Lennie making references like “is it the new Bolex” and having used the camera for six months myself you get used to working around the lack of ND filters…almost.

My first camera at the beginning of last year was the Panasonic AF101 and of all the cameras less the C300 it has a lot going for it, especially the large range of micro four third lenses and adapters the 25mm f0.95 Nokton being my favourite at the time.

So what made me change three times within 12 months…?

1. Panasonic AF101…I got an F3 to road test and beside the AF101 the resolution was far greater on the F3 and far better low light capability so it was a no brainor when the Sony FS100 came along and out performed the AF101 in resolution alone.

2. The Sony was a work around camera compared to the AF101, the lack of ND was a shocking lack of thought by Sony engineers who forgot how much light the Super 35mm sensor actually soaked in. The build quality of the so called carry handle left a lot to be desired and no second card slot was another engineering let down. The FS100 was the lesser of Sonys Super 35mm cameras and it showed.

Why did I not go for a PMW-F3…?

Simple, 35Mbps is not that appealing when you have already had an EX1, EX3 and a PMW-350, knowing that you are stuck with that quality at that price point was not appealing to me. The PL mount was also a draw back as my budget would never allow me to buy such lenses. Lastly the other option at that time was Nikon and I was growing tired of Nikons anti clockwise focusing.

Beyond the Canon EOS 300 EF…

Just over a month before NAB and the pressure is on both Panasonic and Sony to make a dent in Canons superior marketing decision to make three cameras 50Mbps broadcast spec the EX100, 300 range and the latest C300 camera.

Canon are giving the broadcast HD market a run for its money and in these days of tight purses its not surprising that there has been such a take up of XF305s, not everyones cup of tea but at just over £6000, meets more bean counters budgets than one Sony PMW-500 at £20,000 plus lens.

Both Panasonic and Sony need to plug the £6-10K gap, Panasonic has rallied with the HPX-250 P2 camcorder at £4K but the cost of the P2 media is still a major drawback in the broadcast market.

Sony have one chance this year to re-capture some sales from Canon but they need to desperately change their ethos by stop producing cameras that almost make the mark, Canon have proved this with the last 3 cameras so Sony need to cut into the sub prime £6-10K market with a large sensor or a hand held fit for HD broadcast without the need for an add-on recorder.

Canon do not have Sony or Panasonic’s baggage by affecting “what came before” in other words Sony’s perception is not to affect sales of the F3 or 500 but that thinking has to stop if they want to encourage sales back from Canon.

How many times have we as cameramen and women stood looking at a camera at a video show and thinking “wow…but if only it had…!” thats the thinking when you look over the AF101, FS100 and PMW-F3, they are all great cameras spoiled by future development and improvements, this “next years model” thinking, has been around for over 20 years now and Canon hopefully will put a stop to this by producing cameras fit for todays HD broadcast filming and constrained budgets.

I know cameramen who hate the XF305 with a passion but those same cameramen have grown up with shoulder mounts and ENG lenses and as time moves on will become a minority, I was converted over to hand held cameras during the mid 90s when miniDV was born and have been a fan ever since.

Even the shoulder mount stalwart Alister Chapman has gone public saying that he thinks shoulder mounts have had their day, so whatever Sony or Panasonic have up their sleeve at NAB lets hope we are not saying “If only”.

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

1970s the BBC were producing camera demos in-house !

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments

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

Canon G1X “Does it live up to its hype ?”

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This is my second toe in the water buying a large sensor compact camera the first was the Fuji X100 which was sent back after 3 days !

Not everything that’s new and has the word Canon written on it is up to scratch, take the new Canon G1X it has an 18.7 x 14mm CMOS sensor and by all accounts has an ISO to die for. I have been putting my new baby through his paces.

My first finding is when you are in manual mode, you get to change the speed with the front dial and the iris with the back thumbwheel as shown. What a poor decision that’s been…if you are not careful you start changing all sorts of menus and there is no way to isolate the thumbwheel to just change the iris.

The lens is a 15.1-60.4mm f2.8-5.8 (35mm = 28-112mm) which is fairly reasonable though I would have preferred a 24mm f1.8 wide lens. I can’t understand why companies like Canon insist on producing compact cameras at this level of sophistication to let themselves down with glass that goes from f2.8 to a poor f5.8 making tight shots almost useless in low light.

A constant f2.8 lens would be dearer but far more preferable.


Stunning is the only words to describe some of the pictures coming out of the G1X, this is my friends dog, Molly, and due to the very useful swivel LCD low angle shots like this are a breeze. Its not all good news the closest focusing is very poor at 20cm and thats in macro mode and 85cm at the telephoto end !

Conclusion :

The Canon G1X is far from perfect in fact it seems to share the same erratic focusing problems that the Fuji X100 had, the ISO is usable up to about 1250 with a push to 1600.

As a clear example ISO 6400 is very fluffy and to all intent purposes not usable on a daily basis, so stick to the rules, low light at f2.8 ISO 1600 max keeping the lens wide (f2.8).

These are the kind of “reportage” shots you can pull off with the G1X in natural lighting at night round a dinner table.

There is no doubt about it these large sensor compacts can produce stunning pictures but you have to work hard to get them, the last thing I want with a point and shoot is a tripod.

Don’t look for any kind of shallow depth of field with this camera even at f2.8 once again disappointing.

I would rate this camera 7 out of 10 and hope Canon can take this technology forward and develop this into a fantastic reportage compact camera sometime in the future.


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Canon G1X User Review coming soon

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

The New Canon 5D Mk111 £3000 end of March

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Next generation EOS Movies

The EOS 5D Mark III builds on the reputation of the EOS 5D Mark II, with a range of new features introduced following feedback received from photographers to provide even better Full HD video performance. As well as offering the depth-of-field control loved by video professionals, the new full-frame sensor combines with the vast processing power of DIGIC 5+ to improve image quality by virtually eradicating the presence of moiré, false colour and other artefacts. The addition of a movie mode switch and a recording button also offers greater usability, enabling videographers to begin shooting immediately when movie mode is engaged.

Additional movie functions include manual exposure control and an enhanced range of high bit-rate video compression options, with intraframe (ALL-I) and interframe (IPB)

methods both supported. Variable frame rates range from 24fps to 60fps, and the addition of SMPTE timecode support provides greater editing flexibility and easier integration into multi-camera shoots. Users can also check and adjust audio during recording via the camera’s Quick Control screen and a headphone socket enables sound level monitoring both during and after shooting. Enhanced processing power provided by DIGIC 5+ also makes it possible to conveniently trim the length of recorded movies in-camera.

Professional build, easy operation

The EOS 5D Mark III has been built to offer photographers easy-handling and robust build quality. Its lightweight, high-grade magnesium body offers advanced weather proofing for protection against the elements, while the construction of the shutter has also been reinforced, with 150,000-cycle durability making it ideal for repeated, everyday use. An enhanced version of the Intelligent Viewfinder featured in the EOS 7D offers approximately 100% coverage, as well as an on-demand grid display via the built- in transparent LCD.

The same reinforced 8.11cm (3.2”) Clear View II LCD screen as used by the EOS-1D X provides high quality framing and playback in all conditions. 1,040k-pixels provide the resolution to accurately check image sharpness and focus, while the gapless structure design introduced with the EOS-1D Mark IV prevents reflections and protects against dust or scratches. A headphone socket and locking mode dial have been included, while the inclusion of a UDMA 7-compatible CF card slot plus an SD card2 slot enables shooting to both cards simultaneously, auto switching when the one in use becomes full and the option to copy images from one card to the other in-camera.

Digital Lens Optimizer – new in Digital Photo Professional v3.11

The EOS 5D Mark III comes complete with the most advanced version of Digital Photo Professional (DPP) yet – Canon’s free, in-box software enabling high-speed, high quality processing of RAW images. New in DPP v3.11 is Digital Lens Optimizer – a revolutionary new tool designed to drastically improve image resolution.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III – Key features:

  • 22.3 Megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 61-point autofocus
  • Up to 6fps continuous shooting
  • Native ISO 100-25,600 sensitivity
  • Full HD video with manual control
  • 14-bit DIGIC 5+ processor
  • Enhanced Weather sealing
  • 8.11cm (3.2-inch) 1,040,000-dot screen
  • HDR mode with presetsPricing and Availability:  The EOS 5D Mark III will be available from end of March 2012, priced at £2999.99 / €3569.99 RRP including VAT.

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

Metabones EOS Smart adapter giving you Canon EF to Sony E mount $400

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Review of the Metabones EOS Smart Adapter. from Bryant Naro on Vimeo.

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Canon C300 cold shoe “PIN” a word of warning !

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Today was my Canon C300’s first day earning her keep, filming in a bottling factory. She was a joy to use and if the old daylight got a bit hot all I had to do was flip in 2 stops of ND.

After the filming I was de-rigging the camera when I had a problem taking the monitor off the cold shoe, after a bit of brain scratching I discovered that Canon had built in a nice safety feature into the monitor itself.

Basically as you screw the monitor down onto the cold shoe it deploys a pin to make sure the monitor cannot accidentally fall off the hand grip which is a great feature as long as you are aware of it. To unscrew the monitor you need to turn it CLOCKWISE.

I realise its not rocket science but this wee gem of information may prevent one of you trying to force your monitor off the handle thinking as I did that it had become stuck. Fortunately I had time to decipher the problem as it was at the end of the shoot but a timely warning never to force anything out of its holder.

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Testing the Canon WFT-E6 Wi-Fi dongle with the C300 (Updated)

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This is the screen on my iPad from the Canon C300 Wi-Fi remote via the WFT-E6. Thanks to Canon UK I have a loan of a Wi-Fi dongle to test for all you C300 users.

The thing I love about the software is the ability to change any of the settings using the iPads touch screen, all the useful parts of the C300 at your finger tips, its like having a remote CCU (Camera control unit).

Remember this dongle is primarily used with the likes of the new Canon 1Dx DSLR and the focus function seen above does not work with the C300…OR DOES IT !

Just had an email from Nick Milne of Canon who tells me if I have an EF lens switched to AF the “FOCUS” actually works…just put this to the test and amazing you get the ability to focus the lens.

Now with the slight delay in picture focusing becomes a lottery but if you add an external monitor feed from the HD SDI or hook a Zacuto EVF onto the HDMI you get a lag free picture.

This feature could be very useful in a hazardous environment or for wildlife filming.

Further to my on going review Canon tell me that the dongle is capable of producing its own WI-Fi hotspot so this feature will work even in the desert !…fantastic. Once Canon relay that information I will show you how to setup a Wi-Fi hotspot via the C300 and post it on www.c300user.co.uk

UPDATE : You seemingly make an adhoc connection which is fine but after a lot of time spent this evening I did not manage to make the C300 talk to my iPad 2 so I will contact Canon tomorrow and get a template for the Wi-Fi hotspot connection and pass it on.

Further update : The chap from Canon won’t be back till Wednesday.

Last update : The WFT E6 went on the blink, remember it was a pre production model, I was hoping to show you how to make an adhoc connection and play with Metadata input but that will have to wait.

Downside is the slight delay in picture reaching the iPad it updates about 1fps, Tudor has asked if this could be used as a directors hand held remote monitor, yes if he or she is only using it for composition, shot length etc. Lip sync or moving shots…no ! I will ask Canon if the lag can be improved upon.

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

What’s the magic ingredient in the Canon C300

Categories: Miscellaneous 3 Comments

For just over a year I have lived with the Panasonic AF101 then the Sony FS100, both cameras for around six months each. As a technical person the bug bear with both the Panasonic and the Sony was the lack of accurate aperture.

The Panasonic AF101 was my first step down the large sensor road and at the time I loved the camera but the lack of resolution (800 lines) and mish mosh of lenses made me rethink my ideas when the Sony F3 became available.

I used the Sony F3 along side the AF101 during an NHS job and the resolution was night and day not to mention the low light capabilities of the F3, when the Sony FS100 came along I was not so keen as the lack of ND was appalling and a technical nightmare.

The resolution and stunning pictures persuaded me to jump ship to the Sony FS100 and you get to work around the ND, firstly with resin filters then when they became more commercially available the costly vari-fader ND filters.

I was now totally committed to using Nikon glass but that fatal decision taken by Mr Nikon all those years ago to have the lens focus anti clockwise is fine when used as a photographic tool but a total mess when used manually with a large sensor camera.

ENG camera men and women are programmed to pull focus clockwise from an early age and if you dare to go against the grain you start loosing good shots and more importantly cocking up interviews as you automatically pull focus the wrong way with Nikon glass.

The Canon C300 ticks all my boxes, a large range of Canon EF glass that focuses clockwise, 50Mb/s, 4:2:2, 720 50p, Super 35mm low noise sensor, three ND filters and uses relatively low cost CF cards.

No other camera on the large sensor market comes close to the Canon C300 for choice of quality dedicated glass that does not need an adapter or a bolt on recorder just to attain 50Mb/s.

Thats the C300s magical ingredient and why both Sony and Panasonic will find  it hard to compete, Nikon glass is very sharp but the anti-clockwise focusing is a major turn off as is a camera dedicated to PL glass unless you can afford the £4K per lens asking price.

Canon have nailed it with the C300 EF camera and no matter what Sony or Panasonic produce they will always be fighting against the dedicated EF mount   seen on the C300…a very powerful and clever move by Canon.

Alister Chapman “But you do forget about the EF lens Achilles heel which is the way the iris steps in small increments as opposed to smooth iris step less iris control that you can get with a Nikon lens or PL lens. So no exposure changes mid shot with an EF lens”

Give me a Canon EF lens every time, Nikon on an adapter plus focusing anticlockwise is a non starter and if you are willing to pay £4K for a PL lens you would expect it to have a manual iris.

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

BVE 2012 Show review

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

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

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