Sony F3 Noise findings by Alister Chapman

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Alister “One of the tests I did with the PMW-F3 in Oslo was to look at the cameras noise and grain. There was nothing sophisticated about the test, simply shooting a few clips with the gain set at 0db, 9db and 18db. You can see the results on the left. I had to blow up the image by 200% as at 100% you could barely see any difference.

Even at +18db the noise level is remarkably low and I would not be afraid of using 18db of gain if I needed to. This lack of noise is one of the benefits of a large sensor with big pixels”.

Funnily enough when Philip Bloom and myself were looking over the Sony F3 at the London launch a couple of weeks ago Phil noticed that the camera was set to 12db to which I never paid much attention to at the time but looking back on it and the footage we shot on the day it was remarkably noiseless.

I have to agree with Alister’s findings that this camcorder even at 18db is unreal, I have never seen a camcorder to date that will give you usable pictures at 18db and if you are shooting low light moody productions this camcorder will fit the bill.

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

Cineroid EVF for DSLR or AF101/F3…£645 from Creative Video

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This is an interesting little gadget, an independent EVF that claims higher resolution than your Canon DSLR, Panasonic AF101 and Sony’s F3. Now I have to remain on the fence with this one until I see one working in the flesh, maybe Creative Video could send me one to review.  Details are on Creative Video’s web site the price is £645 incl vat.

CVP link…

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

The Voigtlander NOKTON 25mm f0.95 micro 4/3″lens for the Panasonic AF101

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Having just spent £800 on one lens for a camera that I do not have yet may seem a bit ludicrous but I want to be set up for the Panasonic AF101 when it ships later this month.

Remember all of you who are thinking of buying the AF101 it does not come with a lens so your options are…

Micro 4/3″

4/3″ to Micro 4/3″ using a Panasonic DMW-MA1 adaptor

Nikon to Micro 4/3″ adaptor from MTF (From stock)

PL to Micro 4/3″ adaptor from MTF (From stock)

Canon to micro 4/3″ wireless adaptor (Still in production)

You are not stuck for choice and I can vouch that the Panasonic 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens is very sharp indeed. The 25mm Nokton has a certain appeal and remember although this is a 25mm lens on a Micro 4/3″ you can double the focal length so rather than being 25mm it’s actually 50mm.

I took some test shots with the 25mm Nokton on a Panasonic G2 to let you see how it performs at different aperture settings, this would have the same effect used on the AF101. Firstly as with most lenses of this type you are pushing the boundaries at f0.95 though the “bokeh” or the amount of blur is exceptional though even at f2.8 Dill the dog has a lovely shallow depth of field.

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

H Preston Media…Panasonic OPEN DAY…7th December 2010

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I hope by Tuesday of next week we will be well rid of the snow as H Preston Media holds their Panasonic Open Day. At around 4pm you can get a glimpse of the new Panasonic AF101 thats being specially delivered from Europe for the day.

There will be many Panasonic products on show from 10.30am including the new AG-3DA1 professional 3D camcorder, now for my money this is the way to shoot 3D. The pictures I saw during ProVideo 2010 were stunning and looked like Photoshop layers. This camera allows you to zoom unlike it’s domestic SD750.

If I were shooting a big budget 3D production this would be my choice as it performs like a conventional camcorder and is truly portable unlike the 45˚ mirror versions with two camcorders stuck at 90˚ to each other.

The other main reason for choosing this camera is it’s ability to record onto two SDHC cards, combining the two pictures gives you the 3D effect but a great feature is the ability to produce a 2D version very easily by only using the V2 or V1 from the timeline, this is truly versatile as you can easily deliver 3D and 2D versions of the same production.

Sadly this camcorder has not been given the publicity it richly deserves as the AF101 has stolen it’s limelight but you have a chance to see this camcorder at the Hampton Open Day on the 7th of December 2010.

Click here for map and address details…

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

“30 MINUTE MEALS” filmed with Canon 5D2 and RED ONE cameras

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Fascinating…here we have a company who dare to mix Canon 5D2s with RED ONE’s and get away with it. Interestingly from all accounts the two cameras matched in post production but here is a small extract from the story on HD Magazine Digital Edition No.45…

It just goes to show even Jamie Oliver is a big DSLR fan though I am still not convinced now we have the Panasonic AF101 and the Sony F3 though would the Panasonic or the Sony sit beside the RED ONE… that’s a story yet to be told.

This is a YouTube link to a 3min documentary talking about 30 minute meals with shots of filming…

You can catch the full story at

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

MicroGaffer what a brilliant idea

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I was filming in Ibrox football stadium last week and as you can see from the picture below there were a lot of camera sound cables strewn across the floor, Rangers like most big football clubs supply a line level feed from two microphones on the desk. In order to keep my kit to a minimum ie. 4 bags,I forgot to re-pack my trusty roll of Gaff tape.

MicroGaffer is the perfect companion for all my bags then at least I will have one usable not so heavy roll of tape with me. The size of the tape is very convenient as I usually tear off smaller strips from the bigger 2″ roll.

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

Prime lenses on the AG AF101

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This is the latest picture of the Panasonic AG AF101 FilmLike camcorder. This looks the part and is how many of you will using the AF101…with Prime Lenses. The Prime lens marketplace must be buzzing with DPs ordering 35, 50,85mm lenses.

Alister Chapman says “PL mount lenses were developed by Arriflex for use with movie cameras, so PL mount lenses are an obvious choice. You used to be able to pick up older PL mount lenses quite cheaply, but when RED came along most of these got snapped up, so now PL mount lenses tend to be expensive. If you want top quality then Zeiss or Cooke lenses are the obvious choice. If your budget won’t stretch that far there are a number of 35mm SLR lenses that have been converted to PL mount.

PL  mount lenses often have witness marks for focus. This are factory engraved markings, individual to that lens for exact focus distances. They also often feature T stops instead of F stops for aperture. An F stop is the ratio of the iris opening to the focal length of the lens and gives the theoretical  amount of light that will pass through the lens if it was 100% efficient. A T stop on the other hand is the actual amount of light passing through the lens taking into account aperture size and transmission losses through the lens. A prime lens with an f1.4 aperture may only be a T2 lens after loss through the glass elements is taken into account. A multi element zoom lens will have higher losses, so a f2.8 lens may have a T stop of T4. However it is the iris size and thus the f stop that determines the Depth of Field.”

To read his fascinating story on Prime lenses…

Not all lenses are the same although Canon and Nikon produce at least 3 qualities of lens the best in Canon’s case being their “L” glass. You get better optics in “L” glass, optics to stop light loss, aberrations, vignetting and light versus optical quality. On a simple lens you will find that it will be slightly soft till you stop down to f5.6-f8 by that time your light is overtaken by grain if you are filming in a room with subdued lighting.

This is where the “L” glass comes in, I usually choose Canon “L” glass that is f2.8 all the way through which means that no matter where your zoom is 70mm or 200mm you can shoot at f2.8 and get sharp pictures. This is not true of lesser lenses in the Canon range where they start at possibly f3.5 and stop down to f6.3 loosing you a fair amount of light by the time you are at 200mm.

So in my opinion it’s prudent to always afford the best glass possible if you buy a DSLR like a Canon then as in this case you can use the same “L” glass on your AF101 using a Canon adaptor available Dec-Jan 2011.

Is there a major difference between Prime and “L” glass…in my books you always strive for the best but at around £8,000 per Prime lens it’s a bit prohibitive but remember you can always hire your Prime lenses and if I were a rental company I would be stocking up on PL glass as I think there is going to be an explosion of DPs renting PL glass.

Back to my question is there much difference, personally you have to to back in time to realise that for big 35mm productions you had one choice…PL glass after all it was made for the cinema in mind. OK so that was many years ago and if you wanted the best… PL was the answer. Today we have far superior optics both in PL glass and 35mm glass but for many of us the choice will be micro 4/3″ or 35mm glass due to constraints in budget and having the glass already.

As I said in the previous blog I do a lot of head and shoulder interviews so the shallow depth of field will be an absolute winner for me as demonstrated above.

Lenses are as important as the camera itself so aim high when choosing your glass for your AF101 wether you rent or buy, PL or 35mm, make sure you do not compromise your clients shoot with cheap glass.

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

Are you sitting on the shallow depth of field fence

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When it comes to choosing one of the new cinematic camcorders it’s a hard choice, depending on your finances. On the one hand we have the Sony F3 Super 35mm sensor and on the other hand we have the Panasonic AF101 micro 4/3″ sensor.

The choice is not as simple as it may first appear, the Sony certainly has the better sensor and at 63dB a fairly noiseless sensor so why would you choose the Panasonic ?

Firstly the Panasonic is three times cheaper than the Sony so if budget is your driving force there is no competition. Secondly the Panasonic has a far better choice of lens adaptors from PL, Nikon and Canon in fact speaking to Mike Tapa only today he tells me that he has had a run on his PL to micro 4/3″ adaptor.

I met up with Mike recently on my way down to London and he told me that the Panasonic AF101 has brought a great amount of interest in his micro 4/3″ adaptors, from dealers worldwide to individuals making sure they have the correct adaptor in place when they purchase the AF101. Strangely he has had more interest in PL mounts than Nikon which surprises me as the Prime Lens route is a dear one, it also tells me that DPs are taking this camera seriously.

The Sony F3 gives you two mounts effectively, a PL mount and if you take this off the camera you are left with a new “F” mount which is a natts whisker short of a standard EX mount except with the electrical contacts in a different position and a small pin that locates with a cutout in the top lens mount flange.

Both cameras suffer from bad viewfinders though the Sony is a tad better than the Panasonic, it’s my biggest bug bear with these camcorders I can’t understand why Sony & Panasonic put such bad viewfinders on a shallow depth of field camera when focusing is far more critical than with a conventional camcorder. Future cameras in my opinion should offer you Hi-Rez viewfinders even if it’s an optional extra.

Both cameras offer similar features from 1080 50i to 720 50p and 25/24p, the Sony records at 35Mbs while the Panasonic is 24Mbs both have HD SDI out giving you 4:2:2 and the F3  having a dual link HD SDI option that with an upgrade will give you 1080 50p 4:4:4 into an external recorder.

Two DPs I know are committing to the Sony F3, Alister Chapman and Paul Joy. Alister has just finished an initial review of the camcorder…

Alister  “This is NOT as big as the frame of a full frame 35mm DSLR (Canon 5D) or 35mm SLR camera. It is closer to an APS-C sensor in size. This is important, because if you want to use PL mount lenses designed for super 35mm film you need this size of sensor, any bigger and you would get a fall off in performance at the edges and possibly some vignetting. Why do you want such a big sensor? Well the larger the sensor, the shallower the depth of field for any given field of view. In 2D film making it is traditional to use the difference in focus between background and foreground to give a scene a sense of depth, this is part of the “filmic” look that many video makers aspire to.

A further advantage of this low light performance is that you can use very low levels of gain or amplification to get a decent picture. Consider a stereo sound system or even an ipod. Pause the music and turn the sound up high… what do you hear? Hiss!  The hiss is the electrical noise generated in the system, the higher the gain or volume, the greater the noise. It’s exactly the same with video cameras. If you have a camera with a sensitive sensor you don’t need to have lot’s of gain (volume) to produce a bright picture and once again this is evident in the F3′s beautiful images which have extremely low levels of noise and grain. At 0db it’s all but impossible to see any noise in the pictures from the PMW-F3. Even switching the gain all the way up to +18db the image is still remarkably clean and I would, for the very first time be happy to use an F3 with +18db gain for a paying production, if needed.”

To read Alisters conclusions go to…

As well as myself I also know of many more DPs committing to the Panasonic AF101 so whats the draw ? Well I can only come at it from my own point of view, I run a small production company and we do a lot of interviews which are partly spoiled by drab backgrounds, there is a limit to creative lighting and even with a 2/3″ camera you can’t exclude some backgrounds as the room is often to small. In a lot of medical interviews you have to work with what you are given, consultants time is like gold dust.

This is where the AF101 comes in the shallow depth of field will give me the shots I have been craving for over the last few years, 35mm adaptors were far to cumbersome and by the time you add the prime lens took up far too much room so why did I not revert to the Canon 5D2…simple…little to no control over focus, if you interview a doctor and get it wrong you may not be allowed a second chance and it erodes your reputation.

I take on board that the AF101 may not be as good as the Sony F3 but I have invested in a Sony PMW-350 only last year which is a cracking camcorder and I am not about to throw that up in the air nor can I afford the asking price of the F3. At £4000 the Panasonic is affordable and leaves me plenty of change for batteries, lenses and adaptors. I own some sexy Canon “L” glass and look forward to using it on my AF101 in fact a company in the USA is bringing out a fantastic adaptor early next year that will blow your socks off…I kid you not. The Canon adaptor alone is worth owning the Panasonic AF101.

So that’s my take on the AF101 if money and the price of PL glass was not an option I would plum for the F3 but each to their own, one thing that’s clear is that there is a market for both filmlike camcorders and the professionals like me who never took to the HDSLR are being given a bite of the shallow depth of field cherry with cameras that have all the functionality of what we are used to and the added bonus of minus the pitfalls of the HDSLR.

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

Rick Young interview with HD Warrior in London

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This is Rick Young from MacVideo who also attended the Sony F3 press launch and during the day caught up with me for an interview.

Click here

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

Major commitment for the new Panasonic AG-AF101 from H Preston Media

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Just today it has been confirmed that H Preston Media have ordered 120 Panasonic AG-AF101 camcorders showing full commitment to the new cinematic camera.

John Preston said “We are so committed to this new camcorder as we feel it has the potential to rock the video market to it’s core. Usually when Sony or Panasonic announce a new camcorder we get cameramen looking to update but this time we have been inundated not only with pre-orders but companies from Europe looking to buy the new AF101 camera.

“Our technical and working DP Philip Johnston has been put in charge of all orders and is sourcing all the accessories from around the globe to make sure we have all the adaptors in place.”

“Mike Tapa from MTF is stepping up production of his Nikon to micro 4/3″ adaptor along with his PL to micro 4/3” plate that will cater for at least 60% of the marketplace and a company in the USA who are producing an amazing Canon adaptor that will not only pull focus but will allow wirefree aperture as well.

“We are making sure we also have spare batteries in stock as this will be an essential purchase beyond the camcorder itself and we can place a special order for PL lenses or Micro 4/3″ Panasonic or Olympus lenses as needed.”

“On Tuesday the 7th of December we have an open day at our Hampton show room in London and we shall be showing off the new Panasonic AF101 from 4-7pm, we will also have an MTF Nikon to Micro 4/3” adaptor if you want to see your Nikon glass on the 101, full details at”

HDW…As you all know I work part time for John and we are working very hard behind the scenes to make sure everyone who orders an AF101 gets the usual gold star service you have come to expect from H Preston Media.

I will be getting to know the camcorder as soon as it arrives from Japan and be updating my blog to pass on any hints and tips to you all. I have a Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 Micro 4/3″ lens arriving today that I purchased with the AF101 in mind, it’s not cheap at £695 but the quality of the optics are stunning. My friend Philip Bloom told me about this lens when I met up with him last week in London as he said “It’s a must have lens”.

Voightlander is made by the same company that produce the glass for Leica and if you look at the pictures below you can see just how sharp this lens is.

Philip Bloom has produced this tasty video using the new Voightlander 25mm f0.95 lens on the Panasonic GH2…fantastic.

A little test film of my adorable mum cooking lunch for the three of us.

Shot on a GH2 in 24p “Cinema Mode” using one single lens. The wonderful Voigtlander 25mm F.95. This lens and this camera are soul mates!

Graded with Magic Bullet Looks. 20% off at checkout with code: bloom20

Read more on my blog with a full review coming soon:

Music Cotton Candy by Rio Jeno

Big thanks to mum for her patience whilst I shot this!

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

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