Camera ident side plate “Simple ideas from HD Warrior”

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Freelancers like myself do not care to stick labels onto our camcorders as they have a better secondhand value if they look pristine. If you have not bought a camcorder for a while you will not have noticed the amount of easy smear plastic thats making it’s way into the market place. Sony use a strange plastic on the PMW-350 that smears very easily, you can wipe it clean at the end of a shoot but I am no fan of this type of plastic coating.

Most camcorders have a vacant space on the “tape/memory slot” side of the camera, I cannot imaging trying to scrape off a sticky ident label after a year in fact I have no doubt that it would damage the plastic.

My solution is simple…as always this is an idea waiting to happen, a side plate that is made of the same material as the camera body that you choose to screw on if you plan to use an ident label ie. BBC NEWS, SKY NEWS etc. How easy would it be for Sony, Panasonic, JVC to supply such a plate in the camera box that you could choose to use or not use depending on your type of work.

The screw holes on the camera body would be produced as part of the production line so all you have to do is screw your plate on and your away…how simple is that idea and it looks more professional.

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“There has never been a better time for shallow depth of field camcorders.”

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OK so this is a photoshop mock up but I warn Sony and Panasonic now…Canon will have no qualms in producing such a camera in the near future as they have already done so in the past with the XF305 !

The market is crying out for a shallow depth of field camcorder with 1080 50p, 4:2:2, 50Mbs, Super 35mm sensor, Canon and PL adaptor, this would rock the market to it’s foundations. The first manufacturer to come up with such a feature rich, spec camcorder at a competitive price will take the market by storm.

Canon have in my opinion sat back and let their photographic brothers take all the credit with various DSLRs but I think the XF305 was a glimpse of Canon’s future thinking. Unlike their competitors Canon have nothing to loose by bringing out a FilmLike camcorder like the XF-S35 all they will do is greatly enhance their profits and once again bring out a camcorder fit for BBC approval.

So far Sony and Panasonic want us to “buy into the future” in other words buy the lesser spec today and upgrade in the future, this madness has been going on for years and it will take an outsider once again to bring all the manufacturers to their senses.

RED Digital cinema are the only company who are ahead of the game with the RED ONE and the “buy and bolt” attitude, buy a simple working modular system then add a higher rez viewfinder, flash drive etc. when you can afford them. That philosophy makes a lot of sense, get the camera sold then earn out of the bolt on accessories.

We now have a market with the imminent Panasonic AF101 coming out during December at around the £4000 mark and I have to say with a lot of interested parties waiting to buy one…the Sony F3, launched only two weeks ago arriving during January 2011 at around the £12,000 body only and during the summer we should see the Sony NXCAM FilmLike camcorder for around the £5000 mark.

There has never been a better time for shallow depth of field camcorders the market is becoming awash with them. I still think Canon or JVC will pounce into the limelight with a killer camera…remember it only takes one to upset the apple cart and my money is on Canon.

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New Firmware for Sony NEX-VG10 (PC & MAC)

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A new firmware is now available for the NEX-VG10 for both PC and MAC. I have already tried it out on my review VG10 and it updates to V0.2 firmware. You must have the camcorder connected to the mains or it wont proceed. You connect your PC or MAC to the camcorder via the USB cable provided and follow the on screen instructions.

Click here for the SONY link…

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F3 Final thoughts…”A definite winner from day one”

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Sony invited me to London to get a hands on with the PMW-F3, no holes barred, I stuck my SxS card into slot one and Mr Bloom recorded me doing a piece to camera.

The frame grab below is from the SxS card and as you would expect it’s not a million miles away from the quality seen from any 35Mbs SxS footage, this proves that filming in SxS mode you are producing nothing better than an EX1R/EX3 can produce but with less noise and the shallow depth of field.

My main concern is the viewfinder, most DPs I know would not be happy with such a basic viewfinder, it’s just not good enough to see critical focus though Philip Bloom used what he called a “push in” where you press a button and it magnifies the picture on the LCD.

Sony did not take a leaf out of RED’s book when producing this camera and it’s viewfinder yet if they had only given us a connector to which we could attach a choice of viewfinders of varying qualities and prices. Sony’s reply would be the camera is made to a budget. My reply is that if you are going to use such a camera even as a “B” camera to an F35 then you must be able to see critical focus.

The EX3 was produced with a splendid viewfinder carried onto the PMW-350 yet a camcorder capable of so much more is compromised due to such a basic need as a decent Hi-Rez viewfinder, fortunately Sony have a fantastically sharp LCD monitor the PVM-740 OLED.

Both Philip Bloom and myself are of the opinion that the F3 would have been far better received if it had 50Mbs, 4:2:2 rather than 35Mbs 4:2:0. Cameramen as a rule do not like add on’s like NanoFlashes if we can avoid them, it’s not the NanoFlash itself but the fear of something going wrong between the camera and the external recording device being used.

When you see this camera beside the F35 and 9000 you can’t quite see the logic in Sony making it so small after all once you put your prime lens on the front you are not going to use it hand held if you can avoid it but I for one see it as a refreshing alternative to a 650 with 35mm adaptor.

The F3 can produce cracking 1080 50p 4:4:4 pictures but again uses the dual link HD SDI sockets and a payed upgrade into an SR Memory recorder, all these options cost a lot more money.

Paul Joy a film maker was taken by the fact that if he owned the F3 he could use it in many guises, corporate one day and ENG the next using the new zoom lens…this lens will not be previewed till April 2011 which means availability not till June 2011. Why ?

Sony must have known this camera was going to have a zoom control why did they not have a working zoom lens available with the launch of the camera, I would be stuck not having a zoom lens for my F3 from day one as most of my work does not involve prime lenses nor do I own any unless you count my Canon “L” glass.

This brings me onto my last topic, prime lenses ! Not everyone is going to use expensive PL mount lenses on their F3 so Sony had better contact Canon and Nikon adaptor manufacturers if they want a bigger audience to sell this camera to.

The F3 looks the business and will be a refreshing alternative within Drama, no more 35mm adaptors and oversized camcorders taking up excessive room, I think DPs will take to this camera like a duck to water and if Creative Video’s pre order for 100 units is anything to go by it’s a definite winner from day one.

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

Talking about camcorder designs

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Having recently attended the Sony F3 launch in London we were treated to an exclusive viewing of a “CONCEPT” NXCAM Super 35mm camcorder which had all the design features of a “NORI BRICK” with a lens stuck on the front.

SONY Please, Please, Please do not continue down this route we already have one “BRIC CAM” from Panasonic affectionately known by one DP as “An ugly duckling with swan like pictures” yes the AF101 has been given the usual square box treatment something we have become used to with Panasonic.

We have 8 months or so before we see the new NX35CAM as I am christening it so lets not get tied down with “let’s make it as small as possible” like a DSLR. NO ! thats not what cameramen want…a top heavy camera on the end of a square box.

I have decided to give the boy’s in Japan a wee hand with the NX35CAM design so I have taken the features from the NXCAM and the F3 and done a splendid  Photoshop job by combining the features of both.

Make it bigger a few DPs I have spoken to have remarked that the F3 would have been better as a shoulder mount design then we could have had viewfinder choices, XLRs on the back and a body that would have coped better with heavier prime PL lenses but then again they did not care to come and ask my opinion.

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Support Children in Need…”Please donate to a good cause”

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You can donate by clicking here…

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SONY F3 Video Press Launch in London

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[xr_video id=”f20e1daf98e2435a9c90234af8879b9c” size=”md”]

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Sony launch more than the F3 at the London Press launch

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This was the big surprise in London’s Press launch of the new Sony F3 FilmLike camcorder, after the formal presentations talking about the F3 and showing some footage we were invited to a world exclusive, the launch of the Sony NXCAM Super 35mm camcorder at a tentative price of €6000 that’s surprise, surprise £4000.


Sony Professional today announced that it is developing a new type of E-mount 35mm camcorder. Aimed at professional cinematographers utilising a Super-35mm large format CMOS sensor, this new camcorder will become one of the new models in the “NXCAM” line-up. Available early summer of 2011, it targets the expanding entry-level digital cinematography market.

Sony Professional is already a key player in the 35mm digital cinematography market with the highly acclaimed “Cinealta” F35 and SRW-9000PL for high-end digital cinema production. Sony has also just strengthened its line-up in this category with the recent PMW-F3 camera, combining performance and price in a powerful and affordable production tool. With this latest “NXCAM” HD camcorder, Sony looks to further strengthen its position in the entry-level segment. The new model provides an affordable yet highly capable professional solution for many applications, including independent film, pop promotions and corporate communications all looking for a cinematic look to their content.

The “NXCAM” HD camcorder under development will be equipped with a Super-35mm sensor, a widely used stock size in the film industry, perfectly designed for capturing motion pictures. This new sensor will have extraordinary performance in terms of picture quality and sensitivity, and is able to offer depth of field control and flexibility with a wide range of lens options available.

The adoption of the E-mount interchangeable lens system means that it is identical to the “α” series lens system used on the NEX-5, 3 and NEX-VG10, current and future E-mount lenses will be compatible with this new camcorder. In addition, a very short flange back distance (the distance between lens mount surface and sensor surface) allows various A-mount lenses be mounted via a lens adaptor (LA-EA1). Furthermore, it is also possible to attach a range of other lenses using third-party lens adaptors. With such flexibility, users will be able to experiment with various creative expressions by exploiting the characteristics of different optics.
The recording format for this new HD camcorder will be AVCHD, widely supported by many NLE software vendors and the same format as the HXR-NX5E NXCAM camcorder.
There is also a plan to implement 1080p ( 50p / 25p) recording modes.
(MPEG4-AVC/H.264 compression will be used for these modes.)
*2: 59.94p / 29.97p / 23.98p respectively.

I will bring you a full report tomorrow from the London show.

Sony NXCAM HD Teaser Trailer from H. Paul Moon on Vimeo.

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Sony F3 hands on Press Launch “London 2010”

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Not long to go now and I will be down in London at the press launch of the new Sony F3 Super 35mm camcorder. Sony have released more updated photographs of this camera with their CineAlta badge on the LCD, I hope we are going to play with production models.

Just to let you see a picture of the SRW-1 field recorder that Sony produce for the F35 range of camcorders at the moment, Sony have already told us that they are working on an “S1” field recorder that will be considerably smaller in size to the SRW-1. Sony may give me more information on Wednesday about the “S1” and I hope to quiz them about various anxieties DPs have over the F3 including..

“At this price point using Super 35mm why did Sony not produce a camera with 50Mbs, 4:2:2, this has disappointed a few DPs I have spoken to.”

“Any possibility to hook up a hi-res Sony broadcast viewfinder to the F3. The camera looks fine, but without a proper viewfinder, it will just be of no use to me as a documentary cameraman.”

“Whats the glass in the packaged set? Minolta or Zeiss? im assuming its a cine housed body? ”

“Does the camera require the dual link HD-SDI to be operational to use the slog function? And then if so does the slog function only operate in 444? Im assuming yes to both.”

“What is the mount with out the PL adaptor and will there be other adaptors if, so for what lenses?”

These are just a selection of questions DPs around the globe are wanting answers to. I am traveling as light as I can but I am also producing a WEBDOC for you chaps with some footage fresh from an F3 so bear with me if my blog is a wee bit stagnant for a couple of days as I have no way of updating it without a laptop. PS. Thanks to WORDPRESS for iPad not working after TWO updates I am still unable to update during my time away.

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

Design a Camera “What the designers should know”

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It’s very strange but from the word go the Sony F3  has landed itself in a fierce debate with DPs all over the globe, our main head scratching is Sony’s design team’s decision to make such a Hi-end product 35Mbs, 4:2:0. Now I have been told it gives you a very good quality off line editing format that wont tax your computer but I must add that an extra 15Mbs would not have taxed any fairly decent spec NLE either.

So why did Sony decide to make the F3 a glorified EX3 spec camcorder…you must take on board that any camera takes a minimum of two years from design to production so the F3 was being designed as far back as 2008, saying that so was the PMW-500 which is 50Mbs so was there a clash of the two camcorders to be avoided, we will never know.

Sony are bringing out their own “S1” recorder for the F3 which will allow you to record via the dual HD SDI sockets up to 1080 50p, 4:4:4, 50Mbs and possibly 100Mbs or more so all is not lost. It would have been far more convenient if the F3 had recorded at 50Mbs 4:2:2 out of the box.

Back to my original title for this blog “Design a camera”…so if we take the Canon XF305 which has just been approved by the BBC for HD broadcast at the starting line for 2011 then all camcorders should now come with a minimum spec of 50Mbs, 4:2:2 and please if you are going to design an HD camcorder do not bring it out without a decent HI-Rez viewfinder.

Philip Bloom was more than disappointed with his “almost finished” Panasonic AG AF101’s viewfinder, he could not find critical focus, it beggars belief that any video manufacturer dares to produce an HD camcorder without pricing in a Hi-Rez viewfinder, we are all in agreement that an extra £500 on to the price would be money well spent to get a decent viewfinder.

The other thing that gives one of my DP pals a problem is the insistance on producing a PL mount camcorder in a hand held format, what’s the problem in making it shoulder mount and having the XLRs feed out of the back…as is normal, his worry with the F3 and the AF101 is if you attach XLRs into the side of the camcorder it will give the camera a tendency for pulling to the side of the XLRs, not good for panning shots.

The poor designer what they must go through knowing that the press is just waiting to pull their hard work to bits…it was a very poignant part of Philip Blooms blog when watching Filippo Chiesa’s footage Osaka day 2 that we get to see some of the hard working team behind the Panasonic AF101, all in the company uniform.

We are told that both Panasonic and Sony sit down with DPs when taking the first steps in designing a new product and discuss the technical issues as well as the practical one’s, so far I have never met such a DP, that is not to say they don’t exist.

You can bet another FilmLike camcorder is now one year away and it will come with more bells and whistles or maybe the cutdown “Lite” version who knows but it’s a cert that somewhere in Japan there are designs for many new camcorders and we will get to play with them in due course.

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