DJI Phantom 4

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Guest blog by Simon Beer…
Simon is co-founder of one of our site sponsors, Production Gear.  He’s also had a CAA permission for aerial work since early 2014 and has been building and flying drones since mid 2012.

Starting as something of a hobby and a growing obsession I started building and flying drones in the late Summer of 2012.  Like most chaps I’m in to gadgets, technology, cameras and if the combination of all of the above can fly then we’re looking at something that can only be viewed as the Holy Grail of boys-toys.
My first few attempts to build a flying machine were relatively successful if not slightly dangerous, these behemoths were simply built but all controlled by the ever so clever DJI flight controller – the Naza. It’s this very flight controller that became the first brain of the iconic series of drones that we all instantly recognise at the compact Phantom quadcopter.
The Phantom series is the most pictured drone in the daily press that is fairly or unfairly often labelled as the Phantom Menace.  The lowly Phantom has been blamed for all types of mischief and was even used in an illustration by one popular red top as a swarm of weaponised unmanned aircraft flying over a desert.  It’s fair to say that to many the colour and shape of the Phantom is instantly recognisable and is probably the countries, if the not the planets favourite and best selling drone.
As a disciple to DJI I’ve owned and / or flown every model of drone they’ve sold from the large S1000 octocopter down to the ever so small Phantom.  Secretly I’ve huge respect for the lowly Phantom.  I first received my Phantom 1 back in January 2013 and have been a huge fan of this diminutive drone ever since.  I flew my Phantom 1 like crazy, upgraded it with T-Power motors, fitted a video transmitter, eventually a stabilised gimbal before I bought a Phantom 2 and the cycled repeated itself.
It was with the arrival of the Phantom 3 that I felt DJI had made the largest number of changes, it was honestly like I had been driving an 1980s manual car then suddenly jumped into a brand new, modern automatic car.  The amount of tinkering that could be had with the Phantom 3 was minimal as DJI had cleverly incorporated a HD video transmitter, full telemetry which fed me a constant stream of data such as battery level, heading, height etc…  The Phantom 3 was to me a fabulous drone, however not everyone thought so…
Simon with “vandalised” Phantom 2 after flying at Arsenal football club training centre
As reported in Forbes magazine back in May 2015 DJIs founder and Billionaire Drone Overlord – Frank Wang – didn’t share my sentiments and was notably present from the Phantom 3 product launch going on record to say “the product was not as perfect” as he had expected.  Wang, a 35 year old Chinese national is an interesting character who keeps a twin size wooden bed in his office near his desk, on the door of his office hangs a sign that simply reads “Those with brains only”.
But it’s Wangs passion and drive that see DJI become a global technology giant often compared to Apple – which makes the Phantom 4 an interesting beast, you see the Phantom 4 is a collaboration between these two global tech giants.  The white drone, sleek lines and packaging, the glossy marketing and now the DJI experience stores that are opening are all very Apple-esque indeed.
The full details and possible involvement in this collaboration have yet to surface, the facts we know are that the Phantom 4 is currently only available for pre-order from either DJI or Apple until March 23rd after this date DJIs existing network of dealers will then be able to start accepting orders.
The Phantom 4 is in itself another technological jump forward and offers us even more semi-autonomous functionality.  Firstly over the previous generation of drone the Phantom 4 boasts an increased 28 minute battery life.  The GoPro busting DJI camera has an F2.8 lens with improved optics over the Phantom 3 and can now shoot HD up to 120fps.
The real “killer” features include visual tracking which as the name suggests allows you to frame a human life form on your iDevice screen by tapping on them and watch as in all Terminator style glory your new unweaponsied drone follows them until the battery is depleted or a member of the resistance shoots it down.
The other new feature DJI are shouting about from the roof-tops is the obstacle sensing system, this sense and avoid system will bring the aircraft to a hover or simply avoid the hazard altogether by flying around it – depending on which mode you are flying in.  The Phantom 4 also has a new “Sports” mode, maximum speed is increased by 25% to a staggering 45mph.  DJI also boast a range of 3.1 miles, although in the UK you shouldn’t be flying it more than 500M away from yourself.
DJI have quietly included another “big news” upgrade which doesn’t seem to be exciting many other than me.  To increase reliability and reduce possible situations where the drone decides to head off on its own DJI have for good measure included two compasses and two inertial measurement units.  This redundancy along with improved positioning system and continued use of both GPS and GLONASS satellites makes this tiny powerhouse safer to fly than ever.
To date I sadly haven’t flown the Phantom 4 so I can’t say how it feels, how responsive it is, whether or not I can crash it into a tree or whether obstacle avoidance will prevail.  What we do know is that DJI continue to innovate and the new features that are offered by the Phantom 4 elevate this drone to a level where it continues to compete or out shadow the competition who include Yuneec and 3DR.

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

Hardest blog post of all

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me and Sir Winston

This is me at the Victory Services Club in the heart of London just after BVE 2016, since my trip to BVE I have suffered a small stroke so have to take things a lot slower even blogging. My speech is affected as is my balance but I have been lucky, so no reviews for a while and no late night blogging. I am so sorry to my regulars  who like their daily dose of HD Warrior.

For  a while I will have guest postings the first from a good friend of mine Simon Beer from Production Gear.

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

Sony FS5 Firmware update V1.11

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Sony V1.11

This firmware addresses the edge tearing at high gain levels caused by the temporal noise reduction and also includes some small tweaks to the XAVC encoder to minimise macro blocking.

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

BVE Day 2 and my pick of the show

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bve 2

Day 2 and the place was heaving, proving that people still want to touch and feel equipment before they make up their minds to purchase.

prod gear

The boys at Production Gear were having a ball, taking good orders from some big significant clients.


My camera accessory of BVE 2016 must be the new camera light from Ledgo the E116C, at £60 it’s a no brainer. Unlike conventional LED lights there are no piercing focusing bright lights it’s just a constant soft glow.


Sam Thornley from distributers Holdan told me Alan Roberts gave the light a very commendable TLCI of 82. Anything above 80 is excellent. I used the light for my interviews on day one. Its also bi-colour ranging from 3200 to 5600. The best news is its weight 230g and takes a range of batteries from Sony L to Panasonic.


The URSA mini 4.6K was on show for the first time and Richard Payne from Holdan was only too delighted to tell us all about the new camera.

phil bloom

(Photograph by Arnie Bloom)

Philip Bloom was at BVE doing a range of presentations and brought his mum and dad with him who are a delightful couple.

phil mum

bloom 80

Interestingly Philip had a Sony A7s Mk11 with one of the new cracking 85mm f1.4 Master G lenses, a must for all FS7 and FS5 users.

easy girl




BVE 2016 was a great show, people were there to buy all sorts of kit from LED lighting to cameras. Sony were the only manufacturer with no stand which was a very poor decision in my opinion. BVE is the only UK video show worth turning up to and if you can’t be bothered exhibiting then what message does that send out to your customers.

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

Sony’s new PXW-Z150 now with 4K

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150 title

Key features of the PXW-Z150 

  • 4K high quality shooting with a 1.0-type Exmor RS image sensor and premium G lens

The PXW-Z150 supports: 4K*1 XAVC Long maximum 100Mbps high quality shooting. The 1.0-type Exmor RS image sensor provides high sensitivity and high performance in low light environments. The high-speed read-out ensures high-speed motion shooting with minimum distortion. Videographers can deliver high resolution and contrast from the centre to the edge of the lens, with the high performance 4K-compatible 29-348mm wide-angle lens with 12x optical zoom.

  • Use on a wide range of applications with 120fps slow motion, rich recording format and network functions

The camcorder supports full HD 120fps continuous high-speed shooting, which enables 5x slow motion expression. High quality FHD XAVC Long 4:2:2 10bit 50Mbps and the broadcasting format MPEG2HD (50Mbps/35Mbps) are also supported. Users can take advantage of the advanced network functions – such as the camcorder’s built-in Wi-Fi for live streaming capabilities (QoS will be supported by a firmware update) and FTP wireless connections – to integrate wireless workflows, enabling users to keep pace with ever changing client deadlines.


  • High operability and rich interface, within a compact and lightweight body

The PXW-Z150 provides extended functionality with 3 independent lens rings, in addition to high visibility with wide view-angle and high contrast 0.39-type 1440K OLED viewfinder and 3.5-type 1550K LCD panel. Sony’s MI Shoe wireless microphone receivers are supported, increasing the mobility and limiting the need for external cables and multiple accessories. The camcorders rich interface includes: 3G-SDI, HDMI, XLR, Cold Shoe and REMOTE. In addition to this, dual media slots facilitate various recording options such as backup, simultaneous and relay recording.

Find out more about the PXW-Z150 here.

*1 4K (3840×2160) up to 30P is supported

*2 14.2 million effective pixels

*3 Using optional NP-F970 battery while recording XAVC 1080/50i or 60i, 50 Mbps with LCD on.

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

BVE 2016 Day 1

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Day one…quick trip to JVC to speak to John Kelly about the new firmware upgrade.


The new FW will add a further feature of slow motion at 120fps.


Kevin Cook formally worked for the Institute of Videography, before setting out as a freelancer has had a busy 2015-16.


Next it was a trip to Holdan and a talk with Richard Payne talking about Black Magics Mini Ursa 4.6K camera.


Data video showing off their integrated virtual studio.

3 chaps

Looking at the Panasonic DVX-200

new cam
Here is the new Panasonic VariCam LT

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

NEW Sigma adapter to Sony E mount

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Good news for Sony E mount owners by announcing the release of its new high-performance Sigma Global Vision lens converter – the Mount Converter MC 11 – for Sony E-mount, full frame and APS-C sensor cameras. With the new MC-11, Sony camera users will be able to utilize 19 Global Vision lenses in Sigma Canon Mount (EOS) and Sigma Mount (SA).

“There are many challenges to designing high-quality mount converter and topping the list is aptly handling phase detection AF in newer cameras and this is where the Sigma MC-11 is groundbreaking in its support for the Sony E-mount systems,” states Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “The new Sigma MC-11 mitigates complications with a purpose-built lens control data system engineered for maintaining superior AF functionality. So the growing number of Sony E-mount camera users who have been asking for more lens options, now have access to a large pool of lenses that fully embody Sigma’s signature quality and performance.”

sigma 2

The Sigma MC-11’s sleek LED display lets Sony users know if the attached Sigma lens is compatible and whether or not the MC-11 needs to be updated for that specific lens. Its internal control data system keeps detailed information on each compatible Sigma lens, automatically optimizing performance of AF drive, aperture control and other critical lens functions. The MC-11’s internal control data system also maintains continuity with key camera functions that control brightness and correct transverse chromatic aberration, distortion, and more. The complete compatibility with both Sigma lens OS and Sony in-camera OS ensures correction of camera shake and other stability issues and when used with in-camera stabilization, MC-11 allows angle shake correction in the lens. The integrated flocking helps prevent internal reflections and reduction in lens performance. In addition, the MC-11 retains important EXIF data ensuring users can analyze every detail of their lens setting.

The Sigma MC-11 converter can be updated with the latest compatible lens information from a workstation or laptop using the Sigma Optimization Pro software and Sigma USB Dock (sold separately).

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

BVE Specials from Production Gear

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Here is the website

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

JVC GY-LS300 update in April brings 120fps slow motion

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Me and 300

Once again JVC is adding value to the highly acclaimed GY-LS300 4K camcorder with a new firmware upgrade due in April.

JVC…”JVC has announced a new slow motion recording upgrade for the GY-LS300 4KCAM handheld Super 35 camcorder. Available via a free firmware upgrade in April, the high-speed mode records HD footage at up to 120 frames per second.

The technology also drives the Prime Zoom feature, which enables fixed-focal (prime) lenses to zoom in and out without losing resolution or depth of field. Other features include the J-Log gamma setting, which expands dynamic range by 800 percent with film-like latitude and a built-in HD streaming engine with Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity for live transmission to hardware decoders or content delivery networks (CDNs). The camera records 4K, HD and SD footage in a variety of formats to dual SDHC/SDXC card slots.”

Me from stair

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

H Preston Media’s BVE Promotions

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H Preston

Why not contact John and the lads at H Preston Media or email John at


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

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