First Major Camera Review for 9 Months the Panasonic HC-X1 (4K 50p)

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This will be my first major video review for 9 months since my stroke and what better way to start the ball rolling with Panasonic’s newest 4K 50p camcorder the HC-X1. My thanks to the team at Holdan for giving me this opportunity to review this camcorder.


This is a very interesting camcorder from Panasonic as it is made beside the AG-AX180 has all the same specifications less SDI and timecode-in plus a price tag of £1000 less than the AX180. Very few camcorders have 4K 50p remembering this will down convert on an HD timeline as 10bit 422 footage and reduce any grain in the process.

With all the same professional features like phantom powered XLRs, a 24mm wide 20x zoom (HD) and an exceptional viewfinder I am really looking forward to bring you my findings on this camera, plus the added bonus of using affordable SDXC cards.

Everything will be shot in 4K and my review will be uploaded in 4K YouTube, that way you get to see all the features from the camera, I will also upload an HD version as there are specific HD only features like the 100 fps slow mo feature. (HD only)

Record simultaneously into two different formats, Main (UHD/FHD) and Sub (FHD). Sub-recording files can be used for preview, off-line editing and online transmission. FHD (8 Mbps) sub-recording files can be transmitted via mobile networks.

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

ADVERT…Black Friday Specials from Production Gear

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PRICE JUST DROPPED AGAIN !!! This is an offer you can’t refuse if you are doing 2 camera shoots vision mixed, taking your final output into the video assist will give you 10-bit 4:2:2 quality ProRes or DNxHD files on SD cards…from £705 down to £507…WOW.(£423 ex vat).

Video Assist 4K features a 7” high resolution screen, two high speed recorders for non-stop Ultra HD recording, XLR mic inputs, a built in speaker and more! The larger screen is 1920 x 1200, so you can see a full 16:9 image without the status bar covering the picture. Video Assist 4K features the latest high speed UHS-II SD card recorders and can record 1080 HD as well as Ultra HD up to 2160p30 on low cost, readily available SD cards! You also get two extremely low noise professional analog mini XLR connections so you can bypass low quality DSLR audio and connect professional microphones directly.


Click the black box below to take you to all the Black Friday offers…


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

Jill Keane retires from the video industry after 40 years

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I have come across Jill in many guises mainly as a sales manager at Holdan. What a lovely knowledgeable lady she is and if Jill did not know the answer to a question she soon got the right person who did.

Jill started with National Panasonic as they were known in the early days and eventually got a sales managers job at Holdan just under 10 years ago.

Jill will be missed around Holdan especially at their new corporate headquarters with even more studio and demonstration space. Jill “I have been very happy at Holdan but the time has come to move on and spend well earned rest and time with my hubby”.



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

Interesting addition for sound recordists from Tascam £181

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A backup recorder for radio mic systems or a simple audio recorder for weddings. Many a time in the past colleagues of mine would insert a mini disk into a grooms inside pocket with a small tie clip mic to record the vows, now Tascam have made life easy with this new digital DRC-10C audio recorder.

TASCAM’s DR-10C-series recorders connect to your lavaliere microphone to create a compact recording system that fits on a belt pack. Two versions are available: the DR-10CS for Sennheiser mics and DR-10CH for Shure microphones. Additionally, option kits are available for Sony/RAMSA (AK-DR10CR.) and Shure (AK-DR10CH)

The DR-10CS & CH recorders have both inputs and outputs, so they can either be used stand-alone or with a wireless transmitter. When used with a transmitter, the DR-10C acts as a backup to protect against wireless dropouts during recording. For lectures or worship services, the DR-10C can record the entire program before it gets to the front of house system. And for events like weddings and reality TV production, the DR-10C is a compact recording system for body mics.

The lightweight DR-10C runs for hours on a single AAA battery. It records to standard microSD media. Recording features include auto-gain and a low-cut filter for simple setup. Its dual recording feature records a safety track of your audio at a lower level, so in case of distortion you have a non-clipped backup. When multiple units are used, an infrared signal can synchronize settings between recorders.

Whether using it as a backup or as a primary recording system, there’s nothing else like the TASCAM DR-10CS and CH.

Tascam DR-10C – Instantly Back Up Your Wireless Audio Recordings from cinema5D on Vimeo.

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

New MacBook Pro Touchbar Review from an editors point of view

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This is typical of Apple today, they bring out a new iPhone 7 with “NO” headphone jack and now the latest insult – a so called PRO laptop with “NO” USB or SD card reader.

Shocking…Apple are so far away from their users it beggars belief if they even care anymore. They bring out a new “PRO” laptop without any USB or SD card slots and expect PRO users to buy extra add ons to make it happen…its a joke; extra add ons that you could mistakenly leave in a hurry and a Christmas tree of cables all to make this laptop “NORMAL”. Casey Neistat nails it for me with his user review and his cheeky way of telling a story.

Apple, get a grip of yourselves. This MacBook Pro is a JOKE…The core users are up in arms because of your minimalistic nonsense and to expect PRO users to buy add ons to get at least a simple USB is downright irresponsible.

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

Panasonic VariCam LT shines on a dark night

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London based production company Pundersons Gardens has completed the first production in Europe using the Panasonic VariCam LT’s recently introduced RAW recording capability and Convergent Design integration.

Provided and set up by leading rental provider VMI, the night shoot was a music promo video for UK grime artist Trim who recently signed James Blake’s 1-800 Dinosaur label, and was directed by Chris Read and shot by Pundersons Gardens co-founder Jeremy Valender. 

The production was shot entirely with vintage two anamorphic Cineovision lenses to give a filmic look, and makes use of the VariCam’s RAW recording capability and Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q RAW integration with the new HD Titan Extract firmware release. The integration was recently enabled as part of a September 2016 firmware update, announced at IBC 2016.

“We did some initial low light tests with a number of cameras, and I was shocked at how good the camera was. We shot using only the available light at night, and most of the time we spent blocking light out rather than trying to add more, because we just didn’t need it,” said Valender.

Shot entirely at 5000 ISO at native 4K, the 16:9 RAW output was then de-squeezed in post-production to create the 2.66:1 final version, with monitoring on set de-squeezed via the Odyssey 7Q. 

Connected to the VariCam LT via its built-in 3G-SDI terminals, the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q recorder/monitor used by Valender has a trigger recording functionality, allowing the external recorder and camera to automatically start recording simultaneously with matching timecodes.

“The low light performance was the primary reason for choosing the LT, and the 5000 ISO function was like shooting at 800 on any other camera as regards to noise. The other thing that surprised me was the amount of colour – especially with the low light, a lot of other cameras’ colours wash out a little bit, but the LT’s strong colour saturation gave us a lot to work with in post,” added Valender.

“The quality achieved by full 12 bit RAW capture from the Panasonic VariCam LT to RAW-enabled Odyssey 7Q recorders has not been available before at this budget level and this is something that we are very excited about for our high-end clients,” added Barry Bassett, VMI’s Managing Director.

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

Comparison between the Sony UWP-D16/K42 and the RODE Newsshooter kit

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We compare the two radio mic systems from Sony and RODE on a video review with the RODE NTG-4. There is one killer feature on the RODE system that I will reveal during my video review. Please note as usual paid work comes first.

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

Panasonic GH5 tentative pricing (£1,550-£1,700)

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The UK price will hopefully be around the same price when the GH4 arrived just under two years ago…£1550 – £1700. Remember although it has an impressive 10bit 422 colour space this will not be available in 4K 50p mode. I bought the 12-60 lens with my GH4R and its a great lens apart from the f3.5-5.6 aperture, this was a major disappointment after the f2.8 constant aperture 12-35mm lens. No info on a dual card slot, but with Olympus at their heals hopefully Panasonic have added a dual card slot.


The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk11 (£1,849) has a dual card slot, 4K and a very good stabiliser plus a headphone and mic socket. I have 5 Olympus lenses (3 Pro) and they are the best money can buy.

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

SONY FS7 Mk11 (£10,020 body only)

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Sony is expanding its FS Series Super 35mm professional family with the addition of the new FS7 II camcorder. The new model builds on the original FS7’s strengths by adding advanced features including Electronic Variable ND technology, a lever lock type E-mount, and a new mechanical design for faster and easier set-up.

Since its introduction in 2014, the FS7 has become one of the most widely used cameras in a range of production applications, and the original model remains in the Sony line-up. The new FS7 II now gives creative professionals a broader range of creative tools, with new features all based on end user feedback.

The new FS7 II camcorder is designed for long-form shooting and production applications, especially for documentaries and independent filmmaking. Amongst the many enhancements outlined below, the FS7 II can also record in BT2020 colour space, hence making it ideal for today’s 4K broadcast productions.


Electronic Variable ND Technology

The camcorder’s Electronic Variable ND Filter system, combined with its large sensor, delivers greater exposure control, with the option of preset or variable operation modes. Variable ND mode (clear + 2~7 stop range, in seamless transition steps up to 1/128) allows the user to vary the density of the ND filter during shooting and to transition seamlessly between steps. This also ensures an optimum motion delivery by maintaining desired shutter speed.

The camera’s expanded ND operations enables fine exposure adjustment by relegating iris to set depth of field, prevents soft focus caused by diffraction, and prevents colour shift caused by stacking multiple external ND filters.

The camera can compensate for exposure fluctuation caused by iris control while adjusting the depth of field. Users can adjust exposure while keeping the same bokeh in changing shooting or lighting environments.

Preset mode lets users assign three ND settings to the filter turret, useful in selecting the most appropriate filtration range for changing light conditions, for example. Auto ND mode is also available allowing exposure to stay at a fixed level while adjusting the depth of field with iris control.

E-mount (Lever Lock type) for professional shooting

The FS7 II revisited E-mount (lever lock type) gives users the ability to change lenses by rotating the locking collar rather than the lens itself, which means that in most cases lens support rigs don’t need to be removed, saving time during a production. The new E-Mount has been designed for demanding applications in the professional environment and will fit any existing E-mount lenses in the market and other mount lenses with an adapter.  The new FS7 II camcorder also supports Sony α Mount System, which includes more than 70 lenses.

Mechanical Design Enhancements

Like its counterparts in the FS Series family – the FS7 and FS5 models – the new FS7 II features several design and ergonomic updates for comfortable and functional use in the field. These new features are based customer feedback around the FS7.

The FS7 II “tool-less” mechanical design lets users make on-the-fly changes to the camera’s set-up and operation. For example, no tools are required to adjust the Smart Grip or viewfinder positions.

The detachable viewfinder eyepiece, which comes with a pop-up hood, provides a third stabilizing contact point when shooting handheld. Durable square section rods and lever-clamps on the LCD and camera body provide simple and precise front-to-back VF adjustment while retaining level positioning.


New Sony 18-110mm Sony G lens

Sony also introduced a new E-mount, Super 35mm lens specifically designed for documentary and motion picture production.

The new lens, model E PZ 18-110mm F4 G OSS, covers Super35mm and APS-C sensors. Compact and lightweight — 2.4 lbs (1.1Kg) — with an 18 to 110 focal range (6x zoom) it uses a new fully mechanical/servo zoom switchable system, capable of snap zooms and entirely devoid of lag. The focal range is optimised for Super 35 and APS-C sensors.

The lens is compatible with Sony α Mount System cameras, including the α7 series interchangeable-lens cameras and professional Super 35mm 4K camcorders like the FS7 or FS5. Although perfectly suited for still image taking, filmmakers will fully appreciate the lens’ extended creative capabilities for shooting motion images.

The lens benefits Smooth Motion Optics (SMO) design from Sony, which is developed to optimise performance during motion image capture. This lens design eliminates undesirable characteristics and artifacts that do not affect still image taking, but can severely limit a lens’ usefulness for motion shooting, such as:

  • Ramping: F stop gradually diminishes when zooming tight
  • Not holding focus while zooming
  • Breathing (angle of view variation while focusing)
  • Optical axis shift (image moves in the frame while zooming)

*Due to a change in the SELP18110G specifications it is no longer compatible with the SEL14TC and SEL20TC teleconverters.

XQD Cards

The FS7 II supports the XQD memory card format, designed for capturing and transferring high-bandwidth, high resolution files. The newest XQD card from Sony, QD-G256E — with an industry first 256 GB capacity — enables recording time of approximately 45 minutes at 4K 60P and 3.5 hours at 2K 30P. Combined with a read speed of 440MB/s and write speed 400MB/s, users can shoot for longer without needing to change media cards.

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

ADVERT…Production Gear have the new Rode Newsshooter Kits in stock £409

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If you produce news for television you can’t be without one of these especially since the RODE version is 100% digital and takes Sony “L” batteries. A word of warning for my professional colleagues, the receiver needs one extra accessory called a VXLR to go from 3.5 mini jack to XLR, make sure you order one with your kit.

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

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