First shoot with the Sony FS7

So NOW I’ve shot 2 days in real production with the FS7. After going through 4 x128GB XQD cards I have one word that comes to mind, Impressed.
I am one of those very picky DPs always having things I wish was better and more thought out as far as user friendliness goes. With the FS7 this really is minor stuff.
With the same sensor as the Sony F5, with Slog 3 (slog2 is coming) XAVC, 10 bit internal recording in 422 picture quality is what we’d expect. It really is an F5 in a slimmer package. The body is a magnesium chassi with dust and drip sealed buttons add connectors.
The air vent is kept separate for the internal components so not to get dust and liquids inside.
Handholding (which is what I shot 2 days straight) is superb. I can go all day long. We added the XDCA-FS7 extension back which adds TC in/out (switchable connector), Genoock in, RAW out, 12V hirose out, and 4pin XLR DC in. The back also allowed us to use V-lock batteries which balances the unit nicely. In a free firmware upgrade in the beginning of 2015 the hardware inside the unit will also add proRes recordings to the XQD cards. I would say this unit is also Almost a must to get good balance for handholding.
Since the camera only pulls 19W I went all day on one V-lock battery.
Controls are great and the handle out front works like a charm. 3 assign buttons, rec, zooms rocker (for the 28-135 f4) and a button to rotate the handle. It really makes for easy comfortable handholding.
The viewfinder is sharp and with the use of normal peaking at proper levels I had absolutely non problem pulling focus.
The dual XQD cards worked well and made for quick and easy offload. An SD slot makes for easy setup by saving setup files and adding LUTs etc.
We shot using Canon stills glass and Metabones adapter.

Positive positive positive. Are there any negatives. Yes but very few and pretty minor in most cases.
*Only 2 channels of audio input.
*The handle arm only swings one way and when you need to set the camera on the ground, which I did 20-30 times a day it sort of lays sideways on the ground. This unless you swing the arm all the way back and angle the handle EVERY time.
*The loupe is in the large-ish side. Works great though.
* The E mount seemed sturdy enough for the glass we used but will most likely need support for heavier lenses. Nothing new to most of us.

I am so impressed with the FS7. Sony has opened up to a whole new customer base as well with the price point of this camera. Is the f55 still a winner. Yes of course with global shutter, more options and connections but at a whole other price range. The 2000 orders in Europe and 1500 in the States must say something. ūüôā

Disclaimer: No one asked me to write this post, nor have I got payed to express any positive opinions about how the FS7. Although I am a Sony ICE I am free to say anything I want and I am not employed by Sony.

Offload CF cards

CFreader2

Today I tried a new thing I ordered online which would allow me to connect a CF card to my thunderbolt SATA interface reader. ¬†I was hoping this would shave a little time when offloading big CD cards like 64GB or 128GB. If you’re one for short and sweet posts, here it is: big FAIL.

Basically the little red thing is a CD card slot which I connected to my Seagate thunderbolt reader.

On a full 32GB card it took the CF card reader 16 min 30 sec while it only took 5 min 20sec on my Kingston USB3 reader. ¬†So it was good in theory but a miserable fail in real life. ¬†I also, for fun, tried moving 35GB from an SSD through the thunderbolt reader to my internal drive on my macbook pro. ¬†1 min!!! ūüôā

cf reader3
Huge fail 16:30 for a full 32GB card
cf reader4
The clear winner emptying a FULL 32GB card in 5:20min

 

CamRanger

Today I decided to try the CamRanger. It is small, relatively inexpensive unit which controls your DSLR from an iPad Android Tablet or phone.  It works both for video and stills and turns your ipad/tablet into a control surface.  Since you have all camera controls as well as a live picture this essentially turns your iPad into a touch sensitive monitor. You can choose a focus point and there is even a setting which turns on a focus assist feature painting red little dots around areas in focus.  Live histogram helps you judge exposure.

camranger4
Live histogram to help with exposure.

The Camranger hooks up via USB to your camera and creates its own WiFi network to which you connect your phone/iPad/tablet. Connection is really easy.

There is a delay of 9 frames since the signal is processed and sent via WiFi. ¬†9 frames is a lot if you’re trying to operate fast moving stuff video, but not really a problem for table tops or locked off pack shots for example.

This would also make a great option for controlling a DSLR camera mounted to a car rig or a crane. ¬†Do all your settings from a comfortable position, like focus, white balance and exposure. Double tap the screen for a close up of focus area. ¬†Being able to change exposure for a camera mounted to the front of the car has never been this easy with a DSLR before…

For still shooters you can use this device as a wireless tether while on location or a studio. ¬†Hand the iPad to a client and turn on “client mode” which removes control of the camera but streams pictures to the tablet as there being shot. ¬†Lightroom can be used to auto import from a folder making this an affordable wireless tether.

There is also features such as focus stacking, intervalometer and HDR built in to the app.   Switching between stills and video is as easy as touching the screen.  Being locked off on a really long lens, sensitive to movement, how nice is it to start/stop or snap pictures by touching a button on your ipad.

The Camranger has a built in (removable) rechargeable battery and can also be powered by an external battery pack with USB connection. According to the manufacturer the battery time is roughly 5-6hrs for normal usage.  The unit is plastic and only time will tell how well it stands up to professional use but it seems pretty solid.

camranger5
Plastic but feels solid

You also have full access to your CF or SD card in the camera. You can browse and import photos right to your iPad library. Leave your computer at home and still be able to send pictures via phone/tablet.

Conslusion: This little device to really impressed me. $300 to get access to all of your camera controls, wirelessly and with a built in battery is pretty sweet. ¬†I remember laying on the ground in the snow trying to see/change camera setting for a DSLR mounted on the outside of a car or a camera placed in a tight hard to reach place. ¬†Being able to control all that from an iPad is worth the price alone. ¬†Only downside I see is the USB connection but that is more of a camera issue…

 

 

camranger3
Focus assist turned ON
camranger2
CamRanger connected to my 1Dc

camranger1

DISCLAIMER:  No one asked me to write anything in this post and I bought the unit at at market price.

 

 

Sony software and Mac OS X Mavericks

I am about to buy a new Mac laptop but as the brand new Late 2013, retina MacBook Pro is preinstalled with OS X Mavericks (and may not be able to roll back to Lion or Mountain Lion) I am wondering what kind of software conflicts I may run into… ¬† My main concern is for work related software such as Sony XDCam transfer, Sony Content Browser as well as a few other applications. I couldn’t find that much information on the net about this so I decided to do a quick test.

I installed OS X Mavericks on my home server, a Mac Mini late 2011.  I then installed XDcam transfer as well as Sony Content Browser 2.02.

Both Applications seem to work fine.  I can add a disc image (from XDCamHD422 optical Disc 1080 25p) and view and import clips in both applications.  This was not an extensive test of all features but simply a test to see if the software starts up and runs correctly.

Great news and is one check mark toward a new computer.

Content Browser1

 

 

Disclaimer:  No one asked me to write this or post any findings.   Ethics Statement

Importing XDcam optical disc

Today I tried a couple of different methods of importing XDCam HD422 into Premiere Pro CC directly from the PDW-700 camera.  The latest firmware 1.83 on the camera and latest available version on all software. I used the same optical disc for all software, a dual layer disc filled with 13GB of data, 36 clips.

Method 1: ¬†The great, very simple to use, free XDCam Transfer. ¬†It has been rock solid ¬†for so long and I’ve installed it on so many producer’s laptops I’ve lost count. ¬†It took 25 seconds to add disc and get all thumbnails pictures! ¬†Full timecode display and option of audio channels to import and sub clip choice.

Method 2:  The new Sony Content browser 2.2.  This is the new all in one media importer set to replace XDcam transfer ( as well as EX clipBrowser, PDZ-1, PDZ-VX10) in importing MpegHD as well as handling all Sony formats from SD to XAVC 2k and QFHD.
It was very slow and took 1 minute just to add 10 empty clip boxes without thumbnail pictures. It took 4 min 15 sec!!!  to get the 36 thumbnail with pictures to show up.  Why its so slow I have no idea, especially compared to the already exitsting XDCam Transfer.  I will check this with Sony and post back.

Method 3: ¬†Adobe Prelude. ¬†Couldn’t get it to work. Crashed 4 times.

Sooooo. My test ended early I saw no reason to import the footage. ¬†I tried 1 clip with the Content browser which seems about as fast as I know the XDCam transfer to be. ¬†But waiting 4+ minutes to get 36 thumbnails to show up is a no go for me. ¬†Imagine a full 50GB disc with 130 clips on it…

Also I am perplexed as to why Sony is charging ‚ā¨16 to buy a license. ¬†I agree ‚ā¨16 is nothing in comparison to other cost in this industry but more of a hassle. ¬†When I work with optical disc I always have a USB drive with the free XDCam transfer (or PDZ-VX10) with me, ready to install on a clients computer for logging purposes. ¬†Will I now have to BUY licenses for every time I want to do this?? ¬†I would rather see Sony give this software away for FREE and hope everyone installs it on every machine available, that way you can always view Sony content wherever you are… ūüôā

There are of course other way of importing XDcam optical disc for editing such as the 1500 or 1600 deck or the PDWU1 or U2, which may work faster or better , but I needed to test from-camera-import.

Wireless Bluetooth follow focus

At the trade show in Gothenburg the other day I saw a really nice follow focus rig/follow iris from Hedén Engineering. Hedén motors are known for the quality and reliability and now they are extending their line up with a complete package including a single channel control unit and receiver.

The control unit has back lit scale rings, smooth turns with adjustable drag and no external antenna.

Control unit
Control unit

This is a bluetooth device but with the newest Bluetooth 4 standard. It has a 100m (300ft) range. The receiver unit is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. The setup was a snap and it took all of a few seconds for the units to pair up. There is one-touch scaling button to easily set up to any lens. One of the nice things with this for example, is being able to scale the very short throw of a stills/DSLR lens over the whole turn of the controller dial. This will allow you a much greater control of the lens, despite the short throw of the lens.
You can also very quickly setup 2 points, a start point and and end point, for an easy rack focus.

What really got me was the enormous precision of motor in relation to the follow focus dial. It was really really accurate and the tiniest move transferred over the bluetooth into the motor and onto the lens. According to Heden there are 204800 “points” on each turn of the motor. Therefor the precision is a few hundreds of a millimeter per “step”. So in short, very accurate.
I can see this unit as a great solution for folks using stills lenses on their cameras. Scale the controller to the stills lens and get a much greater throw on the lens.

Bluetooth reciever
Bluetooth reciever
Bluetooth reciever mounted on a Sony F3
Bluetooth reciever mounted on a Sony F3

You can also skip the receiver and connect the controller via cable directly to the motor. The handcontrol runs on a Canon 5d battery and last 3-4 hrs. It is, as all things worth having, a bit pricy at roughly $6 200 but quality costs… Would love to get ahold of a unit and do some real world testing.

 

More Canon 1DC

So today I got to spend another couple of hours with the 1DC. ¬†I wish I could spend a whole week full time playing with this camera, but other things call on me as well… ūüôā ¬†My impression is still Wow. ¬†This camera puts out a really nice image. I’ve shot mostly in daylight outside today but also some interior shots.

We’ll start outdoors. Everything shot in Canon Log. ¬†Very nice dynamic range. Hard tough light and great test conditions. ¬†Sunlit snow and shadows. ¬†All images are shot with sharpening set to 0, unless otherwise noted in the caption. ¬†There is some banding in the sky. ¬†UPDATE: ¬†Confirmed by several sources this is more apparent when shooting below 400 ISO.

Canon1Dc_08
Ungraded. Shot at iso100, f10, 0.9 ND. A foam core bounce. ¬†The clear ice on the right is clipped and could’t be saved.
Some quick adjustments and a little sharpen.
Some quick adjustments and a little sharpen.

 

Canon1Dc_09
Hard sun, no diffusion, no fill on right side.
Canon1Dc_09_GR
Hard sun, no diffusion, no fill on right side. A quick contrast adjustment and slight post sharpen.

I also wanted to know what sharpen (in Canon Log meny) would do to the image. ¬†A lot, it would show. ¬†The +2 setting really made a big difference in sharpening, almost to the point that next to the image with no sharpening, it looked too sharp and electronic. +4 I can’t think of any use for and then the scale goes all the way up to +7… ¬† ¬†I wish in retrospect I would have tried 0,1,2 instead of 0,2,4.

Sharpen 0
Sharpen 0
Sharpen +2
Sharpen +2
0 Sharpen
0 Sharpen
+2 Sharpen
+2 Sharpen
+4 Sharpen
+4 Sharpen

The camera really has a lot of latitude and plays really nice with the sun and the snow.

Interior shots.  1 light (2K openface through 216) no fill.

f4, ISO200, 0 Sharp
f4, ISO200, 0 Sharp

Here are 2 frames shot at ISO 6400.

0 sharpen, IOS6400
0 sharpen, IOS6400
+3 sharpen, IOS6400
+3 sharpen, IOS6400

I just really like the images this camera delivers. The Canon Log does a nice job of holding highlights outdoors and seeing into the shadows. ¬†Will try and NR the 6400 footage above. ¬†There is a little red creeping into some of the images but nothing that can’t be fixed. ¬†With the ND could be a bit of IR pollution as well. ¬†I would shoot with 0 sharpening and sharpen in post or perhaps try with +1.

As always when trying new gear: You want MORE time! ūüôā

One more thing that impressed me were the 8megapixel still I was able to pull from the footage.  To be able to do frame grabs with that resolution will be a great new advantage of working with 4K.

Everyone is so quick to judge stuff nowadays. ¬†Equipment especially and lots of judging simply by specs and whats on a piece of paper. ¬†The 1DC. ¬†Yes it is a Jpeg compressed 8 bit 422 image maker costing $12K. ¬† Is there noise at higher ISO’s? Sure. ¬†Does it have real audio connectors? No. ¬† But seriously, does it all this matter if you are able to produce a really nice looking image using lights and a decent stop? No it doesn’t matter. It is funny but nowadays some people are almost disapointed when they can’t shoot a clean image without noise, with no lights at 25 600 ISO… ūüôā

All images are exported as .DPX out of Premiere and the images above as saved as .JPG (Qual 12) in photoshop.

These “tests” are totally unscientific and are just for me to get a sence of what this camera is capable of. There was no mattebox and filters were held up against lens. No monitor or view finder. ¬†¬†All views are my own and no one asked me to do this on their behalf.

For .DPX files and from-camera-video-clips go to link below. If you grade and repost please credit source:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/s9f5pmnfi3rvoud/40OVBuP-6V

Thanks to Scandinavian Photo Malmö for your assistance.  Thanks also Fredric Tirheden for helping out today.

 

Canon 1DC

First look Canon 1DC
My first look at the Canon 1DC Photo: Martin Heleander

So today I got my hands on the 1DC from Canon. It is the newest flagship DSLR with 1080p as well as internal 4K video. All the specs on this beauty you’ll find here. It has clean 1080 HD out via the HDMI port for use with external recorders, but the real draw here, and what would justify the $12 000 price tag, is the internal Motion Jpeg compressed 4K files. The files are stored at a 500 mbit/s data rate (60MB/s) and this means you’ll need lots and lots of really fast CF cards. The Lexar 1000x is whats available right now to tame this beast.

Canon 1DC

Today was only a first initial hands-on, more playtime tomorrow but my first reaction is: Wow! I shot some side by side 1080 files, which in comparison to the 4K files, look like SD does to HD…

All images were shot with Canon Log, 0 detail, no hue or saturation adjustment. Camera set to aut white balance (no external monitor or mattebox used, ND was hand held to lens)

 

Canon1Dc_06
24-70/2,8II, 24mm, ISO 100, f11
Canon1Dc_04
70-200/2,8II 200mm ISO 200 f4 with 0,9ND

 

Canon1Dc_02
24-70/2,8II, ISO200, 24mm, f11, 0.9ND

 

 

Canon1Dc_01
24-70/2,8II, 24mm, ISO200, f5,6, 0.9ND

 

24-80/2,8II,  24mm ISO 200, f8, 0.9ND
24-80/2,8II, 24mm ISO 200, f8, 0.9ND, Shot to preserve highlights of sun into clouds.

 

The images above are all shot using either a Canon 24-70 2.8II or the Canon 70-200 2.8II. They are compressed in Jpeg. All images are available as .DPX files exported directly out of Premiere Pro.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/s9f5pmnfi3rvoud/40OVBuP-6V

More to come on this camera.  HERE IS MORE.

 

 

TheNewF – Line up

So the day is finally here. I got the privilege to hear about all the details last week and have been hard pressed to keep quiet. I really think Sony is going to change things up quite a bit with this announcement. The F5, the F55 and upgrades to FS700 and the F65. According to Sony 4K is here to stay and I am becoming a believer.

Sony F5

I don’t even know where to start with this to be honest, there is so much. I guess I can start with the new Codec known as XAVC which is a new 10bit 4k codec. It’s a intra frame and Long GOP codec allowing for both 4K and 1080/50p files as well as “regular” HD. Then…. I think what most people anticipated for #TheNewF was an upgrade to the F3. Well there is now the Sony F5 and F55. Both cameras have an S35mm 4K CMOS sensor with PL mount (with PL/FZ mount adapter). Both cameras are built on a modular design to make everything as streamlined as possible. There is even a new battery system developed by Sony that fits this modular design. Even more, there is new recording media released that has a docking slot that fits into the modular design of both the F5 and F55, all without cables!! On top of this, I know it never ends, there are new professional view finder options as well as a 30′ LCD 4K monitor. Ohhhh I almost forgot there is the 6 lenses, T2.0, metal housing with a 240 degree throw!

Ok so lets try and break this down just a little.

The F5 and F55 are both 4K sensor cameras. 14 stops of DR! Slog2 gamma and hypergamma modes. Both deliver in a multi codec environment with both the established Mpeg2/HD422/50mbit as well as the new XAVC directly to the SxS cards. The F5 does 120fps XAVC HD and the F55 180fps XAVC HD both to internal SxS Pro+. ONLY THE F55 will record 4K to the internal cards, using the new XAVC codec, but it will also store MPEG2 HD422 files, perfect for offline editing. The F5 will need the external 4K recorder to deliver 4k images.
The F55 will also shoot 240fps 2K RAW to the new external recorder, AXS-R5. This new recorder (fitting both F5 and F55) will simply snap to the back of the camera like a battery and the attachment is cable free. The AXS-R5 is a RAW 2K and 4K recorder (16bit linear) storing up to 60p in 4K and 240 in 2K. It uses a 2,4Gbits new media card with capacities up to 512GB. The F55 also has a global shutter and a wider color gamut than the F5 and more like the F65.

Modular design of Sony F5 and F55

;

One thing I’ve been waiting for since we got our F3 is a real HD viewfinder. Well now there are 2 new viewfinders and one 7 inch onboard monitor.
The top of the line VF is a 0.7” 1280 x 720 OLED DVF-EL100 which will work on F5/F55/F65 and is said to deliver an outstanding clarity.
The next choice is a DVF-L350, a 960 x 540 pixel LCD VF with a flip-up display.
And to finish off is a high brightness (1000cd/m2) 7” FullHD, LCD

DVF-EL100 1280 x 720 VF
DVF-EL100 1280 x 720 VF

;

The Lenses. I am personally really excited about this. Sony has announced 6 PL mount prime lenses T2.0 all metal housing. This could of course be re-housed still lenses, but that doesn’t mean its bad optics; other PL mount lenses are known to be just that. Exciting indeed. No price point yet that I know of.

TheNewF meant more than the release of the F5 and F55. It also meant an upgrade/advancement of the FS700 and the all mighty F65.
The F65 will get a v3.0 upgrade with “Advanced de-mosaicing at 6K or 8K even with RAW files captured to-date” and “120P 8K capture, totally unique feature”
The FS700 will among other things finally get 4K RAW output to the AXS-R5.

I think the announcement of the new XAVC codec is really exciting. It is a 8/10bit codec allowing for intra/long GOP coding as well as 4K, 1080/50p as well as 1080/25p. It is said to wedge in between the top of the line HDCAM SR and the existing HD422 50Mbits format. I can’t wait to see what it really looks like.

I also really like the modular design of everything. Batteries, recorders and camera is now one unit without any cables. The rigs nowadays are big and cumbersome and cables everywhere. Can the integrated electronics save a few cables that is great news I think. The new batteries for the Fseries are promising a longer running time and a 2x high speed charging.

I am going to the US to cover the election on thursday but the thought crossed my mind to cancel and go to the UK Sony Roadshow instead. Will try my best to get a look at these cameras as soon as I can.

There was no talk to pricing last week, but my guess is the F5 will last slightly higher than the F3 at $16k, which will still be available, and the F55 perhaps 20K above the F5 to protect the 4K internal recording, global shutter and higher frame rates. Products are available in end of January.

Lots of more information will of course come out in the next few weeks and it will be interesting to see the first images from these cameras, since after all that is what we use them for….

Wow how long is my Christmas list now…

;

Disclaimer: No one asked me to write this post, no one has payed to write anything in regards to this. I do not work for Sony. I was privy to information about the release early as I am sure lots of other working professionals with contacts were. Images in the post are from a Sony release

PMW200 Backfocus update

Sony just released new firmware to help resolve the backfocus issue on the PMW200 which has been seen on certain cameras.  Travel and movent to the camera body can sometimes misalign the focus mechanism inside the camera.  This firmware upgrade adds a feature to re-align it again.  Its an easy upgrade and only takes a few minutes.

You close the LCD, set gain to H and simultaneously hold down the scroll wheel (select/set), MENY and CANCEL. This will bring up a deeper mainenence meny.  Find FB Adjust and execute.  Do with using a siemens focus star of something similar at about 10ft (3m) aimed directly at the target.  The software will do this all by itself let you know when finished.

 

Doing this fixes the problem of the 2 cameras I tested to 95%.  I can still see a slight slight focus shift in EXPANDED FOCUS while shooting wide open,  but I think this is within specs on a lens like this.   This sets my mind at ease and I would not hold back on buying this camera on account of any focus issue but I would certainly check the back focus with the meny setting above.

 

Here is a link to the firmware