Monday, January 26, 2015

New Panasonic GH4 v2.1 firmware update is great for Shogun & 25p shooters - everyone else, not so much



As you have probably read elsewhere, Panasonic released firmware updates v2.1 for the GH4 and v1.1 for the YAGH last night.   You can download these updates here.

Along with a couple of other minor fixes, the headline updates add timecode and a start/stop command to HDMI out when the camera and/or YAGH are connected to the Atomos Shogun.

Panasonic has also added 30p and 25p native output to HDMI at 1080p - a big deal for 25p shooters.

This is great news for owners (and potential owners) of the $1995 Atomos Shogun - and for shooters in PAL areas, especially Europe.

But it is a little disappointing for the rest of us.

While Panasonic fixes the GH4's compatibility issues with Shogun, other 4K camera manufacturers (e.g., Blackmagic and Samsung) are moving ahead with more substantive fixes and upgrades.  And the Sony A7s remains the only camera in this class with a LOG profile.

To stay competitive, Panasonic might want to aim the next GH4 update at fixing more fundamental problems for the entire user base - such as:
  • Lack of a LOG profile.  GH4 shooters need a flat, gradeable profile we can dial in without having to memorize a bunch of sharpness, saturation, contrast and master pedestal settings. Without a LOG profile, the GH4 is less competitive with the Sony A7s and S-LOG2.

  • Single, fixed 4K/24p frame rate. Blackmagic added 4K/80p to the URSA after release. 4K/60p for the GH4 would be nice, but I'd even take UHD/60p.

  • Single, fixed autofocus speed. The GH4 needs a variable video autofocus speed control to make autofocus plane changes less jarring. Samsung added this feature to the NX1 after release.

In my view, firmware update strategy has become an arms race.  The manufacturer that can match or outpace its competitors in this race over time will maintain leadership in the marketplace.  Those that are slow to respond are likely to lose out to more agile companies.

The GH4 is a great camera, and still a very good value for the money, but Panasonic needs a more competitive firmware update strategy.

If the company isn't careful, the GH4 could become this era's "AF100" - a camera that invents a whole new category - and is then eclipsed by more agile competitors.

As always, if anything here has helped you to make a purchase decision, please shop using the links above or the displays below and in the margins. And even if you're not in the market for a new camera, please comment and make suggestions below. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Finally - sample video from the new $4450 "4K" MFT mount Super 35 JVC GY-LS300




After its introduction and a press release from JVC a couple of months ago, we haven't heard much about this camera.  With its Super 35mm sensor, micro 4/3 interchangeable lens mount, UHD/30p or UHD/24p recording, internal 4:2:2, dual card slots, 3 built in ND filters, shotgun mic, XLR jacks, top handle and camcorder form factor, the LS300 has remained a tantalizing prospect.

This was especially true since JVC priced it at just $4450, the lowest price point ever for a Super 35mm "4K" camcorder and only about $500 more than it would cost to buy a $3297 GH4/YAGH combo plus the $599 Metabones Speed Booster/Focal Reducer the GH4 needs in order to mimic a Super 35 crop.

With a GH4, however, you would still need to buy the top handle, ND filter and mic.  And dual card slots are not an option.

That said, we have seen impressive 4K video from the GH4 - but we have had no idea what kind of images the LS300 would produce - and JVC wasn't talking.

Well, that's starting to change.  JVC announced a few days ago that they would take the LS300 to Sundance this week to show it off to independent filmmakers  - and rental house Delimex in Belgium has the camera in stock and has produced a slick narrative style short to promote it.

Here's the video (hat tip to Philip Johnston, the HD Warrior, for the find):





Sadly, the clip is downscaled to 1080p HD, so we don't get the full benefit of Ultra HD - and there's not much motion, so we can't tell whether the sensor has a challenge with CMOS skew - but the skin tones look natural, the blacks seem to hold up in low light and the bokeh is gorgeous.

This is the first JVC camera that looks to be competitive with sub-$10,000 large sensor, interchangeable lens 4K/UHD camcorders from Sony, Blackmagic, Aja, and Kinefinity.  And its feature set and UHD resolution make the $4499 1080p-only dual pixel Canon C100 look overpriced.

Note that Panasonic is MIA from this list. Unfortunately for Panasonic, since Sony's NEX-FS100 trumped their AG-AF100 back in 2010, the company seems to have ceded this market to its competitors.

With the introduction of the Varicam 35, GH4, FS1000 and LX100 in 2014, Panasonic is now competitive at both the low end and the high end  - but they left a huge gap in the middle, and JVC has driven through it with a truck.

It is long past time for Panasonic to replace the aging AF100 with a modern large sensor camcorder - but the market will not wait for them.

Personally, I'm saving my nickels for a sub-$10,000 4K Super 35 camcorder, and right now, the LS300 is one of the top contenders, along with the $5995 Blackmagic URSA and its global shutter.

As always, if anything here has helped you to make a purchase decision, please shop using the links above or the displays below and in the margins. And even if you're not in the market for a new camera, please comment and make suggestions below. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And for the latest deals, news, tips and techniques, please follow HCR on BloggerTwitter and YouTube and circle us on Google+.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Unbelievable clearance price on Panasonic G6 w kit lens - $399.99!





One of the best of the entry level still/hybrid mirrorless cameras, the Panasonic G6, is being marked down seriously on closeout.  Last week, Samy's was selling it for $499.99 (now sold out) - and this week, it's at BestBuy via eBay for $399.99 plus $2.99 postage.  They are sold out at BestBuy online, so the eBay stock won't last long.



This terrific little camera has big camera features such as focus peaking, wi-fi with NFC a built-intervalometer and 1080/60p recording - and is a great value for the money, especially at this price.

I just hope this is a sign that Panasonic is working on an entry level 4K interchangeable lens G7!

As always, if anything here has helped you to make a purchase decision, please shop using the links above or the displays below and in the margins. And even if you're not in the market for a new camera, please comment and make suggestions below. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And for the latest deals, news, tips and techniques, please follow HCR on Blogger, Twitter and YouTube and circle us on Google+.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Canon wakes up and smells the coffee - HUGE price drops on C100 Mark I, C300 and C500 Cinema EOS cameras!



Click on the image for price cut details!
With the beginning of a new year, the dam is starting to burst on Canon's ridiculous Cinema EOS prices. As of this morning, the PL mount Canon C500 is $15,999 (down from $30,000), the EF mount C300 (with the dual pixel AF upgrade) is $11,999 (down from $18,500) and the C100 Mark I is $3,999(!) (down from $6,499).

The headline news from these price cuts is that Canon seems to be taking the threat from Aja, Sony and Blackmagic very seriously. In a world where shooters can buy a PL mount 4K/120p APS-C Aja Cion and record to 12-bit 4:4:4 ProRes for $8,995 or an EF mount UHD/80p Super 35mm Blackmagic URSA and record to losslessly compressed CinemaDNG RAW for $5,995 - it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend $18,500 for a 1080/30p Canon C300 that records to a maximum 8-bit 4:2:2.

My guess is that this reality was starting to show up in Cinema EOS sales - and Canon, to its credit, responded. Time will tell whether these price cuts will halt the slide - or if it's a case of "too little, too late".

Shooters who bought these cameras in the last few months and are outside of their return windows aren't going to be happy, but, overall this is very good news - especially for Canon DSLR upgraders. With the cost of a C100 with XLR inputs and a top handle now just $1500 more than a sale priced 5D Mark III, it's almost a no-brainer.

As always, if anything here has helped you to make a purchase decision, please shop using the links above or the displays below and in the margins. And even if you're not in the market for a new camera, please comment and make suggestions below. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

For the latest deals, news, tips and techniques, please follow HCR on Blogger, Twitter and YouTube and circle us on Google+. Happy New Year and thanks for your support of the revolution in 2014!




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Panasonic Deals - GH3 body for $697.99 (plus $100 gift card); G6 with 14-42mm kit lens for $587.99!





I don't know how long these prices will last, but if you're a video shooter on a budget - or you're looking for a great video/still hybrid camera to give as a gift - here are a couple of great deals.

As of this post, the Panasonic DMC-GH3 (body only) is $699.99 at Amazon and $697.99 with a free $100 gift card at Adorama. This is the best 1080p hybrid camera you can buy below $1000.



If that's still above your budget limit, the Panasonic DMC-G6 with the 14-42m kit lens is just $587.99. This is the best entry level video/still hybrid camera on the market with built-in focus peaking, 19 step manual audio gain control and 1080/60p for smooth slow motion.  This camera compares very favorably with DSLRs that cost a lot more - it is a great value for the money.


Monday, October 27, 2014

"D" Cam for Avengers: Age of Ultron - the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera!





IMDB's Technical Specifications page for the upcoming sequel to Marvel's the Avengers - Avengers: Age of Ultron (teaser trailer below) shows the usual list of very expensive Hollywood cameras - the Arri Alexa XT, the RED Epic, the Canon EOS C500 - but it also lists the $900 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera shooting ProRes 4:2:2.

Here's the trailer:



The GoPro HD Hero 3 is also listed (probably as a POV cam).

It is terrific to see a camera from the world of micro-budget filmmaking used on a major Hollywood production - and it's also a testament to the quality of the images produced by the Pocket.

This camera has already been used for major TV advertising campaigns and on the set of the TNT series Dallas - but this is one of the first feature films.

Given this camera's price/performance ratio, it's likely that we'll see more BMPCCs on set in Hollywood going forward.

Hat tip to an anonymous poster over on 4chan for the heads up.