Friday, September 19, 2014

Deal - Panasonic GH4 with Rokinon 14mm T3.1 cine lens and 32GB U3 card for $1999.95

If you've been looking for a 4K camera with a lens, but are on a budget, here is the best 4K deal out there right now - the 4K Panasonic GH4 with a Rokinon 14mm T3.1 cine lens and a 32GB U3 SD card for less than $2000 from Adorama via eBay .

You'll essentially be getting the lens and the SD card for $300. A great value for your money.

As of this post, there were only two left at this price. If you want one, you should pull the trigger on this deal now.

More GH4 bundles from the Adorama store on eBay here:





And, if you miss out on these Adorama deals, there are some pretty good GH4 bundled deals at Amazon too :)






Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blackmagic URSA in stock at Adorama - hands-on video!

Blackmagic URSA EF - now in stock at Adorama! (click on the image to order)


Ok - not only are we starting to see early footage, it looks like retailers are starting to get them in stock. Here's the announcement and hands-on video from Adorama TV:




My guess is that, as with most Blackmagic rollouts, this first shipment will be limited. If you want this camera, you should order it soon.


Blackmagic URSA pre-orders shipping - first footage from the wild!

The Bear is in the house - Blackmagic URSA EF - $5995 at Adorama


The 4K Super 35 Blackmagic URSA, introduced at NAB 2014 in April, has started shipping. Guy Fiorita at New York production house Shout Chorus appears to be one of the first shooters in the US (and one of the first shooters without a connection to Blackmagic) to get his hands on the camera  - and has taken the time to post a mini-review plus few NYC street scenes (video after the break).

Guy didn't have the shoulder kit, so URSA wasn't on his shoulder very long and he used a tripod for most of the shots.  But he also says that the camera's weight isn't a deal breaker.

I'll let Guy's review and video speak for themselves, but at $5995 (EF version) or $6495 (PL version), shooters might be willing to put up with a little extra weight to get 4K (UHD) RAW or ProRes at 60p plus a global shutter. Goodbye CMOS skew and "jello-vision"!

You would have to pay $28,990 to get UHD/60p and a global shutter from Sony.

It looks like Blackmagic Design is absolutely committed to revolutionizing the price model for cinema cameras - all the way from the sub-$1000 RAW capable Pocket Cinema Camera to feature production with the Super 35 URSA. Good news for filmmakers.  Bad news for the traditional camera manufacturers


Here's Guy's video:




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+ Thanks for your support of the revolution!





Monday, September 15, 2014

RX100 Mark III Killer? Panasonic LX100 - the world's first 4K compact camera




The news is coming fast and furious from IBC. Panasonic has just announced the long-awaited successor to the classic LX7 - the new 4K (UHD) capable LX1000 (available for pre-order at Amazon, Adorama and B&H).

Here's the press release.

And here is the UHD video image quality you can expect (please watch at your monitor's highest resolution):




With its UHD video resolution, micro 4/3 sensor, and hot shoe (in lieu of a built in flash), this little enthusiast camera is the world's first "4K" compact and will be a great alternative to the similarly priced Sony RX100 Mark III - especially with its smaller 1" sensor, HD video resolution and lack of a hot shoe.

Here are more pictures and video of this lovely little camera:






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+ Thanks for your support of the revolution!





The Best Thing About the Release of the New Samsung NX1


It looks like Samsung has knocked one out of the park today with the introduction of their new NX1 - a $1499 body-only 4K APS-C mirrorless camera (already available for pre-order at Adorama and B&H).

The headline specs for video are very impressive - true 4096x2160 4K at 24fps, UHD at 30fps, HD at up to 60fps; a headphone jack and ISO up to 25600 in auto and 51200 in extended mode (complete specs here).

Perhaps just as important as its ability to record to 4K internally (something the UHD-only Sony A7s cannot do at $1000 more - even externally) is the introduction of the new h.265 codec, which should allow high quality compression of 4K to manageable file sizes.  We'll have to see whether the video quality really holds up.

To be fair, the camera has some shortcomings.  It has no slow motion frame rates above 60fps, for example.

And there's one other caveat for event shooters.  It is limited to a 29 minute, 59 second maximum clip length worldwide - while the GH4's max clip length is around 220 minutes (outside of the EU_.

That said, it's stunning that Samsung has been able to pull this off for $200 less than the list price of the GH4 - which brings us to the absolute best thing about the introduction of this camera - it puts pressure on Panasonic and Sony to lower the prices of their flagship 4K cameras.

This is not so good for those of us who have already invested in these cameras - but it is terrific news for shooters who have been waiting for prices to come down.

Here are some more pics of the NX1 to whet your appetite (courtesy Adorama):







Bottom Line
Samsung has steadily improved the quality and feature sets of their interchangeable lens cameras. They have made a few missteps along the way (e.g., the interchangeable lens Galaxy smartphone camera), but they have also created the foundation for long term success - their own lens mount, a reputation for quality and service after the sale - and getting to market with new features before the competition.

To sell their 4K TVs, Samsung is likely to put affordable 4K or UHD in every smartphone and every camera in their product line.  And they have the cash flow from their smartphone business to do it.  If I were the other camera manufacturers, especially Canon and Nikon, I would be worried.

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+ Thanks for your support of the revolution!





Sunday, September 14, 2014

5 Best Shoulder Mounted Super 35mm Cinema Cameras

The Maysles brothers with the Aaton - from "The Cameras that Changed the World"
Courtesy ASC
With this year's introduction of the Aja Cion, Blackmagic URSA (with the $345 OEM shoulder mount) and Sony PXW-FS7, it seems that camera makers are doing their best to bring back the relatively affordable, shoulder mounted cinema cameras that launched the cinéma vérité movement over half a century ago.

At the high end, the Arri Amira and the shoulder mounted version of Panasonic's modular Varicam 35 also appear to be attempts to bring "run and gun" to 35mm digital cinema.

These modern versions of the legendary shoulder mounted film cameras of yesteryear from Aaton, Arri and Eclair look to be perfect for today's digital documentary and reality shooters.

They "look to be" perfect because (except for the Amira) these new cameras are not yet widely available to users - all we really have are beauty shots from the manufacturers and their most trusted DPs.

But we're getting close. The Amira is available now - the Ursa is on pre-order - the Sony is supposed to be available in October - Panasonic's Varicam 35 Press Release says it will ship this fall and Aja is starting to release footage from the Cion.

That said, footage we've seen so far has been very impressive and lends credence to the idea that these cameras may be the harbingers of a brand new era in handheld cinematography.

So - which one should an aspiring feature documentarian buy or rent?  Well, here they are, from least expensive to most expensive, with specs, sample footage and pros and cons - because the internet loves lists.

To make the "HCR 5 Best Shoulder Mounted Super 35mm Cinema Camera" list, cameras must have:

- Super 35mm sensors,

- 10 or 12-bit in-camera codecs,

- 4K or UHD in-camera resolution plus

- An OEM shoulder mount - no third party accessories allowed.

Yes, these criteria are completely arbitrary and I've probably missed someone's favorite camera - if so, please comment below and I'll try to add it.

1. Blackmagic Design Ursa - $5995 (plus $345 OEM Shoulder Kit)




This camera barely makes the list - because it lacks one of the basics for shoulder mounted work - an OEM viewfinder.  Yes, SD-HDI EVFs are pretty easy to find, but a third party viewfinder will be an additional cost (and the time and effort it takes to rig it up) before you can start shooting vérité-style with this camera.

Another issue is Ursa's TV-centric 3840x2160 UHD resoluton.  The Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) standard is 4096x2160 4K for theatrical projection. Most of the other camera on this list (except the Arri) offer true 4K resolution either out of the box or as a near-term firmware upgrade.

It is also limited to 60fps at both UHD and HD resolutions.  Its competitors all have higher frame rate options.

And the Ursa is a bear.  It is relatively heavy, at 16.5 lbs.  So, unless you are Samson (pre-haircut), you won't want to carry this thing around on your shoulder all day.

The image quality is great, though (see beta footage from John Brawley and Captain Hook below).  Plus it records to the least expensive media on the list - CFast cards.  You'll be able to get a Lexar 32GB CFast card for less than $200.

And because the camera is from Blackmagic Design, it includes in-camera CinemaDNG RAW recording and ProRes HQ straight out of the box - no firmware updates or external adapters required.  If you want to shoot RAW or ProRes without waiting for an upgrade, UHD is all the resolution you need and money is tight - the Ursa may be the camera for you.






2. Sony PXW-FS7 - $7999 Street Price


The FS7, introduced at IBC 2014, is the featherweight champion of this new class of camera at 5.2 lbs.  It is very well thought out, with a nice control handle/trigger/zoom rocker that would have cost thousands from a third party supplier.

It is the only Super 35 camera on the market with affordable power zoom lenses, it records to the proven 10-bit XAVC codec and Sony S-Log and uses affordable XQD S Series cards (you can get a 32GB S Series card for less than $200).

Like the Ursa, it is limited to UHD, but, unlike the Ursa, it will get a firmware upgrade to true 4K in January. That same upgrade will bring ProRes recording to the FS7, which the Ursa has straight out of the box.

The FS7 doesn't have the Ursa's ability to record RAW internally, but it can output uncompressed RAW through an external interface unit to a recorder - and it can record slow motion at up to 180fps in HD - something the Ursa cannot do.

This camera is very price competitive in its class, at $8000 body-only, including the viewfinder, shoulder mount and control handle.

Images from the FS7 appear to be very nice and the color is competent and "Sony like"  - but it will be necessary to see more (preferably downloadable) footage before making a final judgement.




3. Aja Cion - $8995


At 7.4 lbs with the top handle and 6.4 lbs without, the Cion is almost as light as the FS7.  Like the Ursa, it records directly to edit-friendly ProRes - and, like the FS7, it outputs RAW to an external recorder rather than recording it internally.

The camera records to true DCI 12-bit 4:4:4 4096x2160 4K and is the only camera on this list besides the $60K Varicam to meet the full DCI standard straight out of the box.

Aja is the newest camera manufacturer on this list (newer even than Blackmagic) - but they have a great reputation as a maker of high quality external ProRes recorders, and the images we've seen from this camera have, so far, been impressive:



4. Arri Amira - $39,999



Early this year, Arriflex introduced the Amira - a shoulder mounted camera with the advertising tagline "Pick Up > Shoot".  It is a great looking camera, with the fore-aft balance, the viewfinder and the controls all exactly where they should be.

Sadly, however, the Arri Amira needs a waiver to make the HCR list as a "4K" camera - because it was released early in 2014 with 2K output.  Unluckily for Arri, 2014 has turned out to be the year of 4K - and smartphones and superzooms are now out-resolving their $40,000 "Pick Up > Shoot" flagship.

Arri's solution to this challenge was to "up-sample"  Amira's 2K output to UHD with a recently announced firmware update.

It is yet to be seen how the image quality resulting from this process compares to 2K content up-sampled in post or recorded directly to UHD/4K.

All of that said, this camera is a documentarian's dream, with the perfect, relatively lighweight form factor.  It is 9.2 lbs body-only and records to ProRes at up to 200fps (at 2K).  Sadly, there is no implementation of ArriRAW with the Amira - but the Premium model does record up to 12-bit ProRes 4444.

The word "Premium" brings up the Amira's biggest weakness - price.  $40,000 is a lot to pay for a 2K camera in 2014.  If you want an up-sampled 2K image, you can do it in post for significantly less money.

But, again, the Amira is a DP's run and gun dream camera and produces fabulous images with the unmistakable Arri "look".  If budget permits, you can't go wrong with this camera.




Shoulder mounted Varicam HS shown

This is the most expensive camera on the list - and also one of the most interesting.  A "modular" camera, it consists of separate sensor and recorder units.  Upon its introduction, Panasonic announced 2/3" and Super 35 front end sensor modules for the Varicam recorder - but there's no reason there can't be a micro 4/3 module at some point in the future (I haven't heard that anywhere - I'm officially starting the rumor here :)).

I saw this camera at NAB, and it has everything it needs to make it a great run and gun camera - great ergonomics, variable frame rates up to 240fps in HD and 120fps at 4K, the viewfinder is in the right place - and it uses relatively inexpensive and convenient micro P2 cards (you can get a 32GB card for $229).  

At 14+ lbs, this camera is no lightweight, but the 2/3" sensor module is certainly intended for shoulder mount - and there is no reason the Super 35 module can't be put up on the shoulder as well.  

The downside to this camera, like the Amira, is how much it costs.  $60,000?  Really?

Panasonic is clearly competing with Alexa, Genesis, F65 and Epic here - but they could really take it to the competition and carve out a significant part of the market (as they did with the GH4) by undercutting them on price.  It will be interesting to see what Panasonic does.

In the meantime, it looks like the image quality from this camera is the real deal.





Closing Thoughts

This was fun to put together - and it has helped me to think through which of these cameras I would rent or buy.  I hope it was helpful to others as well.

To those who think I should have included other cameras - yes, Canon, Kinefinity, Sony PMW and RED 4K cameras are wonderful - but they are not shoulder-ready right out of the box.

And yes, you can put an Alexa or a Genesis on your shoulder - but these are heavy 2K cameras, and, although mainstream DPs still love them, they are no longer at the forefront of lightweight, high resolution Super 35mm camera technology - so I left them off the list.

Arri Alexa on third party shoulder rig

So which one is best?  As usual, the answer is "it depends".  If you want the lightest weight camera, a power zoom lens and a remote hand grip, you want the Sony.  If you want 12-bit RAW and the lowest price, you want the Blackmagic.  If you want to shoot at 240fps in HD and 120fps at 4K, you want the Varicam 35, if you want 120fps at 4K and the lowest priced shoulder-mounted DCI 4K straight out of the box, the Aja is your camera - and if you want Arri color science in a run and gun package, you should get the Amira.

Bottom line - while the micro budget revolution continues with large sensor 4K cameras such as the Panasonic FZ1000, Panasonic GH4, Sony A7s and others - the emerging Super 35 run and gun revolution is much more likely to affect what most people see on their big screen TVs and in theaters.

Independent filmmakers with moderate budgets will soon be able to own the A7s or a GH4 with a Metabones EF adapter or Speed Booster  - and then go down to the rental house and hire an FS7 or Ursa EF for a reasonable amount of money, while sharing high quality Canon glass between their cameras.

So now there are two revolutions underway - the hybrid still/video camera revolution for which this blog is named, and the "Super 35 revolution" - affordable cinema-quality digital cameras you can carry around on your shoulder.

Some would argue that this new revolution is simply an upmarket echo of the hybrid camera revolution that started a little over 5 years ago with the Nikon D90, Canon 5D Mark II and Panasonic GH1.

Others might posit that the rise of competitors like RED have forced Arri and others to respond with new technology.

I'm not smart enough to know. Whatever the reason, for people with moderate budgets who want to make 35mm movies outside of the big budget Hollywood/New York system, these are indeed the best of times.

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+ Thanks for your support of the revolution!





Friday, September 12, 2014

Canon C300 Killer? $8000 4K/60p Sony PXW-FS7 Out-Specs $12,000 Canon C300



 VERSUS


Okay, you've probably already heard that Sony has decided to go all-in on support for Super 35mm independent filmmaking with the brand new $7999 4K/60p PXW-FS7 camcorder, announced at IBC 2014 overnight (press release here, specs here).

From the specs and early hands-on videos from Sony Professional and Cinema 5D (see below for early video) - the FS7 appears to be a full-on frontal assault on the more expensive Canon C300 (which is currently marked down from $13,999 to $11,999). And with the FS7's $1999 XDCA-FS7 Extension Unit and its ability to output ProRes and RAW  (shown in the images below), it becomes a $20,000 Canon C500 killer too.



Here's the camera with the XDCA-FS7 mounted (it's also a V mount adapter):






With this camera, independent filmmakers will be able to rent a $10,000 camera (a quarter of the price of an Arri Amira), throw it over their shoulders and go out and record directly to 4K without a bunch of external recorders or rigging.

My guess is that a lot of news organizations will buy this camera too, especially if, as expected, it works seamlessly with the SELP 18-200 power zoom.

James Tonkin shooting with the FS7 in Japan (image courtesy of Sony Professional)
Sony deserves a lot of credit here. Not only for reclaiming the entry-level Super 35 lead from Canon - but for listening to users' complaints about the ergonomics of the NEX-FS700, with its top mounted LCD and boxy form factor.  They also deserve credit for being willing to cannibalize the sales of their own FS700 and PMW-F5 - offering a higher-spec shoulder mounted camera with built-in 4K at a lower price point.

In my view, this will earn them a lot of loyalty from consumers - and, in the long run, will be more profitable than Canon's strategy of "protecting the high end by crippling the entry level".

Early video from this camera is solid, and the demonstrations of the built-in shoulder mount and control grip in the hands on videos are impressive.  These features are not only extremely useful, they will save shooters a lot of money because they won't have to spend thousands of extra dollars on third party shoulder mounts and control grips.

Here are the best videos I could find as of this post (I will update this over the next few days as more becomes available, so please check back):



Sony Professional: PXW-FS7 Official Promotion Movie




Sony Professional: PXW-FS7 Official FullHD Beauty Image




Sony Professional: FS7 First Footage




Sony Professional: BTS with the PXW-FS7, Den Lennie and James Tonkin



First look video courtesy of Sony Professional with Juan Martinez and Chiyoko Yannette




Cinema 5D Exclusive: Sony FS7 hands-on (courtesy Cinema 5D)

It seems to me that the only downside to this camera is the lack of a global shutter and internal RAW recording - features available on the sub-$3000 Blackmagic Production Camera. But those omissions are offset by the thoughtful ergonomics, a proven professional codec and an upgrade path to true 4K in 2015. In my view, this camera is well worth the $8000 list price - and is the first camcorder that has tempted me to sell all of my Panasonic GH cameras. Well done, Sony.

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. 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+ Thanks for your support of the revolution!