Posts from April 2012

Camera news

So Panasonic have surprised everyone by not announcing a replacement for the AF101 at NAB. That sucks. The brave new large sensor cinematography world hence looks like this — and this is very much a personal take:

Canon 5DmkIII. Nice enough, but unless you dismantle the thing and remove the antialiasing filter (yes, people are really doing this) it’s not a vast improvement on the mkII. Better low light, well-controlled aliasing/moire, decent audio; low resolution, old codec, contaminated HDMI output. My vote: ‘meh.’
Other Canons: just old, now.

Nikon D800. Better in low light than we’d feared, decent audio, clean HDMI, decent codec, FX/DX crop serves as a 1.5x extender; same old horrid aliasing/moire issues, low resolution. My vote: ‘meh.’
Nikon D4: Love the idea of FX/DX/1:1 crop modes, but by all accounts it’s plain soft.
Older Nikons: bwah-hah-hah-hah! (And I write that as a D7000 shooter).

Panasonic AF101. Proper camera, HD-SDI, XLR audio, etc; dodgy highlight & shadow handling, still no really good run&gun lenses. You can get lovely pictures out of the AF101, but it’s edgy to use. My vote: ‘meh, but I don’t regret advising my client to buy one last year.’ They’re extremely good value.

Panasonic GH2. Look, I know nobody takes me seriously on this, but I still think a hacked GH2 is the best bargain this side of £5,000. I may yet put my money where my mouth is.

Sony FS100. Bonkers hunt-the-button design and hilariously dim-witted omission of SDI and ND filters can’t hide a superb sensor. Great choice.

Sony FS700. Like the FS100, but with SDI and ND filters. And 8-sec 240fps 1080p burst recording. WANT. Forget the “4K sometime in the future, once we’ve worked out how to record it and decided how much we’re going to sting you for the privilege”, out of the box this is a great camera. Once you’ve worked out where the buttons are. And stopped remembering that you could have bought two AF101s or a dozen GH2s for the same money.

Canon C300. Lovely camera, but for twice the price of the FS700 I just can’t see it making sense for the likes of me. If I did drama or commercial production, maybe, but I’m a documentary/factual/event guy. The C300 is small and discrete, perhaps… but if that’s your thing, stick with a DSLR and save £10,000. Canon really needs a new codec, too.

RED anything. Yeah. No. Thanks. Different world.

So your decision boils down to ‘Can I afford a proper camera?’: if yes, choose your Sony. If no, I’ll tell you to buy a GH2 and you’ll go straight to whichever Canon costs about what you’re happy to spend. Whatever.

Then Blackmagic do this

Bonkers. Utterly mad. Love it love it love it. They’re insane.

Now, low light looks a bit dodgy to me. The sensor is slightly smaller than m43, about a 2.3x crop by my calculations… which is a bit of a pain. Perhaps. Or maybe very good news for those of us who’ve actually tried focus-pulling APS-C handheld. Battery life is only ~90 minutes, and slapping an extended pack on looks to be tricky given the physical design. Media is relatively costly, sort-of but not really. It’s not exactly clear what they’re doing with lens mounts and aperture control, nor what ‘ZF mount’ means. Does the EF mount power Canon IS lenses? etc etc etc.

But… but… wow, that’s a great idea.

Damn, I really want one of those.

Aaaand an FS700.


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