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New Fuji announcements for Photokina

Posted on: 11/09/2014 08:14:00 under News » General 
So Photokina 2014 is just round the corner and Fujifilm is first off the blocks with their announcements.

First off is the new X100T. As you can see, it looks pretty similar to is predecessor the X100S and indeed it uses the same sensor and processor. The difference is really a new Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder that Fujifilm claim makes the X100T the first Electronic Rangefinder camera.


The X100T's optical viewfinder can simultaneously display the focus area by using the built-in ND filter. Users simply need to turn the camera's focusing ring for a mechanical rangefinder-style view. Additionally, Focus Peaking and Digital Split Image modes can be selected and the magnification of the focused area can be changed.


With the optical viewfinder, Real-time Parallax Correction has also been added to ensure more accurate framing. Parallax error, which occurs during close-up shooting, is automatically corrected in real time so users no longer having to reframe after focusing.

Other improvements include being able to now adjust the aperture ring in 1/3 stop increments, new Fn buttons and an upgraded LCD.

Lastly, a completely silent shutter, capable of exposures up to 1/32000 sec has been added.

The X100T can shoot full HD video at up to 60fps - will be interesting to see if they have improved the quality but in all honestly that's not really what Fuji's about.

Next up is the X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition. Now we already stock the X-T1 so are unlikely to be stocking this camera but what has also been announced is a new range of updates that will be made available for our X-T1's come December 2014.

First up is a new high-speed electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32000 seconds. This has two great uses. It firstly allows you to shoot on a fast lens wide open in bright sunlight without needing to resort to an ND filter. Secondly there is no noise. We have already seen how devastatingly effective this is on the Sony a7s, especially in a church at weddings.

There are other improvements with this firmware update -

(1) Direct selection of AF Area
The update will let users select the focus area using the 4-way controller, without pressing the Fn key.

(2) Unlocked AE-L/AF-L buttons
The function of the AE-L/AF-L button is currently locked, but will be interchangeable, depending on the user’s preference.

(3) Variable Focus Area during MF
When working in Manual focus mode, the update will enable changing the size of the focus area during Instant AF with the AF-L button.

(4) Direct selection of Macro mode
In Autofocus mode, the update will enable the Macro function to be turned on or off, without accessing the pop-up menu screen.

(5) Q Menu customisation
To make the Q Menu (used for quick access of frequently-used items) even more efficient, the update will allow its items and layout to be changed to the user’s preference.

(6) New video frame rates
As well as the existing 60fps and 30fps selections, 50fps, 25fps and 24fps options will be available with the update. 50fps and 25fps allow video editing in the PAL regions, such as Europe, without converting the frame rate. 24fps offers a cinema-like view.

(7) Manual shooting in Video mode
The update will enable ISO sensitivity selection prior to shooting videos, as well as the ability to adjust aperture and shutter speed during movie recording.

(8) Phase Detection AF support for Instant AF
In Instant AF mode, which is operated by pressing the AF-L button during manual focusing, the update will enable Phase Detection AF, providing faster focusing speeds.

(9) Interlocking of Metering and Focus areas
Users will be able to interlock the AF area position with the Metering area when Spot Metering mode is selected.

(10) Expansion of shutter speed in Program Shift mode
In the current Program Shift mode, the slowest-speed setting is 1/4sec, but this will increase.


So that's the cameras out of the way, now the lenses. First off is the FUJINON XF56mm F1.2 R APD.


Now you'd be forgiven for thinking 'haven't we seen this before'? Well yes and no. We first saw the XF56mm F1.2 R at the Photography Show at the beginning of this year and judging by the amount our ones go out, it's a very popular lens. So what's different about this one? It's something called an apodisation filter. This gives the lens an unique bokeh effect whilst still maintaining sharpness.

We're very much looking forward to doing some side by side comparisons between this and the standard XF56mm F1.2 R to see whether the man on the street can see the difference!!

Last up is a lens I know our customers have been waiting for - a decent telephoto zoom - the 50-140mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR (to give its full mouthful of a name!). What you're getting is a 35mm equivalent focal length of 76-213mm when you take into account the crop factor the the APS-C sensor.


The lens comprises of 23 glass elements in 16 groups, with five ED lens elements and one Super ED lens element comparable to a fluorite lens. This maximizes the reduction of chromatic aberrations and delivers high resolving power. The seven round aperture blades create a smooth circular bokeh.

The length of the barrel remains constant through the entire zoom range and the lens is weather and dust-resistant working down to temperatures as low as -10C.

It contains a Triple Linear Motor to ensure incredibly quick but also very quiet autofocus. Combine this with Fujifilm's new announcement of a silent shutter on the XT-1 and you've got a cracking combo allowing photos to be taken unnoticed in places like church weddings.

Contained within is a high-performance gyro sensor to give the XF50-140mm the best image stablization performance in its class.

We expect we'll see this lens at some point in November or December.


 
 

Zeiss announce new Loxia lenses

Posted on: 02/09/2014 12:00:00 under News » General 

Well we have all been holding our breath waiting for Zeiss to come out with full frame E Mount lenses but no-one really knew in what shape they would come.  As of today, the wraps are off and here they are - the Loxia 2/35 and Loxia 2/50.

As you have seen from the image above, they are manual focus which may come as a disappointment to some but I think they have made the right decision.  The a7r (and the a7s) are hardly lightning fast (especially in low light) with current Sony AF lenses.  Coupled to that, if you're aiming on using these lenses for film-making as well, manual control is way way better (and surely this duality of purpose is one of the huge attractions of something like the a7s) as you have a physical connection between the ring and the lens.  I should point out that because there is an electronic connection between the lens and camera, any focus movement, if desired, can automatically trigger the camera's magnifier function - perfect.

The news gets better for the film-makers as the manual aperture can be declicked to give you a smooth constant adjustment.  The focus rotation angle of 180 degrees means that fine adjustment in focus is a breeze.

In design, the advantages are plain to see - they are small.  That means you can get away with shooting without drawing attention to yourself.   Unlike the Touit range, the Loxia lenses are made entirely of metal and have a special weather sealing at the lens mount.

We've already got our order in on both the 2/35 and 2/50.  The 2/50 should be in stock late October whilst the 2/35 will be available towards the end of the year.


 
 

August Bank Holiday Offer

Posted on: 18/08/2014 15:09:00 under News » General 
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Book now to get 5 days for the price of 2!!!

 

The last of our Bank Holidays is upon us and we've once more got an exceptional offer for you!

Subject to availability, book equipment today or tomorrow for this weekend and we will get it dispatched tomorrow for delivery on Wednesday (if you book on Wednesday, we will still aim to deliver on Thursday).  All equipment will then be collected on Tuesday 26th August.  

THAT'S 5 DAYS FOR PRICE OF A NORMAL WEEKEND HIRE CHARGE!  

We will be offering our 1 day Last Minute Offer but do bear in mind that we won't be dispatching until Thursday for delivery on Friday.  This will be available to book as of Thursday morning.

Normal courier, insurance and minimum hire charges, equipment deposits and delivery conditions apply.  Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.  All offers are subject to availability.




 
 

Sony announces PXW-X70 camcorder

Posted on: 04/08/2014 19:08:00 under News » General 

We already love the Sony AX100 as really there is nothing to touch it for great value 4K Point and Shootability.  Whenever Sony announce a consumer camcorder, you can bet your bottom dollar that there's a pro version on the way.  Well this time that pro version is actually quite different and not just with slightly different specs and a bolt on XLR adaptor.  But let's get one thing out of the way first - this is not YET a 4K camcorder.  It is initially being launched as 4K ready so this will be available early next year.

Sony have really thought about the ergonomics of this camera.  A large hand grip makes handling the camera a breeze and Sony has seen fit to place buttons within reach of your fingers for a change to make it incredibly easy to handle.  The handle is detachable with the XLR audio working through Sony's MI shoe.

The sensor is 1.0 type Exmor R CMOS (sound familiar?).  Combined with Sony's wonderful Bionz X processor, it's capable of fine things.

The lens is a 12x optical zoom ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens with image stabilisation (the camera has Sony's Active Steadyshot).  You've also a four stage Variable ND option.  In HD you can also increase that zoom to 24x by the camera using the extra pixels on the sensor, something Sony call 'Clear Image Zoom' - we've seen this before on Sony camcorders and it works very well indeed.

Recording formats are AVCHD, XAVC and DV.  You've got two SD card slots so you can either hotswap between them or record simultaneously.

To look at what you're shooting, you have a 3.5" LCD or an OLED viewfinder.  The LCD is now a touch screen which allows touch-to-focus and touch-to-expose (something we've been wanting for a while).  You have obviously got all the aids (peaking, histogram, zebras..).

As you would expect for a new camera, connectivity is provided with Wifi and NFC capability.  This means you can control the camera wirelessly from a phone or tablet and video files can be transferred in MP4 format.

Finally connections wise you've not only got HDMI but Sony have also included 3G HD-SDI.

All in all it's a little powerhouse.  Ours are on order already and we're expecting them at launch which we assume will be around October.



 
 

Blackmagic Design 1.8 Update

Posted on: 26/06/2014 12:55:00 under News » General 


There have been a lot of complaints about the way Blackmagic Design has been forging ahead with new products without actually resolving issues with their current range.

Yesterday they officially announced Version 1.8 Update which applies to the Cinema Camera, 4K Production Camera and Pocket Camera.  Rumours are they were forced to launch it quickly as it had been leaked.  What they have said is that they have further updates planned and aim to release smaller and more frequent updates rather than bigger ones less frequently.

So onto this update - what's in it?  Well let's clear up a big bugbear - you still can't format the card in camera!!  Grrr....

The user interface has been updated.  Anything changed?  Nope, it just looks a bit more modern.

Of bigger interest is the AF Support for EF lenses.  Whether this works with third party suppliers like Sigma, we've yet to test thoroughly but considering how hard it is to pull focus on the LCD screen (especially if you're shooting in 4K), this has to be great news.  What Blackmagic Design haven't mentioned is what effect this has on power consumption - will the Production Camera actually last longer than 15 minutes on its internal battery when using AF and IS?!!!!

For the Cinema camera, a new debayer is being employed which should provide better image quality in Pro-Res or DivX modes.

Focus peaking is now green to make it easier to view and you can now double push the focus button to activate it.

ISO has been 1600 and the iris setting in no maintained as you switch between record and play modes.

For the Pocket Camera, there is now support for more lenses and an menu option for switching image stablisation has now been added.

Lastly the Production Camera now receives compressed 4K RAW (which people have been waiting for since its launch) and obviously all the other Cinema Camera improvements such as the AF.

We are currently updating our stock as they come back from customers.


 
 

Nikon D810 announced

Posted on: 26/06/2014 10:37:00 under News » Cameras 

So two years have passed since the D800 arrived and today Nikon have announced its successor, the D810. Am I desperately excited? I do kind of feel for Nikon as what they are trying to do is ultimately improve their top end SLRs which no doubt they have done. BUT is there anything earth shattering about the new features? Let's have a look.

First off the sensor, it's an all new 36.3mp one with no optical low-pass filter, designed to deliver the best image detail possible. The ISO range now starts at ISO 64 (great for long exposure fans) and ends at ISO 12,800 (expandable up to ISO 51,200 equivalent). The D810 receives the same EXPEED 4 image processor as the D4S giving the camera a helpful boost. Nikon claim image rendering and ISO capability is vastly improved in both stills and video. Burst rates are 6fps at full frame and 7fps in DX crop mode (15.3mp).


The D810 also borrows the 51-point AF system from the D4S offering Nikon's new Group Area AF mode. Interestingly, there is a new shutter mechanism that reduces image shake and you can activate a new electronic front-curtain shutter to minimise internal vibrations. This should also mean a quieter shutter - will be interesting to see.

Many have moaned about the size of the RAW files so it's great to see that Nikon have now introduced a second RAW format - RAW Size S - which delivers 12-bit uncompressed Nikon NEF files but at a resolution of 3680x2456 (9mp).

Whether shooting stills or video, Nikon's newly introduced second-gen Picture Control System includes a new Flat setting allowing you to get the best dynamic range (think Sony S-Log or Canon Log) for working in Post.


Nikon have introduced a new EL-15a battery with the camera which is claimed to allow 1,200 images to be shot on one charge.

Movie wise, afraid there's no 4k which some might have been expecting. You can shoot at 50/60p in Full HD. Still no peaking which is frustrating. What the image is like, we'll just have to wait and see - Nikon claim markedly reduced noise, moire and false colour.

Body wise, things are pretty much the same. There's a new improved grip, some buttons have swapped around and a new memory card housing (still with SD and CF).
 
So nothing earth shattering - just useful updates to what was already an exceptional camera. I have no doubt that for some this will be a perfect tool (certainly a far better proposition that the frankly pointless Df). Is it enough? That's a difficult one to answer. I would love to see Nikon (and Canon) just being a little bit more innovative and can't help but feel unless this changes, they will get left behind. The CSC market is gathering pace and whilst I applaud these two manufacturers continually refining their high end DSLR products, they ignore this market at their peril.

We'll be stocking the D810 at some point in July and will be getting the camera up on our website for pre-ordering shortly.

In the meantime, here are some videos from Nikon for you to watch!







 
 

Trying out Sony's new 70-200mm f/4 FE lens

Posted on: 19/06/2014 10:10:00 under News » General 
Okay, I'll admit it - I've been dying to try out this lens! Sony have been accused of having a non-existant range of FE lenses to go with their full frame E Mount cameras. Up to now it's been a bit scarce with two primes and two zooms. Well we can now add this FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS to the list and a damn good lens it is too!


So here it is attached to a Sony a7r. Let's just touch on the subject of its size and weight. When I posted a picture of it attached to the a6000, I was told it looked daft. Well daft it might look but let's not forget the whole lot weighed about 1,200 grams in total (i.e. a hell of a lot less that a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens just on its own). It's also nowhere near as front heavy as you'd imagine. Overall I didn't have any issues with it and it made me laugh at the look of shock on people's faces when I handed it over to them expecting it to weigh a lot more!

Is this the perfect match for the a7r? I'm not really that sure. I used it to test the ultimate image quality of the lens (which you can see further down the blog post) but in reality, the a7r is pretty slow to autofocus so really holds this lens back in terms of speed (let's be honest, the a7r is about ultimate image quality).  I can see it being used with the a7s when that comes out.  Anyway, let's try bolting on the a6000. I'm a HUGE fan of the a6000, so much so it's the first camera I've actually bought myself to use at home for a fair while. Why? Simply because it's the first CSC that is quick enough to actually rival an SLR for shooting my toddlers! Don't believe me? You really should try one. It's also damn good at shooting movie footage, especially with a Ninja Blade bolted on the side (or try a Ninja Star for ultimate portability). The AF system is leagues better than anything before with nearly full sensor coverage and incredibly quick focus speed. You've got a fair amount of control over the focus modes. I wanted to keep things quite simple so kept in wide mode with face tracking on. Sony's got a great feature called Eye AF - I ran out of time to test if I could use it with Continuous AF shooting but I'll let you know later this week.

I headed off to Brighton as I had some kit to give my friend (and damn fine filmmaker) James Miller. He was shooting down by the pier with Philip Bloom so I thought it would be a good chance to see how the lens coped. I'm sure Phil won't mind me posting this up (at least it's a nice one of him).

Click on the images to expand!!

200mm 1/125th f/4 100 ISO 200mm shot
200mm 1/125th f/4 100 ISO

It's hard to capture people's smiles well especially when they are actually in conversation (and in this case working). The ability to rattle off shots at 11 fps makes picking a 'winner' a hell of a lot easier. I shot this in RAW & Jpeg. It limited the burst of shots I could do (about 15 before it stumbled) and then it would take a little while to write to the card (faster cards are a good investment on this camera). So okay, it's not a 1DX and it can't sit there shooting RAWs until your card runs out BUT then again it's not a £5k camera!  It's also nowhere near as loud which, considering they were shooting, was rather important!  My point is that with that kind of shooting speed, you really have a good chance of nailing the shot. Phil was moving around a fair bit but the camera on Continuous AF had no problems at all, even at 200mm. I should have taken this shot at a higher ISO (I was switching between video and stills and was trying to get away without putting a variable ND on the front!) but the Image Stabilisation is really very impressive, in fact so good I shot video at 200mm handheld!

I left James and Phil in peace to get on with their work and headed off for some seagull spotting. I gave myself five minutes to try and nail a couple of good shots. The camera was switched to just fine jpegs which allowed me about 3 seconds of shooting before hitting the buffers. The AF really worked quickly with was important as I was scouting for birds and was counting on the camera to then focus on them quickly. If you ever want to learn a discipline, try tracking birds at short range at 200mm. I now have a HUGE amount of respect for our wildlife photography customers!! The point of this test was to show just how much you can achieve with a camera/lens combo capable of fast shutter and AF speeds. Here are my two favourites -

200mm 1/4000th f/6.3 400 ISO Seagull shot
200mm 1/4000th f/6.3 400 ISO

200mm 1/125th f/4 100 ISO Seagull 2 shot
200mm 1/125th f/4 100 ISO

These are JPEGs so you're limited in what you can do with the processing wise but I'm pretty pleased with results. I could have made things far easier for myself and the camera by closing the lens down but I really wanted to see what was possible.

So onto the next test - find a cyclist! Trying not to look too dodgy (and I think the camera's size does help a bit here), I waited on Madeira Drive for someone to come along. The lens was set at f/4, again to make life as tricky as possible. I also had full range AF set on the lens and the AF mode was set to the whole frame, just to make life as difficult for the camera. This was again shot at 11fps.

So here we go....

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO Cyclist shot
200mm 1/400th f/4 100 ISO

Okay so towards the end, it's starting to struggle but I think it's put in a pretty stellar performance. I could have made life much easier for the camera by selecting an AF area. As I mentioned, I do need to try Eye AF as well on Continuous AF mode as that may well have improved things. Remember this is all shot at f/4.

Finally let's go back to a shot taken on the Sony a7r. The second shot is 100% crop.

a7r 1/800th f/4 100 ISO a7r shot
a7r 1/800th f/4 100 ISO

a7r 1/800th f/4 100 ISO 100%a7r shot
a7r 1/800th f/4 100 ISO 100%


In summary so far, there's no question the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS is a brilliant addition to the family.  From a photography point of view, with the a6000 on the back, there really is nothing to touch it until you start spending quite a considering amount more (and let's not forget lugging around a heap more weight).  Sure, it's not going to replace your 1DX or D4 but I know which I'll be taking to Goodwood next week as for me, the compromises are far outweighed by the smaller weight and size. But then I don't shoot for a living!!

Movie wise, I think this is a going to be prove a very interesting proposition with very effective image stablisation.  I look forward to trying it out with the a7s and Atomos Shogun in 4k!

As always, this is not a definitive technical test - I am sure there will be plenty of these coming along by people who are hugely more intelligent than me.  What this first test has shown me is just how surprisingly good the lens is and as an a6000 owner, I am chuffed to pieces!

Okay so it's not an f/2.8 (and I doubt you'll ever see one as it goes against the whole idea of low weight).  Is that an issue?  For most, probably not.  The f/2.8 lenses have always been popular as that extra stop can help enormously in say a dark church.  But let's say you're shooting with an a7s, the camera can pretty much see in the dark anyway so is it really such an issue after all when you can happily shoot at 25,600 ISO?  The simple answer is - if you want to shoot at f/2.8, this won't be for you!!

You can find out more about the lens on our detailed page.  Afraid you can't have it next week as I'm taking it to Goodwood Festival of Speed but I promise to stop hogging it after that!!



 
 
Image Courtesy of Sony Professional Europe.

It's really exciting times at Sony, whether you're on the consumer or broadcast side of things.  New product developments are coming thick and fast - this next 18 months we'll see some quite interesting kit being announced.

Today, Sony announced development of a new compact XDCAM camcorder with a 1.0 type Exmor sensor.  This size sensor has been used in the Sony AX100 to great effect so it's no surprise to see Sony Professional coming up with something.

Here's the press release - 

Basingstoke, June 17, 2014: Sony has announced that a new addition to its XDCAM Series of handheld solid-state memory Camcorders is in development, and is set to be made available this year. The new model has today been publically previewed for the first time, with delegates able to see the camera at Broadcast Asia, taking place in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

The new XDCAM camcorder features a 20M pixel 1.0-type Exmor® R CMOS Sensor and the capability to record in XAVC Long GOP, enabling 422 10-bit sampling for high-definition recording with rich tonal expression. The camcorder will be designed to support broadcasters and AV professionals as they modernise their workflows with a focus on increased data transfer speeds.

Upon its release the new camcorder is set to become Sony’s most compact XAVC-capable XDCAM camera to date, well suited to field operations for a broad range of professional applications.

“Following the recent announcements of the PXW-X180 and the PXW-X160 camcorders, we’re excited to see the momentum which exists across the industry in adopting the XAVC recording format,” said Robbie Fleming, Product Marketing Manager, at Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “This new compact addition to the XDCAM line-up will bring the benefits of XAVC to an even broader audience, whether it’s in education, videography or news and broadcast production.”


 
 

Sigma 50mm - the prime shootout!

Posted on: 04/06/2014 09:57:00 under News » General 

Say hello to the new Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens (to give it its full name). Rarely has any lens been raved about more before anyone has really got their hands on it! Is it really as good as it sounds and are the rumours true? Is it as good as the Zeiss Otus 55mm?

I love the internet as everyone’s an armchair expert and for the past couple of months, I’ve seen comparisons with people taking two completely different photos, shot on different cameras at different exposures and then using them to compare the lenses?!!

Friday morning last week, our first Canon mount Sigma landed on my desk. Amateur Photographer had borrowed our Otus for a test feature so I tottered over to my good friend James Miller with both the Sigma and a Canon 50mm f/1.2 L to test against his Otus.

These are the lenses we tested and the links to where you can find out more information if you want to try them -

Canon 50mm f1.2L USM
Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 Apo Distagon Nikon ZF.2 Lens

All the shots were taken on a Canon 1DC on a tripod using a shutter speed exceeding 1/500th second to eliminate any motion blur – we used the same settings for each lens and tried our best to ensure the frames were as similar as possible. All these shots were taken using manual focus – all framed up in Live View. With the Otus, we used a simple Nikon F adaptor.

This is not scientific, merely a question of whether we could spot a difference between the three. In fact, James is a little annoyed as the focus on the Otus in one shot is slightly soft (he should know as he uses it for work most days). So please, no massive analysis – this is just a real world test.

I’ll quickly deal with AF before we get going. Sigma have always had stick for fact their AF systems are always slower that Canon or Nikon. I have to say that I thought the AF was superb – in fact far better than the Canon. Where the Canon was hunting a bit, the Sigma was quick to pull focus. Looking at the images, it was just a tiny bit soft on the point of focus compared to shooting on manual but it really was very fine and Sigma provide an USB hub which allows you to fine tune the AF at differing focal lengths – very simple but incredibly clever. I tried some other shots using another body back at the office and they were very sharp. Just goes to show difference a body can make!

So test one was to take a portrait shot of James’ son Harry. On looking at the results, we were immediately impressed with the Sigma. Both it and the Otus were frankly in a different league to the Canon at f/1.4.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO ENLARGE - MAXIMISE BROWSER FIRST - AS THE IMAGES ARE LARGE, THEY MIGHT TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD!!

Zeiss Otus at f/1.4 Full Frame Zeiss Otus f/1.4
Zeiss Otus at f/1.4


Sigma at f/1.4 Full Frame Sigma f/1.4
Sigma at f/1.4


Canon at f/1.4 Full Frame Canon f/1.4
Canon at f/1.4

What also struck us was the difference 5mm in focal length makes (as the Otus is 55mm) and what effect that has on the depth of field. It really is a personal preference and is pretty hard to split them. The Canon I’m afraid just hasn’t got a look in. To really understand why, we need to go to a 100% crop.

Zeiss Otus at f/1.4 100% Crop Zeiss Otus f/1.4 100% Crop
Zeiss Otus at f/1.4 100% Crop


Sigma at f/1.4 100% Crop Sigma f/1.4 100% Crop
Sigma at f/1.4 100% Crop


Canon at f/1.4 100% Crop Canon f/1.4 100% Crop
Canon at f/1.4 100% Crop

As for the backgrounds, see for yourself – again it’s a personal preference thing and you can make up your own mind.

Zeiss Otus at f/1.4 100% Side Crop Zeiss Otus f/1.4 100% Side Crop
Zeiss Otus at f/1.4 100% Side Crop


Sigma at f/1.4 100% Side Crop Sigma f/1.4 100% Side Crop
Sigma at f/1.4 100% Side Crop


Canon at f/1.4 100% Side Crop Canon f/1.4 100% Side Crop
Canon at f/1.4 100% Side Crop

Onto f4 and the Canon is now faring far better but look closer and you can see the Sigma and Otus still have it for sharpness. Again, firstly the full frame shots and then the 100% crops.

Zeiss Otus at f/4 Full Frame Zeiss Otus f/4
Zeiss Otus at f/4


Sigma at f/4 Full Frame Sigma f/4
Sigma at f/4


Canon at f/4 Full Frame Canon f/4
Canon at f/4


Zeiss at Otus f/4 100% Crop Zeiss Otus f/4 100% Crop
Zeiss Otus at f/4 100% Crop


Sigma at f/4 100% Crop Sigma f/4 100% Crop
Sigma at f/4 100% Crop


Canon at f/4 100% Crop Canon f/4 100% Crop
Canon at f/4 100% Crop

So all very well but how about testing the edges of the lenses at f/1.4 and giving them a good workout. Why are the edges of the lens important at f/1.4? Is your subject always framed in the middle? Er no, so there is relevance in this test.

So we headed outside for the good old High Street shot. We compared all the lenses first at f/1.4 – our aim was to pick out the aerial in the top right of shot as whilst not at the far corners of the lens, this was a realistic point at where you’d be framing a subject at f/1.4.

Zeiss Otus at f/1.4 Full Frame Zeiss Otus f/1.4
Zeiss Otus at f/1.4


Sigma at f/1.4 Full Frame Sigma f/1.4
Sigma at f/1.4


Canon at f/1.4 Full Frame Canon f/1.4
Canon at f/1.4

As we zoom in (albeit to a 200% crop), the Canon is frankly disastrous – there’s no clarity whatsoever and the purple edging is very evident.

Canon at f/1.4 200% Crop Canon f/1.4 100% Crop
Canon at f/1.4 200% Crop

Moving on to the Sigma and there’s a big improvement with the image being nowhere near as soft.

Sigma at f/1.4 200% Crop Sigma f/1.4 100% Crop
Sigma at f/1.4 200% Crop

Finally the Zeiss. If you wondered where your money is going, this is where. It really is remarkably sharp.

Otus at f/1.4 200% Crop Otus f/1.4 100% Crop
Otus at f/1.4 200% Crop

Moving onto f4 and the differences are still there but obviously the difference between the Zeiss and Sigma is less.

Sigma at f/4 200% Crop Sigma f/4 100% Crop
Sigma at f/1.4 200% Crop

Otus at f/4 200% Crop Otus f/4 100% Crop
Otus at f/1.4 200% Crop

I’m afraid while not now terrible, the Canon is still trailing.

Canon at f/4 200% Crop Canon f/1.4 100% Crop
Canon at f/4 200% Crop

Clearly we're not all going to wander round shooting TV aerials with 50mm primes but this does very clearly show the differences in quality outside the central point of the lens. Sure, in a lot of shots, you'd be hard pushed to see this but we thought it was only fair to show just where the Otus pulls ahead.

So what does all this mean? Firstly let’s compare the Sigma against the Canon. There’s absolutely no comparison here. Anyone defending the Canon by saying it’s an f/1.2 rather than an f/1.4, well please feel free to do so. Personally I’d rather a decent image at f/1.4! The Sigma quite frankly has it licked at every point. It’s also got a decent AF system that I think is better than the Canon (certainly less hesitation). Throw in excellent build quality (the Sigma is surprisingly heavy), the fact you can tune the lens via an optional USB attachment and finally a 3 year UK warranty and there’s little not to recommend it.

The only problem I can see is getting hold of them!

Okay, now for the Otus. Look, the reality is that for most people the Sigma will be perfectly sufficient. We’re testing on a full frame camera – if you’re using APS-C or Super 35mm, the differences will be even smaller. BUT (and I’m afraid it is a big but), the Otus is unquestionably sharper across the lens and if that is of paramount importance (i.e. you use it professionally day to day and only the best will do), then the Otus is for you. As for the Otus having no AF, is that a problem? For filmmakers, of course not. For photographers, possibly. People are used to using AF on DSLRs - thankfully LiveView and Expanded View make it possibly to pull sharp focus on MF but it’s hardly ideal. But with CSC’s with OLED screens, peaking and expanded view, you’d be surprised how easy and quick the Otus is to focus manually – I know, I use one a lot with the Sony a7r and if I can do it, anyone can with a bit of practice!

I met someone at the pub the other night who’s massively into his road bikes. He’s just bought himself a new frame which is apparently even stiffer but also 10% lighter than his old frame. It’s also double the price. Will it make a huge difference to him? Doubt it but it’s his money. If you cycled for a living, the choice would be far easier – you’d want the best you could get your hands on.

Zeiss set out to build the best 55mm prime they could and I for one am glad that the Otus exists – it’s bloody brilliant. That Sigma can get so close to that greatness at the price they have is an astonishing achievement and I bow my hat to them.

A HUGE thanks to James Miller who provided his son (sorry Harry), plentiful assistance, bits of kit (namely the Otus) and a jolly good cuppa.


 
 

May Bank Holiday Offer!

Posted on: 19/05/2014 11:29:00 under News » General 
We're coming up to the second Bank Holiday of May and once again we're offering our early dispatch offer.  That means, subject to availability, book equipment before Tuesday 20th May and we will get it dispatched for delivery on Wednesday 21st.  All equipment will then be collected on Tuesday 27th May.  

THAT'S 5 DAYS FOR PRICE OF A NORMAL WEEKEND HIRE CHARGE!  

We will be offering our 1 day Last Minute Offer but do bear in mind that we won't be dispatching until Thursday for delivery on Friday.  This will be available to book as of Thursday morning.

Normal courier, insurance and minimum hire charges, equipment deposits and delivery conditions apply.  Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.  All offers are subject to availability. And so the next Bank Holiday is almost upon us!




 
 

NAB report Part 2 - Blackmagic, AJA and Red

Posted on: 08/04/2014 18:26:00 under News » General 
Blackmagic Design really rather deserve their own individual blog as, true to form, they came out with some show stoppers!!  We’ll throw in a bit of AJA and RED as well at the end just for good measure. 

It is interesting to note that after the announcements were made yesterday morning first thing, the immediate feedback on Social Media was that they should perhaps work on getting their existing products right before jumping in with even more – it’s an interesting but increasingly frustrating game they are playing with existing owners desperately shouting out for firmware updates. 

So, putting that issue to one side for a brief moment, what did they have on show? First up is the Blackmagic Studio Camera.  


It features a huge 10” viewfinder, 4 hour battery, talkback, tally indicators, phantom powered microphone connections and built in optical fibre and SDI connections.  It’s available in both HD and 4K models, both featuring a new one inch sensor.  


Mount wise it’s Micro Four Thirds.  So there’s no option to record internally – it’s just live feed out – it’s designed to be tethered to one of their switchers but there’s nothing stopping you using the SDI feed to anywhere.  

We’re not planning to stock them as I don’t think our customer base would have any use for them.  If you are interested, please do let me know. 

So we then move onto the biggie (in more ways than one) – the Blackmagic URSA.  They claimed it’s designed for feature films and commercials – you can decide quite who is going to use it for yourself!! 


There’s no questioning it’s quite impressive with a HUGE 10” fold out monitor, two extra 5” touch screens for adjusting settings, controls or monitoring, upgradeable 4K global shutter Super 35mm sensor (yes it’s the same one as in the Production camera) and internal dual RAW and ProRes recorders.  Phew!! 

You noticed I mentioned that the sensor was upgradeable.  Here they have been quite clear as – as and when Blackmagic produce a new improved 4K sensor, all you need do is remove 4 bolts and replace the front module! The dual recorders is a little misleading really as what we’re talking about is hotswapping of card slots – when the first is full, recording will immediately transfer over to the second slot.  On the subject of cards, the camera uses the new CFast format. 


It’s hard not to be overwhelmed initially (and quite impressed) with the 10 inch screen – it’s a bit bonkers but there’s no denying it’s effective.  How good it is in direct sunlight, no-one knows.  Nice to see a simple zoom button on the side for expanded view.  The two touch screens can not only be used as additional monitors but also for controlling all the settings and things like checking waveforms. 


Connection wise, the camera is pretty well catered for.  You get 6G-SDI out that can be converted to HD and hurrah, XLR connections with phantom power.  Timecode in/out and LANC control are also there. Power wise all I can say is hallelujah – external power in the form of either V-Lock or Anton/Bauer.  There’s also a 4 pin XLR 12V input. Initially the camera is available in EF and PL mounts.  

We have an order on an EF mount one.  Whether we’ll stock it really does depend on feedback so please please, do let me know what you think. 

Prize for the most unexpected camera has to go to the AJA CION.  I really don’t think anyone expected this.  


It’s got a 4K APS-C sized CMOS sensor with 12 stops of dynamic range (pretty similar to the Blackmagic Production camera and the new URSA).  It can record 4K, Ultra HD, 2K and HD.  Frame rates up to 50 and 60p are supported, even at 4K.  Codec wise, it records internally in ProRes 4444, ProRes 422 (HQ), ProRes LT and ProRes Proxy.  Lens mount is PL.  


The camera includes a Optical Low-Pass Filter to reduce moire and also a built in IR Cut filter. As it’s PL mount, it’s not really for our traditional customer base but it seems a very nicely sorted bit of kit and is pretty good value.  We will look at it more closely once available.

Finally a mention of RED.  It was really interesting to see a large portion of their stand was devoted to pulling stills from the cameras.  This has always been of interest to me as ultimately this is the way I see the high end stills market going.  Just interesting that there were doing this at a Broadcast Show that deals with motion more than stills.


 
 

NAB report Part 1 - Sony and Atomos

Posted on: 08/04/2014 17:38:00 under News » General 
Sony have been busy people over the last year or so and the fruits of that labour were there for all to see at NAB yesterday.You would have to have been living on another planet not have heard by now about the a7s.  


For the video guys, the BIG news is a full frame 4K sensor with no moire, XAVC-S codec, optional S-LOG 2 gamma and astonishing low light performance.  There’s no internal 4K recording – this would have compromised the size and battery performance of the camera.  You can still take 4K out through the Micro HDMI.  What do you record with?  Well Atomos had the answer in the form of the Shogun but more on that later. 

For the stills world, that low light performance has to be seen to be believed.  It’s a cracking addition to their line up and we can’t wait to get them in stock for you to try.

From the world go yesterday, the Sony stand was buzzing around the a7s area and it’s easy to see why – finally something has toppled the 5D Mk III.  


If you don’t believe me, try watching the comparison videos that Den has done (once they are available I’ll put a link here).  There are issues that need to be sorted such as securing the Micro HDMI as it’s very flimsy.  Sony had a locking mechanism on the a7s on their stand and I’m still trying to get to the bottom of who made it!  I did have a chat with Jens from Zacuto who will be looking to see what they can produce – I’m sure we’ll find a solution by September when the Atomos Shogun is due to be released.

Sony were also showing two accessories for the a7s.  The first was an XLR adaptor – very similar to the XLR-K1M we already stock but without the extension lead.


They also were showing a dummy lens sample – this will be a 28-135mm f4 powerzoom.  


When we’ll see this and other lenses, afraid I can’t say at the moment.

Onto the new AS100VR bullet camera.  I’ve been using two of these now for a while and they really are rather good.  The Steadyshot on them is superb, as is both the image quality and the codec (XAVC-S).  Using them does take a bit of getting used to and I’d love the ability to vary the angle of view but it’s without doubt the best bullet camera Sony have ever produced.  I have several thousand jpegs of timelapse to put together.  Once I get back to the UK, I’ll put it together.


It’s interesting to see that DJI have produced a gimbal mount for the AS100VR.  The low weight, remote wrist monitor and small form factor will no doubt lend itself to that purpose.

Moving on we come to the new Sony PXW-X180.  


Confused by all the camcorders out there?  Well frankly there’s just too much choice but Sony have now come to the rescue.  This three 1/3-inch type Exmor™ CMOS sensors camcorder records Full HD XAVC Intra and XAVC Long GOP, as well as MPEG HD 422 50 Mbps, MPEG HD 420 35 Mbps, AVCHD and DV, making it ideal for a wide range of applications from education/videography to news and broadcast production.  Put simply, it covers all bases!!  

It sits in Sony’s XDCAM range as it predominantly uses dual SxS slots for recording but also it can record proxies onto SD card.  Lens wise, it’s a 25x HD zoom lens with 26mm wide angle and 4 stage ND filter.  We’re just waiting for pricing but I think we will replace all the NX5’s and Z5’s with this camera.  I would be interested to hear if people still want us to stock more NX3’s  - clearly it does depend on how keenly we can offer this camera.

I am hoping to get a sample when we get back to the UK so I can have a really good play with it. 

So I mentioned the Atomos Shogun earlier.  Well we all know much as with the Ninja Blade that something along these lines would come out – was just a question of when!  


The Shogun offers 4K ProRes recording using 12G-SDI and 4K HDMI 2 connections.  The unit is bigger that what we’re used to (but also pretty slim) with the screen now measuring 7” in size – it’s a true 1920x1080 touchscreen with 325PPI and 179 degree viewing.The Shogun can record in 24,25 or 30p from the camera but can also record up to 120fps (if the camera can do it – the a7s can record up to 120fps in crop sensor mode).  For the audio side of things Atomos will include a Lemo breakout cable for XLR audio (including phantom power).  Naturally all the great features of the Blades will be there such as waveforms and monitor assist but having spoken to them yesterday, I understand they are working hard to add more features before the launch.We should have them available at launch around September 2014. 

Last but not least, Atomos also showed the new Ninja Star.  


Think of it as a Ninja without the screen.  If you’ve already got a monitor or need to record ProRes on onboard camera rigs, this will prove very useful indeed.  It’s only 100g so can be mounted pretty much anywhere.  It records to CFast media cards (we’ll be including cards and reader) rather than SSD’s. The great news is we should have them up on the site by next week and in stock for hire by end of May!! 


 
 

Sony PXW-X180 announced at NAB

Posted on: 06/04/2014 23:46:00 under News » General 

So no-one was expecting this one!  Say hello to Sony's new PXW-X180, a  three 1/3-inch type Exmor™ CMOS sensors camcorder that records Full HD XAVC Intra and XAVC Long GOP, as well as MPEG HD 422 50 Mbps, MPEG HD 420 35 Mbps, AVCHD and DV!

Sony has billed it as the successor to the HVR-Z7E, HXR-NX5E and PMW-150.

The camera includes dual SxS memory card slots, proxy recording on SD card, a G Series fixed 25x HD zoom lens with 26mm wide angle and variable ND filter, that provides four conventional mechanical 4 ND filter positions or a linear switch dial for more control in changing light conditions. The camcorder also has wireless functions and NFC (Near Field Communication) capabilities.




 
 

Sony a7s announced

Posted on: 06/04/2014 23:11:00 under News » General 

So finally I can say welcome to the new Sony a7s. It's with huge delight as here is a camera that has the 5D Mk III licked in terms of image quality. Moire? Nope - it samples the whole 12.2mp sensor. Low light performance? Absolutely gobsmaking - you'll be able to see some comparisons that Den Lennie has done with this camera and the 5D Mk III and it is just night and day difference.



So let's go back to the start. The camera has a 12.2mp sensor with ISO up to 409600! I saw movie footage up to 25600 and you really could use it if you had to. So the sensor's good in low light. What really impressed is the dynamic range it was providing - quite incredible - all the footage I saw had been shot using Sony's S-Log 2 gamma.

Recording format is XAVC-S at 50mps. For those that have already had a snub at this being half the bitrate of the GH4, take a look at the footage before you start making opinions - it really is good.

Another interesting add-on feature is slow mo recording in HD using APS-C crop mode at up to 120frames per second.

Everything else is pretty much normal a7 territory. So yes, there will be those that have a moan about the AF and those that don't like the design/form factor but just wait until you see what's been shot on it. Honestly, if you'd said it had been shot on F5/55, you wouldn't have questioned it.

Cameras already on order - as soon as we know more, we'll let you know.


Here is the official 4K footage video -




 
 

It's Easter Offer time!!

Posted on: 28/03/2014 08:51:00 under News » General 

IT'S BACK!!
Get up to 6 days for the price of 2 or
up to 4 days for the price of 1!!!

 
Last year's Easter Offer was so popular we thought we'd do the same again.  If you book now, subject to availability, we will send out your goods on Tuesday 15th April to arrive with you on Wednesday 16th.  We will then pick them up on Tuesday 22nd April.  THAT'S 6 DAYS FOR PRICE OF A NORMAL WEEKEND HIRE CHARGE!  

That's not all - book before the end of March and we'll throw in a further 10% off!There's more!  Those looking for a real bargain and willing to take a chance might like the next option.  As of 2pm on Tuesday 15th April, any equipment still in stock can be booked to be dispatched on Wednesday 16th April for a SINGLE DAY'S HIRE CHARGE - THAT'S 4 DAYS FOR THE PRICE OF 1!!

Normal courier, insurance and minimum hire charges, equipment deposits and delivery conditions apply.  Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.


 
 

Nikon D4S is here!

Posted on: 13/03/2014 09:38:00 under News » General 



It's hard to believe that it's now two years since the D4 came on the scene.  If we're honest, it wasn't the huge leap over that D3S that that was over the D3 but that hasn't stopped it being a very popular camera for rental.

The D4S is once again more of an evolutionary jump rather than a radical change over the D4.  The D4S has a 30% increase in computer power over the D4 - this allows more noise reduction and pushes ISO levels up to a frankly daft 409,600.  It will also now shoot at 11 frames per second with full AF and metering (over 10 with the D4).

There's now a group AF selection with five points that give you better control over the AF area.  Battery life is said to have vastly improved (new battery time!) and is said to be 3x better than the Canon 1DX!

On the back of the camera, the selection buttons have a different texture and the design has been changed with that area being raised - presumably making it easier to press with gloves on.

We have the D4S in stock now to hire - for more details, have a look at its detailed page.


 
 

OMG, we've got OM-D!

Posted on: 13/03/2014 09:27:00 under News » General 
We've been huge fans of CSC cameras and already stock a pretty good range of bodies and lenses.  There's always been a hole in our range that customers have been nagging at us to fill.  Well finally we've sorted it - we now have both the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the E-M5 models.  

The E-M1 we're offering as body only as we've had quite a few enquiries for E-M5 owners who want to give it a go and already have lenses.

The E-M5 is offered complete with a 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ lens, ideal as an entry into the world of OM-D shooting.

Lens wise we kick off with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm 1:2.8M.Zuiko Digital 17mm, M.Zuiko Digital 45mm and M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8.  Don't forget we already stock a good range of Panasonic, Leica and Voigtlander Micro 4/3rds lenses as well!



 
 

Atomos launch Ninja Blade (now in stock)

Posted on: 06/03/2014 07:30:00 under News » General 
I realise this is about a week late in appearing on our blog - sorry, we've been a little bit busy with both BVE and Photography Shows!  The good news is we've already got these great new recorders in stock as we managed to grab some on the announcement day!  You can find out more about them and pricing on their detailed page.

So what's new?  The clue's in the name Blade!  We've already been stocking the Samurai Blade for a while and now the Ninja Blade offers the same 1280 x 720 SuperAtom IPS touchscreen offering 325ppi and a 179 degree viewing angle.

The great news is you can truly use this as a monitor with focus peaking, false colour, zebras and most importantly waveforms and several colour tolls.

We are shipping it out with a 1tb HDD but we also have the option of a 480gb SanDisk Extreme Pro II SSD for those applications where vibration might be an issue.

We're still going to be hiring the Atomos Ninja 2 as it offers an excellent value option for those not needing the extra capabilities of the Ninja Blade.




 
 

Canon confirm updates for C100/C300

Posted on: 26/02/2014 07:17:00 under News » General 

We've already heard about the Canon C100 getting the new Dual Pixel CMOS AF functionality (DAF) - in fact that's due to happen in the next few weeks (we'll let you know as soon as it does).

Canon have today announced that the Canon C300 will now be given the same functionality.  No exact date was announced but I was told yesterday that we're really looking around June.  As as soon as it's available, we'll get ours updated.

Canon also announced a free firmware update to the C100 allowing Continuous Recording.  What is this?  I'm still not too sure (and neither were the two Canon people I quizzed yesterday!).  So here's Canon official wording - 

"Continuous Recording functionality will soon be available for the EOS C100, thanks to a free firmware update that will permit uninterrupted recording1 and the ability for users to set in and out markers directly, in-camera. Selected moments can then be instantly accessed during editing, saving time and effort. Furthermore, the ability to record in full, particularly when shooting significant moments such as weddings or important events, allows users to access moments that might not have been spotted on the day, or to adjust the marked shots for the best possible end result. Compatible NLE software is required to take full advantage of Continuous Recording; at launch the feature will be supported by EDIUS Pro 7 from Grass Valley."

I will get to the bottom of it and work out exactly what it is!



 
 

4K Blackmagic Design Camera Testing

Posted on: 18/02/2014 17:24:00 under News » General 

Once again the Blackmagic Design brand has caused a stir. Why? Last week they announced off the back of the Panasonic GH4 launch that they were dropping the launch price of their 4K Production Camera by £1k! That's a huge drop and suddenly makes it a lot more attractive to some.

We needed to get some experience with what it's like so headed out to play with our friend James Miller. This wasn't a scientific test - more of trying to get a feel for the camera and importantly, understanding the workflow involved.

I think the biggest problem with the BMPC (as we'll now call it) is the fact that it's identical to look at as the Cinema Camera. In reality it's a different machine and really aimed at a different purpose. When the BMCC came out, we had a mad rush of production customers wanting to try it, only to complain about its handling and usage issues and the small sensor - they were really missing the point. The BMCC even in ProRes offers an exceptional image for the money as long as you were willing to put up with its 'issues'. The sad reality is for a great deal of paid work, the client couldn't tell the difference between 8 and 12 stops of dynamic range so why not just use something better suited to your workflow?


The Production Camera is somewhat different. Very simply, if you want a 4K camera with a painless workflow, there is NOTHING to touch it for the price. So how is that different from the BMCC? What we're talking about here is something that is marketable to a client. Sure, most won't ever take you up on 4K output but this camera does allow you to produce very good 4K ProRes which if archived is future proof for the client yet easily converted down to HD.

Soon Blackmagic will offer a RAW update but in all honesty I can't see more than 5% of our customers going down that route as the simple fact is the customer won't pay extra for it. If you're doing your showreel then fair enough but for paid work, it's hard to justify.

So it all sounds like the next Messiah. Surely there must be issues? Well yes, there are. Any BMCC users will be well aware of their idiosyncrasies. The iris control is fiddly using the forwards and back buttons (if you can use lenses with manual rings, it does make life a lot easier). Having to access the menu for changing the ISO is also a chore. The screen on the back isn't bad until you show it some sunlight and then it's of little use - a viewfinder is then essential and you'll need to make sure it's got an SDI input (or least use a SDI-HDMI converter).


We know the battery life is limited on the standard camera but be prepared for worse with the BMPC - we got 25 minutes from full charge recording in 4K with an IS lens!!! Having external power options are essential.

The last point is one of my biggest bugbears of most low-end 4K offerings so far - this camera is lousy in low light. 200ASA and 400ASA are usable but don't bother using 800ASA as it's very noisy - you're better off using 400ASA and pulling it up in post. For most productions, this won't be a problem - you just have to light them properly!! But for doco run and gun work, this won't will any friends at all.

Now onto the good stuff! It's really cheap, the workflow's a breeze and the quality is excellent. Sounds a bit daft but it really is that simple. Taking the ProRes into either Premiere or FCPX was so very simple. Cutting on the timeline was done on my MacPro in realtime with no issues at all. Only when adding any colour processing did my machine start to complain (and it really did). I've yet to try exporting the edited 4K timeline to Resolve - something for another day. If you're after producing something on the fly quickly, set the camera to Video mode which gives very accurate colour rendition that will allow you to push something out pretty quickly without much post... in 4K! If you've sat there waiting endlessly for the computer to finish transcoding before you've even started, you'll know how useful that is.

We're still testing the imagery but so far it's holding up pretty well. Dynamic range seems to be okay (not near the BMCC though) and the camera certainly seems to have a 'look' to it. Pulling focus is pretty important in 4K and the peaking can be a little enthusiastic to select some softer edges as well making it hard to nail. Why oh why can't there be an expanded view - frustrating.

Tomorrow we head off to London to do some side-by-side testing against the Canon 1DC so we'll see how it does. In the meantime, feel free to have a look at James Millers quick short we shot down by the beach. This was the first time he'd touched the camera and our tests ground to a halt once we'd run out of power but at least it gave us an idea.

One quick final note - we used a Tiffen Variable ND throughout the filming and we noticed issues with varying colour balance.  Usually I had the guys from Tiffen here today so brought up the issue.  They are fully aware of it and producing an IR filter which will sit on top of the variable ND to prevent this.



 
 
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