We love the Canon EOS-1D X. Sure, it's overkill for most people and the Canon 5D Mk III will do a pretty fine job for most applications but you have to be impressed with the 1D X. It's ability to deal with rapid fire applications is astonishing.
Interestingly Canon have released details of an upcoming firmware upgrade saying that 'the features provided by firmware Ver 2.0 are designed for more efficient automation that takes the task of changing settings from the 'heat of the moment' and enables photographers to concentrate on creativity and more efficient operation.'
Full details from Canon are shown below -
EOS-1D X Firmware Version 2.0
Firmware Version 2.0 incorporates the following key functional enhancements:
Improvement of AF accuracy in low light with AI Servo
The new firmware further refines the AF sequence in order to improve autofocus performance in low light. The AI Servo focusing algorithm has been improved to allow more time for light sampling during AF activation prior to shutter release, enhancing AF performance in low-light situations. This is due to the initial AF control being based on the new “+2 focus priority” setting in AI Servo 2nd Image Priority, which has better measurement capabilities under low-light conditions. Upon full depression of the shutter button, settings from AI Servo 1st Image Priority take over and then settings from AI Servo 2nd Image Priority are applied on any subsequent images in the burst. This increases AF performance in low light while ensuring the probability that the first image in a burst sequence will be as sharp as possible.
Expanded AF parameters
To improve tracking performance, additional parameters for acceleration/deceleration tracking in AI Servo AF have been added to provide photographers with more precise control when photographing rapidly moving subjects that may quickly or suddenly accelerate or decelerate. In response to feedback from professional photographers, two new settings have been added to handle slower changes in speed compared to the previous firmware. Currently, the AF parameters are -1 / 0 / +1. The new firmware enables the parameters to be increased to -2 / -1 / 0 / +1 / +2. This is a feature that sports photographers in particular will find useful, when shooting over a long distance or where obstacles such as football players cut across in front of the main subject during tracking.
Improvement in exposure control
A new feature that utilizes the EOS-1D X’s wide ISO range. The new firmware enables greater exposure control when using Auto ISO. Photographers can set aperture and shutter speeds as desired and still achieve the correct exposure when the light conditions change whilst retaining creative control. In response to user feedback, Canon has increase the minimum shutter speed option of Auto ISO to enables photographers to freeze moving subjects by now being able to select a minimum shutter speed as high as 1/8000th of a second. Exposure Compensation can now be used with Auto ISO in manual exposure to adjust the exposure for challenging lighting conditions (e.g. a very dark or very bright background). This new function can be activated through the Quick Control Dial or by using the Main Dial while pressing the SET button.
Increased customisable options
Faster control is the goal of firmware Version 2.0 by increasing the number of customisable features. It is now possible to assign the ‘One Shot/AI Servo’ setting to M.Fn2 button, for example. This new customisation enables a combination of selectable settings to be assigned to the AE Lock and AF-ON buttons via Custom Controls include: Currently selected AF point vs. pre-registered AF point, AI Servo AF configuration sets (Case 1 through Case 6), One-Shot AF vs. AI Servo AF and Currently selected drive mode vs. 14fps Super High Speed drive mode. With these new options, photographers can reconfigure their EOS-1D X camera on the fly, while keeping their eye on the viewfinder to maintain concentration. For example, the camera could be set up for One-Shot AF and single shot drive mode on the shutter button, AI Servo AF in Case 1 with high-speed continuous drive mode on the AE Lock button, and AI Servo AF in Case 4 with super-high-speed 14fps continuous drive mode on the AF-ON button.
EOS-1D X Firmware Version 2.0 is available to download from January 2014. Firmware Version 2.0 is for cameras with firmware version 1.2.4 or earlier.
Another week and another show! This time it doesn't involve a huge trip as it's just up the road at Brands Hatch Race Circuit in Kent. We'll be there with some sample kit and would love to see you for a chat! Registration's free - click on the image above to go to the Photovision website.
It's no secret that I'm huge fans of both the Sony RX100 and RX1. The RX100 is everything you'd want a compact to be with its excellent 1in sensor. I know of many pro photographers that have one in their arsenal for pleasure and also as backup. The RX1 produces just stunning results and is the first Sony camera for a while that our regular customers haven't wanted to hand back!
Sony have decided to expand the RX range further with the introduction of the RX10 premium bridge camera. Bridge cameras have always had a bit of bad image for real enthusiasts as they have always been a bit of a compromise with a mediocre long zoom lens and small sensor - the upshot being that unless the light was great, the performance was less than ideal.
The RX10 is somewhat different. First off, it's got the same 1" 20.2 megapixel sensor as the RX100. That's a great place to start as I've used the RX100 in plenty of low light situations and it never ceases to please. Next off is the lens - it's quite special. Sony have fitted a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mm (35mm equiv) zoom lens with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8!! Better still it also incorporates Optical Steadyshot. So finally we really do have an great option for those wanting an all-round performer without the need to carry numerous lenses (I can see this being very popular on safari).
AF is said to be speedy and responsive, thanks to a new Direct Drive SSM mechanism. Lock-on AF accurately tracks moving subjects, even it is disappears momentarily behind something in the foreground and then reappears. There's a choice of three selectable sizes for the spot AF frame. This can cut the risk of accidental focus errors with very small subjects (you do have a macro option available).
To view your subjects, Sony have incorporated a new high-contrast OLED Tru-Finder offering a wide (33 degrees) viewing angle. The 3" White Magic LCD tilts up and down allowing you to hold the camera high or low.
The RX10 features on-board WiFi and NFC connections, allowing easy transfer of footage or remote control from your smartphone or tablet.
Finally let's cover the movie side of things. Footage can be shot in 25p/50p in AVCHD with full control in manual mode. Sony offer a clean HDMI out feed allowing footage to be recorded on an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja 2. We have still to find out whether Sony have finally included an expanded focus in movie mode or a histogram. As soon as we get our hands on one, we'll let you know! There are jack connections for audio and headphones and you'll be pleased to see you've got an audio level meter and adjustable levels. Additionally you can add the XLR-K1M adapter kit to give you pro-quality sound recording with two balanced XLR connections.
Now we've had the new Sony a7/a7r Full Frame Mirrorless camera announced, it seems fair to expect some new lenses to use with them! Well, this morning 5 new lenses were announced, 3 from Zeiss and 2 from Sony.
Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS
So this is quite exciting as this is Zeiss' ever full frame E-mount zoom lens. The 24-70mm focal range has to be one of the most popular with 35mm shooters as it lends itself ideal for everyday shooting whether it's portraits or landscapes you're after. The lens features Optical Steadyshot giving you assistance at slow shutter speeds.
The lens design features five aspherical elements with one ED glass element. The T* coating cuts glare and internal reflections to boost contrast.
Finally the lens is resistant to dust and moisture.
Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA
So to the first of the primes, this is an obvious choice for portraiture and low-light shooting, offering a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture. This also should produce a lovely bokeh.
The lens contains a 9 blade circular aperture and like the other full frame lenses, is dust and moisture resistant. The T* surface coating is used to ensure glare and internal reflections are cut to a minimum.
Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA
The second of the Zeiss primes offers the popular focal length of 35mm. As this was designed primarily for street photographers, it was made small and light (weighing only 120g). As with the other full frame E-mount lenses, it features the T* coating to cut down on glare and is dust and moisture resistant.
FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS
This is expected to be the 'kit' lens offered with the a7 if you don't buy it body only. The good news is that it features Optical SteadyShot. You might need it as the maximum aperture ranges from f/3.5 to 5.6. Again it's dust and moisture resistant. Unlike the other lenses, we have no plans to stock this lens for hire as we suspect that everyone will want the Zeiss 24-70mm in preference!
FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS
This is a really interesting lens as this is the first really premium mirrorless telephoto zoom. The lens has been designed to be used with the Sony a7/a7r for sports and wildlife applications and offers a maximum f/4 aperture throughout the focal range. You've also got Optical Steadyshot to help you out as well.
The optical design features Advanced Aspherical elements, Super ED and ED glass elements and Sony's Nano AR Coating is designed to reduce flare and ghosting.
Design wise, it looks like someone's shrunk a full size 70-200mm as it features barrel-mounted buttons for focus hold, focus range and panning modes. And of course it has monopod mounting as well.
All of these lenses will be appearing around early December and we'll look to stocking them as soon as we can (with the exception of the 28-70mm).
So we knew this was coming - it was just a question of when. Sony showed that the full frame sensor could fit in the E Mount when they launched the Sony VG900E. The question thereafter was just how long before they come out with a full frame mirrorless camera.
Well the wait is over as they have announced this morning the Sony a7 and Sony a7r. Both cameras feature a full frame 35mm sensor - the a7 has an updated version of the 24.3 megapixel sensor that's found in the Sony a99 SLR camera, the a7r features a 36.4 megapixel sensor with no optical low-pass filter.
Both cameras are E Mount so have an endless range of possibilities in terms of lenses. It's worth noting that any current Sony, Sigma or Zeiss E Mount lenses will NOT work at full 35mm on these cameras - they would automatically crop the sensor. Thankfully Zeiss have brought out three new lenses that we'll cover in the next blog post along with two new offerings from Sony. If you're a Canon lens owner, Metabones have already launched a Mk 3 version of their adapter which accommodates the full frame sensor without vignetting.
The bodies themselves are well finished. The top housing and internal structure are constructed of magnesium alloy (the a7r also has a mag alloy front structure). Importantly the cameras are dust and moisture resistant.
Both cameras feature a new BIONZ X processor that delivers faster processing speed and most importantly excellent low light performance. Natively both cameras support from ISO 100 to 25,600 (expandable down to 50).
Focusing was always an issue with the Sony RX1 (a camera we still love to pieces) so what have Sony done to improve the a7? The a7 has an enhanced Fast Hybrid autofocus system combining phase detection AF with accurate contrast detection AF. Sony claim it achieves among the fast autofocusing performance of any full frame camera. To quote them - 'Even when capturing a subject partially turned away from the camera with a shallow depth of field, the face will be sharply focused thanks to extremely accurate eye-detection (eye AF) that can prioritise a single pupil. First, the phase-detection AF with 117 densely placed phase-detection AF points swiftly and efficiently move the lens to bring the subject into focus. Then contrast-detection AF (25 points) fine tunes the focussing in the blink of an eye.' It's worth noting that the a7r uses only the contrast detection so focusing will be slightly slower.
Sony have always been pretty good with viewfinders and the a7/r features the same OLED EVF found in the a99 (albeit with 5 levels of brightness adjustment rather than 3). They also feature Sony's excellent tilting screen design.
We're delighted to see that Sony have incorporated both WiFi and NFC on the a7 range. We just hope that it's implemented better than with the Sony NEX-6 which is a little fiddly.
Movie wise, we all hold our breath so see just how the cameras will perform. It's still early days but we do know that the cameras are PAL/NTSC compatible so expect 25p/30/50p/60p. There's no mention of 24p so far on the press release but I understand from Sony that it does feature it. All will be recording on AVCHD2. Good to see is a clean HDMI feed and audio level controls. You'll also find both headphone and mic sockets on the side of the camera. As with the Sony a99, you'll be able to connect the Sony XLR-K1M XLR adapter kit which will give you two balanced channels.
Both cameras are supported with new accessories, the first of which is the VG-C1EM battery grip that extends shooting time by using two FW50 batteries.
We've already put our pre-order in and expect to see the cameras probably early December. In the meantime, feel free to have a look at the launch video.
One of my favourite lenses is the Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS
L simply because it’s a great all rounder.
Okay so the zoom control at its widest is a little fiddly but it covers
a lot of scenarios and having the IS for shooting movies is a Godsend. I had someone who had moved camp to Nikon ask
me the other day why oh why don’t Nikon make anything similar.
Well at present they don’t but his prayers
are about to be answered. Sigma have announced this morning their new 24-105mm F4
DG OS OSM, the next launch in the Art section of the Global Vision range. You would need to have been on a different
planet over the last year not to have heard just how good their new lenses have
become so it is with great anticipation we receive news of this new lens.
No word quite yet on when we’ll be seeing them but our
order’s already in! Below is Sigma's official release about the lens.
SIGMA 24-105mm F4
DG OS HSM Digital SLR cameras have been
evolving rapidly, and more and more photographers have been seeking a lens that
can bring out the potential of a high-resolution sensor. There are occasions
when photographers select zoom lenses as they offer more convenience than a
fixed focal length lens, yet they do not want to compromise on image quality.
SIGMA has long tackled this task to provide excellent quality images for such
occasions. We are proud that SIGMA 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM meets these
requirements and is the standard zoom lens from our "Art" line,
offering stable and fine image quality from wide to mid-telephoto range. It has
a combination of fixed aperture and a good zoom ratio that we kept as high as
possible. Many simulations were carried out before achieving this goal, and
made the specification compatible with 35mm full size image sensors. Moreover,
it was designed to surpass the quality inspection of the original MTF measuring
system, A1, so it has succeeded in creating superior image quality for the new
standard of high-spec cameras.
of view differs on cameras to which the lens is attached.
Corresponding AF Mounts: Sigma,
Sony, Nikon, Canon
and Petal Hood (LH876-02) supplied.
* The Appearance
and specifications are subject to change without notice.
Our Art line delivers high-level artistic
organizing all its interchangeable lenses into three product lines;
Contemporary, Art and Sports. Designed with a focus on sophisticated optical
performance and abundant expressive power, our Art line delivers high-level
artistic expression. Developed with the maximum emphasis on artistic touch,
they are designed to meet the expectations of users who value a creative,
dramatic outcome above compactness and multifunction. Along with landscapes,
portraits, still-life, close-up and casual snaps, they are perfect for the kind
of photography that unleashes the inner artist. Ideal for studio photography,
they offer just as much expressive scope when capturing architecture, starry
skies, underwater shots and many other scenes.
Covering the standard
shooting range of 35mm full size image sensor
convenience of a zoom lens enables photographers to capture various subjects
without the need to change lenses. The SIGMA 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM is the
perfect lens in this respect as it covers the basic shooting range from wide to
mid-telephoto. Moreover, its constant aperture of F4, OS (Optical Stabilizer)
and HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) enhances the lens’ usability. It is ideal for
portraits, landscapes and general photography.
Superior image quality
This is a
lens that represents the concept of our “Art” line, and it meets the highest
standard of our quality test. For those standard lenses with a high zoom ratio,
they tend to show astigmatic aberration, field curvature, distortions and color
aberration. In order to compensate for these, various types of high-performance
lenses, such as FLD, SLD and glass-molded aspheric lenses including
double-sided aspheric lens, have been included into the optical system. In
addition, it suppresses chromatic aberration very effectively at telephoto-end,
and achieves superior image quality throughout the zoom range. This lens
overcomes low peripheral brightness that is common for those lenses with
similar specifications. Also, the wide filter size 82mm is contributing for
superior optical performance.
incorporates an OS system which offers superior stabilization, making it
possible to compensate for camera shake even in macro range photography where a
small blur can be easily identified.
The lens' wide zoom ring ensures
convenient handling. Putting the zoom ring in front allows the lens barrel to
be more compact. The inner focusing system eliminates front lens rotation,
enhancing the lens' stability and allowing useof Circular Polarizing filters.
Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
ghosting were thoroughly measured and monitored from an early stage in the
lenses development to establish an optical design which is resistant to strong
incidental light such as backlight. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare
and ghosting and provides sharp and high contrast images even in backlit
focusing distance of 45cm
minimum focusing distance of 45cm and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.6,
this lens is excellent for close-up photography.
(Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures a silent, high-speed AF function. Optimizing AF
algorithm, smoother AF is achieved. It also enables full-time manual focusing
capability which allows sensible focus adjustment by simply rotating the focus
The 9 blade
rounded diaphragm creates an attractive round bokeh at large-aperture settings.
The new product lines incorporate rubber
for the attachment part of the provided lens hood. For better usability, the
designs of the lens cap and AF/MF changeover switch have been improved. In
order to ensure high accuracy of the product, all metallic parts and the new
compound material, TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), which has a high affinity
to metal parts, are housed internally. On the zoom ring, the last three digits of its release year are
engraved so the lens can be identified according to the year of its launch.
Brass made bayonet mount
incorporates a brass made bayonet mount which has both high accuracy and
durability. A special treatment to reinforce its strength is applied to the
surface giving it greater strength and making it highly resistant to long-term
Newly developed “USB DOCK” exclusively for
new product lines
the lens to an optional USB DOCK plugged to your computer and using dedicated
software “SIGMA Optimization Pro”, you can update the lens firmware and adjust
parameters such as focus.
Evaluation with Sigma’s own MTF measuring
We used to
measure lens performance with MTF measuring system using conventional sensors.
However, we've now developed our own proprietary MTF (modulation transfer
function) measuring system, called A1, using 46-megapixel Foveon direct image
sensors. Even previously undetectable high-frequency details are now within the
scope of our quality control inspections. The SIGMA 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM will
all be checked using this “A1” before they are shipped.
“Made in Japan”
All Sigma’s manufacturing processes-
right down to molds and parts, with a few exceptions, are carried out under a
single integrated production system entirely in Japan. We like to think our
products are somehow imbued with the essence of our homeland, blessed as it is
with clean air and water, and focused, hard-working people. We pride ourselves
on the authentic quality of Sigma products, born of a marriage between highly
attuned expertise and intelligent, advanced technology. Our sophisticated
products have satisfied professionals and lovers of photography all over the
world, because our manufacturing is based on genuine craftsmanship, underpinned
by the passion and pride of our experts.
Specification (For Sigma mount)
Construction: 19 elements in 14 groups | Minimum aperture: F22 | Filter size: ø82mm
| Angle of view (35mm format) : 84.1°-23.3° | Minimum focusing distance: 45cm/17.7in.
| Dimensions (Diameter x Length): ø88.6mm x 109.4mm/3.5in. x 4.3in. | Number of
diaphragm blades: 9 (Rounded diaphragm) | Maximum magnification ratio: 1:4.6 |
So say hello to the new Nikon D610! Look familiar? Well that's because it is very closely related to the current Nikon D600. Ah yes, the Nikon D600 - the camera that Nikon still emphatically refuse to acknowledge that there's a problem with them collecting oil and dust on the sensor. Honestly for us, it's not a huge problem, merely an inconvenience, as we always check and clean sensors in between hires and so far no customers have complained (usually because they haven't shot enough to witness the issues in extreme). But we know the issue exists as the frequency of cleaning is way way higher than any other SLR we stock. So it's frustrating that Nikon still doesn't acknowledge there is an issue and it was with a chuckle that we saw the launch of the Nikon D610 - the major change over the D600 being..... yes, you guessed it..... a newly designed shutter mechanism! Clearly there's no confirmation yet as to whether that has solved the problem (although we suspect that Nikon will have made damn sure it has).
So let's leave the D600 issues behind and look at the new camera. It can now shoot at 6fps up from 5.5fps on the D600. Not a huge gain and you're probably not going to really notice the difference. What could be more useful is the quiet continuous mode which shoots at 3fps and it a lot quieter than normal shooting mode (although it's still going to be a lot noisier than using a CSC camera). Lastly the white balance system has been updated to give more realistic skin tones and produce more accurate colour balance.
So are we going to be stocking the D610? I'm afraid not - there just isn't enough improvement to really justify the purchase and in reality, the D600 is nowhere near as popular for hire as its bigger brother, the D800.
To be honest, that's a shame as the D600 is really a cracking camera offering exceptional image quality. It shoots well at higher ISO's and the dynamic range and information in the RAW files is mighty impressive. It also has a solid feel with a weather sealed magnesium body. My only real gripe with the D600 is for video. Why push a camera as having extensive video options yet you can't adjust the aperture in Live View?? Crazy.
So don't consider a D600 for video (unless you like to leave everything on Auto). But please do consider it as a good value full frame Nikon camera as it really is that good. If you want to buy one, now is a good time - just make sure you know how to clean a sensor as you WILL need to do it - not every day, probably not every week - but you will need to do it more than with other cameras.
We'll keep hiring out the D600 and indeed have slightly dropped the price to make it just that bit more tempting.
So we knew this was coming as I saw the prototype version of this back at Photokina last year and have since then seen sample images shot on one. To say they are quite incredible just does not do this lens justice. It's big, heavy and expensive but Zeiss wanted to produce the ultimate lens without compromise so that's what it had to be!
Sensors in SLRs have been getting higher and higher in resolution and this puts enormous demands on the performance of the lens. We've had a few people complain to us about images taken on the Nikon D800 only to find it was actually their lenses at fault, not the camera!
The idea with the Otus range is to produce lenses without chromatic aberrations and ensure perfect image quality, even with the lens wide open (which is quite often where others fall short). The lens is based on a floating elements design with 12 lens elements in 10 groups. This includes a lens with an aspheric optical surface and six lenses made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion. The unique variable lens arrangement within the lens ensures excellent imaging performance over the entire focusing range – from 0.5 meters to infinity. Colour fringing and distortions are not visible.
On the subject of physical build, the lens is as you would expect for something of this level. The focus operation is smooth with a large angle of rotation to allow the finest adjustment. You'll notice yellow labels (just like on their Master Prime cine lenses) to ensure easy readability (and perhaps to just show others just what glass you're using!!).
The lens has already won the iF Product Design Award 2013. We think it's rather special and will be looking to stock the lens initially in Nikon mount but with a view to adding a Canon mount lens soon after.
If you'd like to find out more about the lens, please do have a look at Zeiss' video below
Next week sees us back at the Ageas Bowl cricket ground for the Photovision Roadshow. The organisers have promised a new format with the Photographers Equipment fair. If you still want to have a look at some new kit, pop over and say hi!
So it's not been THAT long a time since we announced the arrival of the GoPro Hero3's. So what have GoPro done to the camera now and is it really worth worrying about?
To look at the only way you'll tell a difference between the two cameras is the '+' on the front. It's not until you look at the housings you'll tell a huge difference. GoPro decided to sacrifice a little depth ability (it's now rated at 40m rather than 60m) but the difference in the size of the housings is significant. All the buttons are bigger and way easier to press - I've always found them a bit hit and miss in the past. One last thing, the camera appears to fit far more snuggly into the housing now, which should reduce any chance of excessive shake.
To the camera itself - if you compare closely with the GoPro Hero 3, you will see a change in the lens. This is because it's now got a new f/2.8 lens which is supposed to be a huge improvement (we'll be testing side by side later today). Dynamic range is said to be improved (and going by the official video below, you can see this). There's a new wifi chip that boasts greater speed which should mean less latency using the smartphone app. What would be nice would be an extended range but it doesn't look like that's the case.
Battery life is a huge issue with the GoPro Hero 3. Indeed, we've had customers accusing us of supplying defective equipment, so bad was the performance compared to the Hero 2. GoPro has put a higher power battery in the 3+ (1180mAh against 1050mAh) and has done some software optimization to ensure power consumption is as low as possible. GoPro claims a 30% improvement which might be possible but so far we've been playing with it alongside the 3 and there's no doubt the battery isn't draining as fast.
A lot has been mentioned about the SuperView mode. Very simply the GoPros have a 4:3 sensor and so for normal footage, it crops the top and bottom of the sensor to produce 16:9 images. This SuperView mode uses the whole sensor and then conforms it to 16:9. You'd think this would squish everything but to be honest, for action footage it's pretty good - people don't look anything like as 'deformed' as you would expect by doing this!!
There's a new Auto Low Light mode that will automatically adjust the frame-rate to improve low-light performance. If you're shooting at 60fps in 1080p mode, the camera can drop down to as low as 24fps to let more light on the sensor. We need to really put both cameras side by side to test this as any advantage wasn't immediately noticeable.
Last but not least, the mics have been redesigned with one on the side and one on top. Again we want to test more side by side but so far we reckon background noise is lower with the +.
The cameras only arrived yesterday but we'll be getting them up on the website shortly for booking!
Canon announced today that the EOS-1DC has been independently tested in accordance with European Broadcasting Union standards for HD content acquisition and has been found to be the first DSLR to ever provide an image of high enough quality for use as a broadcast production tool.
The results showed that the EOS-1DC provides 'exceptional' HD resolution for a 4K source with 'very low' aliasing and 'good' colour performance and motion portrayal. The test results also confirm that the EOS-1DC camera system and its imaging performance comply with the recommended specification for inclusion in HD Tier 1 for HD production.
2013 really should be known as 4K year and IBC next week shows no sign of changing the current tune. We suspected something 4K flavoured would appear on the camcorder side from Sony and here it is - the new Sony PXW-Z100.
As you can see, it looks like pretty much any other Sony camcorder and anyone familiar with a Sony HDV/XDCAM/NXCAM camcorder will feel right at home.
The camcorder is built around a new 1/2.33" Exmor R CMOS 4K sensor recording 4K at 50p and 60p. On the front of the camera is a Sony G lens with 20x optical zoom with a useful wide angle of 29.5mm (35mm equiv).
The PXW-Z100 uses Sony's XAVC recording format. Bit rates work out at 500Mbps, 600Mbps and 223Mbps during 4K 50p, 60p and HD recording respectively. A firmware update is planned later in 2014 to support a Long GOP mode for extended 4K recording time and also support for AVCHD (strange this wasn't added from launch as surely it will be AVCHD customers that will be looking at this camera???).
Recording media is Sony's XQD memory card. We've already seen them in Nikon's D4. They are not desperately cheap (£180 for 32gb) but they are coming down in price now. The camcorder has two XQD slots allowing hotswapping. Interestingly the camcorder also has an SDHC slot that will allow simultaneous recording on AVCHD once it becomes available.
Connections wise, the PXW-Z100 has an HDMI interface outputting 4K as a 50p/60p signal allowing viewing when connected to a Sony 4K-compatible TV. A future upgrade is planned to allow compatibility with the new HDMI 2.0 standard which will allow 4K connectivity to other devices. A 3G HD-SDI interface is also included.
Another buzz feature at the moment is WiFi remote and the PXZ-Z100 is no exception in featuring control using the browser function of a smartphone or tablet.
We'll be having a look at the camcorder next week at IBC and will report back then. Our initial concern is over the cost of recording media and its initial lack of AVCHD for current HD shooters - will that stop people considering it? Time will tell.
Price wise, although we have yet to have this confirmed, hire charges will be -
Daily £102, Weekend £155, Weekly £389 ( all inc VAT including a 32gb XQD card and reader).
We'd expect Sony to start shipping towards the end of 2013.
Canon has decided to make a raft of announcements before IBC on its current cinema range which can only be good news for us shooters.
The ISO on the EOS C300 and EOS C100 (and the C500 which I’m afraid we don’t and will never stock) has now been extended from a maximum of ISO 20,000 to IOS 80,000. Canon claim this will allow you to shoot in even more extreme low light conditions whilst still capturing detail and colour. Users will now be able to shoot in 1 stop or 1/3 stop increments from ISO 320 through to ISO 80,000.
A big issue with the C300 and C100 was the fact that the magnify feature only allowed you to magnify the central portion. This has now thankfully been changed so you can choose between 25 different segments of the image in view (much like with the SLRs).
A new option allows users to lock all functions, including the REC button, when the Power switch is in Lock mode and great news – it will be possible to assign either ISO or IRIS control to the main body and hand grip dials on the C300.
The C300 also follows the C100 in having the option of wide DR gamma – this offers 12 stops of dynamic range when shooting in Canon Log gamma but produces a far less flat image which requires a lot less grading and post work.
Also in common with C100, the C300 will also offer support for the STM range of lenses with continuous AF and enhanced AE options.
The 1DC comes in for some improvements. On the visual side support for the EF Cinema lenses has been improved with Peripheral Illumination and Chromatic Aberration Correction functions designed to improve image quality. On the audio side, you will be able to take a Line feed into the jack mic input as you will be able to select between Line and Mic levels.
The firmware updates are going to be available towards the end of the year. Naturally as they become available, we will update our stock.
We've seen a huge rise in demand for Sony's E Mount and have committed to stocking the full range from not only Sony but Zeiss with their Touit lenses.
It's been a while since Sony launched a new E Mount lens so it's good to see a few come along at the same time (although really it's only two new lenses).
Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
First off is the new Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS. As its name suggests, the lens comes with Zeiss' T* coating reducing glare and ghosting plus it also has Sony's Optical Steadyshot. Those good at maths will have already worked out the focal range is 24-105mm in 35mm full-frame equivalent. Build wise, the barrel is metal so expect Zeiss levels of quality.
Finally we have a decent quality zoom lens with good constant aperture. This is the first E Mount zoom lens that photographers can take seriously. It also should be quite an interesting lens to bolt on the front of E Mount camcorders, especially with the Steadyshot.
E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS
Next up is the E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS. This is the first ever Sony G lens specifically created for the E Mount cameras and camcorders. The zoom range is pretty generous at 5.8x (27-157.5mm 35mm full-frame equivalent), all with a constant aperture of f/4. Whilst this is not a Zeiss lens, Sony's G range are very much their pro range so expect build quality to be good. It's worth noting that very usefully the overall lens length remains unchanged during focusing and zooming.
Speaking of zoom, the lens has a power-zoom function that is controllable either on the lens itself or in the case of camcorders with zoom control (like the EA50), on the camcorder itself. Last but by no means least, the lens also features Sony's excellent Optical Steadyshot.
E 50mm f/1.8
Last up is the E 50mm f/1.8. The sharp eyed reader amongst you will have spotted that this lens has been out for a while. Well yes it has in silver form. Sony has now decided to launch it in black!
But we don't mind as the two other lenses really are great news for both still and video E Mount users. We've already got them on order with Sony and are expecting delivery around the end of October.
We're hoping for yet more sun to come for the August Bank Holiday but even if it doesn't, we'll do our best to put a shine on things!!
As with previous years, we're offering our normal 3 days for the price of 2. Hire for the weekend and we'll throw in Monday 26th August for nothing. But that's not all - if you order by Wednesday 21st and we have the equipment in stock, we'll send it out early. That means you could have up to 5 days for the price of 2!!!
The earlier you book, the more chance you have of securing your kit!
* Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, discount or loyalty scheme. Minimum hire charge of £30, normal courier charges and deposits still apply.
Whilst we have always upgraded our delivery service to a pre-12pm level, having to wait around for collection all day has always proved an issue for customers and up to now, we have been powerless to solve this unless the customer was willing to take the packages to a depot.
No longer! UPS have introduced local Access Points that allow you to drop equipment off as and when you want. Most are open early and late so even if you work, you should still be able to drop back out-of-hours.
Available for either Fuji X or Sony E mounts, the new Zeiss Touit lenses are now with us. Initially available in 12mm f/2.8 and 32mm f/1.8 sizes, this range will be expanded further later this year and again next year.
As the new models arrive, rest assured we'll be one of the first companies to stock them!
When Canon announced the Live View AF feature in the Canon EOS 650, we got very excited. Had they really produced a DSLR that could rival a camcorder for Autofocus? Sadly the answer was no - it's a cracking camera but just don't expect its AF to work that quickly.
Today the new Canon EOS 70D has been announced and this time it appears that Canon might have cracked it.
So what's changed? The EOS 70D's new 20.2MP APS-C sensor now features Dual Pixel AF technology. Two photodiodes are mounted in one pixel, both of which can read independently to achieve AF or be used together for image capture. This Dual AF technology covers 80% of the sensor meaning exceptional AF and image quality can be achieved and very importantly it will work with a very large number of current EF and EF-S lenses. In essence what this all means is that autofocus is live view is hugely quicker than previously possible.
To handle the sensor's power, it has been combined with Canon's DIGIC 5 image processor which we know is very impressive and together they give the camera an ISO range of 100-28000 expandable to 25,600 equivalent.
It gets even better as the new 3in rear LCD is now touch sensitive, allowing touch AF in Live View for shooting stills or video. It's a Vari-angle screen, allowing tilting and swivelling.
Continuing on the AF theme, there is now a new dedicated AF area selection button next to the shutter release. This ties in with the 70D's intelligent viewfinder to allow focus modes to be changed without having to pull the camera away from the eye. AF modes can be toggled through using the top dial.
Burst rate is set at 7fps and Canon reckon that with a very fast SDHC card, the camera will take 16 RAW or 65 large JPEGS before it hits the buffer.
Movie frame rates at full 1080 HD include 24,25 and 30fps. 50 and 60p are available but only at 720. Videographers get a mic input but sadly no headphone monitor. We're still not quite sure if you can control mic gain yet and as it hasn't been mentioned yet, we're assuming the HDMI feed is not clean (we'll check this out as soon as we get our hands on it).
Wifi is built in allowing control using Canon's remote app.
The camera will be available towards the end of August - we have already put our order in! We've also ordered the 18-55mm STM and 18-135 STM lenses as well.
So everyone's question over what's going to replace the Sony PMW-EX3 is finally answered. Say hello to the PMW-300
It's very similar to the older camera in using 1/2" Exmor CMOS sensors but there's nothing wrong with that - the EX3 was always very good. Low light performance is said to have been improved.
The big (and most obvious) point here is the important 50Mb/s 422 broadcast codec (Sony promises the 10 bit XAVC codec will be available for the camera next year).
Mount wise, it's the same as the EX3 so you can use the same lenses and adaptors. The camera is available at launch with either a 14x or 16x zoom lens.
The design of the camera is quite different to the EX3 - no more upward slanting at the rear - the body is very much more rectangular. For shoulder mounting, there is an extendable shoulder pad that you can pull out.
The 3.5 inch LCD viewfinder is all new and to look at it looks very similar to the one of the PMW-F5.
Interface wise, the camera comes with both HD/SD-SDI and HDMI connections.
It is due towards the end of the year and we will get the camera up on our website once we have the full details.