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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.



 
 

Sony announce fastest AF mirrorless - a6000

Posted on: 12/02/2014 09:17:00 under News » General 

Sony today announced the new a6000 (or ILCE-6000 to give it its formal name).  You'll firstly notice that these APS-C mirrorless cameras are no longer called NEX - from now onwards they will be under the Alpha family.  Now we'll be totally honest, the NEX-6 and NEX-7 are not the most popular models on our hire fleet but that probably says more about our customer base and their needs than the cameras themselves as they are very good.

Sony's new full frame a7 and a7r models have been incredibly popular since their launch and I think the reason for this is two fold.  Firstly they are very good full frame cameras and secondly people are starting to embrace the idea of mirrorless cameras as they continue to improve.

One complaint always pointed at mirrorless cameras is the speed of them (or rather the lack of speed), not only in terms of AF but also continuous frame rate.  As little as a year ago, really only Olympus and Panasonic offered anything approaching real speed but given they use a Micro 4/3rds sensor, they did have an advantage.  Fuji was continually improving with every firmware update but it took the launch of the recent X-T1 to show what could be achieved with an APS-C sensor.

Well Sony has gone one step further and produced a camera capable of focusing in 0.06 seconds and not only that but it uses 179 hybrid AF points covering nearly 90% of the sensor using phase rather than contrast detection.  This is really significant as this is truly fast and it allows the camera the ability to shoot at 11 frames a second with AF tracking.  All this is possible because of the new Bionz X processor found in the A7/A7r.   That AF can also be used for video and you have the ability to change the focus speed and tracking delay.


The new 24.3mp Exmor sensor matches up with the Bionz X processor to offer shooting up to 25,600 ISO.  That doesn't really matter - what matters is there's better image quality and lower noise between 1,600 and 6,400 ISO where we really need it.

The body is now mag alloy so it feels a great deal sturdier.  It's not weather proofed but we have to bear in mind the pricing of this camera (it's half the price of the X-T1).  There are other niggles from the video side as there are no mic or headphone sockets either.


The reality is that there will be another model along to sit above this camera that WILL have all these things.  I suspect it will also record in XAVC-S rather than the AVCHD codec that the a6000 uses.

If you're not that worried about video but do events which require a fast camera, this could be an ideal backup.  However you feel about it, it does show that the limitations of mirrorless cameras are getting smaller and you ignore them at your own peril.

The camera is due to be launched in April and we will have it in stock from launch.


 
 

Panasonic announces the new 4K GH4

Posted on: 07/02/2014 09:20:00 under News » General 

So we all knew this was coming as Panasonic has been showing dummy cameras for a while. Well now it's officially launched - the new GH4!

The GH3 has never really been hired for stills so let's focus on the GH4's video capabilities. Big news is it's 4K (well we already knew it was going to be!). So it can capture video at 4K (3,840 x 2,160) at 23.98, 24, 25 and 29.97fps or cinema widescreen (4096 x 2160) at 24fps. Both these formats record at 100Mbps. HD recording at 1080p is offered at with a 200Mbps All-Intra or 100Mbps IPB bitrate. Rather than go through everything, Panasonic have made a table explaining it all that is shown below!

As you can see, the camera is now global - no longer do you need to choose between PAL or NTSC - great news for those that travel and film abroad a lot. Panasonic has included a Variable Frame Rate that enables slow motion capture up to 96fps in full HD. A Time Lapse function is also included within the camera.

The GH4 has a micro HDMI port that outputs a 4:2:2 8 bit or 4:2:2 10 bit (only possible if not recording in camera at same time) clean feed. It's also got full size 3.5mm connections for an external mic and headphones.

Peaking and zebras are now available - you've also got the option of exporting the zebra via the HDMI to an external monitor as well. Time coding is provided in Rec Run or Free Run methods.

Body wise, it's much the same as before with a weather-proof mag alloy body. There's a 3 inch variable angle OLED touch screen (great for selecting AF points) on the back and new 2.36m dot OLED viewfinder which boasts virtually no lag at all.

We've then got the optional AG-YAGHG Interface Unit that can be bolted on the bottom of the camera. This provides a 4K 10 bit 4:2:2 feed via quad SDI connections. Importantly for audio, it provides two XLR balanced inputs with phantom power, audio dials and a levels meter. There's also a external timecode input and a 12V DC input allowing external battery support.

There's no polite way of putting it, the interface is hardly small and it will be interesting to see what the camera feels like with it bolted on. But it does at least give the GH4 users more options for using it.

Want to see what the 4K footage looks like? Well here's Panasonic's official video -



Our order's already in - we're expecting to see the camera sometime in April.  As we know more, we'll let you know!


 
 

Two for one on this weekend's hires!

Posted on: 29/01/2014 14:09:00 under News » General 
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Hireacamera.com - Main Title

This list is being sent to 'Offers' subscribers exclusively first!  You have the first chance to book equipment.  Non subscribers will not be able to book until 12.30pm so that gives you a head start!  If you are a non subscriber and are reading this as a result of linking from our Facebook page, subscribe now to be eligible to book early!

You can subscribe to our Offers Mailing list here!!

Back to the offer - hire anything we have in stock for this weekend and you'll get the weekend's hire for a day's hire charge!  Better still as we're all a bit depressed with the daft weather, to cheer you up, if we've got it here today, we'll send it out a DAY EARLY!

Please do call us if something you want is not listed as we do get last minute cancellations!

Better still, if you're a loyalty card member you CAN use this offer with your discount!

All you need to do is quote our Flyaway Offer when booking!

Normal courier charges, insurance, our minimum hire charge of £30 and deposits apply.  

As always, it's first come - first served. We know the phone goes a bit crazy once this newsletter goes out now so don't delay!

Photo

Nikon D5200
Nikon D80

Nikon D600
Nikon D700
Nikon D800
Nikon D4
 

Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-7
Sony a7
Sony A77

Sony A99


Panasonic GH3

Fuji X-Pro1
Fuji X-M1

Canon 1100D
Canon 650D

Canon 70D
Canon 6D
Canon 7D
Canon 5D Mk II
Canon 5D Mk III
Canon 1DC
 

 

Canon & Nikon flashguns available

 

 

Video


Sony VG900
Sony EA50

Sony MC50E
Sony MC2000E
Sony Z5E
Canon XA10
Canon XF100
Canon XF305
Sony PMW 200
Sony NX5
Sony NX30
Sony NX70
Sony FS100
Sony FS700
Canon C300
GoPro Hero 2

GoPro Hero 3
GoPro Hero 3+

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

 

 

Canon mount lenses

 

Sigma 15mm f2.8 Fisheye
Canon 16-35mm f2.8
Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 EF-S
Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 OS
Canon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 EF-S

Canon 20mm f1.8
Sigma 24mm f1.8
Canon 24-70mm f2.8 Mk I & II
Canon 24-105mm f4

Canon 40mm ST Pancake

Canon 45mm Tilt/Shift
Sigma 50mm f1.4
Canon 50mm f1.2
Canon 50mm f1.4
Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 OS

Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS Mk I 
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS Mk II 
Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8 IS

Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6
Sigma 120-300mm f2.8
Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 OS
Sigma 120-400mm f4.5-5.6 OS

Sigma 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 OS
Sigma 150-500mm f/4.5-6.3 OS

Canon 300mm f2.8 Mk I & II
Canon 400mm f2.8 Mk II
Canon 500mm f4 Mk I


Various Zeiss and Samyang mount lenses - call for details.

 

 

Nikon mount lenses

 

Sigma 8mm Fisheye
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
Sigma 15mm f2.8 Fisheye
Niokn 14-24mm f/2.8
Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 DX
Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VR

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 FX

Sigma 20mm f1.8
Sigma 24mm f.18

Sigma 50mm f1.4
Nikon 50mm f1.4
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR FX Mk I & II
Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS
Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OS
Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 OS
Various Zeiss and Samyang mount lenses - call for details

 

 

Sony Alpha mount lenses

 

Sony 16-35mm f2.8
Sony 24mm f2
Sony 24-70mm f2.8

Sony 35mm f1.4
Sony 50mm
Sony 85mm f1.4

Sony 135mm f1.8
Sony 500mm f4


 

Sony E mount lenses

 

Sony 16mm Pancake
Sony 10-18mm f4
Sony 16-70mm f4
Sony 18-55mm f3.5-5.6
Sigma 19mm f2.8

Sony 24mm ZA f1.8 Zeiss

Sony 30mm Macro

Sony 35mm f1.8

Sigma 30mm f2.8 Macro

Sony 50mm f1.8

Sony E Mount and Fuji XF Zeiss Touits available

Various Samyang E Mount Cine lenses available

 

 

Micro 4/3rds lenses

 

14mm Pancake
7-14mm
12-35mm
14-42mm
14-140mm
25mm Leica
35-100mm
45mm Leica

45-175mm
100-300mm

 

Various Zeiss M mount and Fuji X lenses are available - please call for details

 

 

Please call with regards accessories.

 

 

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Fujifilm announces the new X-T1

Posted on: 28/01/2014 05:30:00 under News » General 

Many expected the next X series camera to be a successor to the X-Pro1 but it would seem we were wrong - say hello to the rather gorgeous X-T1! From the moment you see the photos, you can work out where this is going - Sony a7r and Olympus E-M1 come immediately to mind! The styling is just beautiful but it's also practical. The die-cast magnesium camera body is dust and water resistant - it's also freeze resistant down to -10C. Fujifilm is going to be launching three weather-resistant zoom lenses this year to complement the X-T1 - a XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R OIS WR launching in June and then the XF16-55mmF2.8 R OIS WR and the XF50-140mmF2.8 R OIS WR following later in the year.



There are five mechanical dials on the top-plate (including shutter speed, exposure comp, ISO, metering and drive modes), two command dials on the front and rear and then six fully customisable function buttons - it sounds like Fujifilm has found a pleasing middle ground to keep everyone happy and it should be a joy to use.

You can help but notice the housing for the newly developed electronic viewfinder which Fujifilm claim is virtually indistinguishable from an optical viewfinder thanks to the ultra fast display speed with a lag time of 0.005 seconds, one tenth the speed of conventional cameras. The 2.36m dot OLED display also has a unique wide-angle view with the world's highest magnification for a digital camera at 0.77x.

Fujifilm have also been very clever with the information displayed in the viewfinder with four different display modes including a Dual mode that adds a second small screen for checking focus point with Focus Peak Highlight or Digital Split image. When shooting in portrait mode, the screen will automatically rotate the shooting information!

Sensor wise, it has the same X-Trans CMOS II sensor as the X-E2 which we know is brilliant - it uses Fujifilm's own randomised pixel arrangement to eliminate the need for a low-pass filter and so offers incredibly detail. The X-T1 includes a Lens Modulation Optimiser that matches to individual characteristics of each Fujifilm lens exactly to the camera.
Fujifilm have been getting better and better at AF speeds and the X-T1 is apparently the quickest yet with a response time of just 0.08 seconds thanks to new phase detection. Okay so we're only dealing with an APS-C sensor rather than the full frame one in the Sony's but that's still pretty impressive (and it's one of the Sony's achilles heels). Thanks to the EXR Processor II, the camera has a 0.5 second startup time, 0.05 second shutter time lag and 0.5 second shooting interval (giving you up to 8 frames per second with AF tracking). The camera is also Fujifilm's first to be compatible with the SDXC UHS-II format allowing writing speeds up to twice that of conventional cards. Plenty of SLR users have taken issue with the fact that smaller mirrorless cameras are just too slow to use - perhaps this will change a few people's minds?!

Other points worth mentioning include enhanced wireless functions using a phone or tablet through the Fujifilm Camera Remote App and an interval timer for Time Lapse with intervals of 1 second to 24 hours although at present this is limited to 999 frames.

A Vertical Battery Grip will be available for the camera (shown above) which will also be weather resistant along with four different flash models, dependant your requirements (we're probably only stock the EF-42).

Hopefully we'll have the camera available to hire from in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, here's Fuji's official launch video!





 
 

Fancy being a VIP at BVE next month?

Posted on: 14/01/2014 15:43:00 under News » General 

So next month sees us at BVE in London at the Excel Centre.  We're looking forward to it and will be showing off some new toys including the Canon C100 Cinema Camera with AF update.

We have a few VIP nominations available on a first come - first served basis.

All you need to do is email us at info@hireacamera.com with the following information - 

Title
First Name
Surname
Job Title
Company Name
Email Address
Telephone
Address Line 1
Address Line 2
City
County
Postcode

First twenty to do so will receive their VIP passes.  You can find out more about the BVE London at www.bvexpo.com.


 
 

Nikon D4S on its ways

Posted on: 08/01/2014 16:45:00 under News » General 
We all knew it was on its way.  The question was when.  Here's Nikon's press release...

London, UK, 7th January 2014             
Nikon today announced that it is preparing for the release of its next-generation flagship model, the Nikon D4S D-SLR camera. The camera, designed for the world’s top photographers, will be exhibited before it is officially released at the Nikon booth at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. International CES is one of the world's largest consumer technology exhibitions and runs from 7th to 10th January 2014.

As Nikon's new flagship model, the D4S will offer significant advances over the Nikon D4 D-SLR camera that include even better image quality through the adoption of a new image-processing engine, and more advanced autofocusing performance.

The Nikon D4S represents a combination of Nikon's advanced camera development technology heritage and years of experience working closely with photographers. Designed to expand the possibilities for professional photographers who require the best possible performance in extreme environments, the Nikon D4S will particularly benefit those in the fields of sports, press, and nature photography.

Nikon began as an optical device manufacturer developing and manufacturing optical lenses. This year marks the 97th anniversary of the company's establishment. Nikon will continue to develop high-performance, highly functional products based on the optical technologies it has cultivated over its long history.

Our order is already in.  As soon as we know more, we'll let you know!


 
 

A new ActionCam from Sony - the HDR-AS100VR

Posted on: 07/01/2014 12:04:00 under News » General 
Sony entered the action camera market with the AS15 Action Cam.  In all honesty, its timing couldn't have been worse as within days GoPro announced the Hero 3 Black Edition that firmly showed Sony the door.  It was a shame as in some ways, Sony was onto something.  The design lends itself to applications where the GoPro was bulky but it still required a waterproof housing.  The AS15 had Sony's superb SteadyShot which undoubtably made a big difference but the fact was, the image quality just couldn't begin to compete with the GoPro.  Such a shame.  I saw its replacement, the AS30 and my heart sank as in reality it wasn't going to be enough improvement to even justify stocking.

Then last night we learnt of this - the HDR-AS100VR!  Whilst it may look the same (albeit it's white), it's a whole new animal.  

So let's start with the body first of all.  Very simply it's splashproof so unless you're planning on going underwater, you don't need a housing.  If you're going underwater, you can still get a housing (shown at the bottom of this blog).  If you need to mount the camera sideways or upside down, no worries - you can flip the image accordingly.


On the front of the camera, you'll spot a Zeiss lens - that's a Zeiss Tessar 170 degree wide angle lens.  Behind it is a 13.5 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor backed up by the powerful new BIONZ X image processor.  All bodes well for what should be good image quality.  But it gets better as due to that processor, the ActionCam can record at up to 50 Mbps using the new XAVC S video format (50p).  Want to shot faster?  It will record 120fps at 720p or 240fps at lower res with full sound.

The ActionCam can be controlled wirelessly with the wrist band Live-View Remote which is supplied with the ActionCam.  In fact this unit can now control up to five AS100VR units.  Features include stop/start recording, viewing shots and adjustment of modes and settings.


The AS100VR features a new Interval Still recording function that automatically shoots a sequence of still photos at a selectable interval (between 1 and 60 seconds).  It will then replay them in sequence.

Interestingly for pro users, the camera features colour profiles so you can choose a neutral image profile for grading later in post.  Also this camera features time coding!!!  There is a new function called 'User bit' that can record information such as date/time/scene number - useful when using more than one camera.

Connectivity wise, you'll find it now surprise to see NFC and Wifi so connection and remote control from phones and tablets is a given.  Have to say that PlayMemories App is not quite as slick as the GoPro App but bear in mind you don't really need it when you've got an LCD on the wrist remote - that's a bit advantage over the GoPro.

We'll be expecting to stock these around March 2014 but hope to get our hands on one to try in the next month or so.  You can find out more details about the camera on our detailed page.



 
 

Sony announce 4K AX100E camcorder

Posted on: 07/01/2014 11:01:00 under News » General 
Sony have announced today the new AX100E, their smallest 4K camcorder yet, recording in XAVC S format.

Anyone familiar with Sony's smaller camcorders like the NX30 and NX70 will be firmly at home with the AX100E.

Those that follow Sony's 4K history will know that they announced the AX1E (or Z100 for pro users) last year at IBC. Thing was, in all honesty it wasn't really ready to go as it could only record in XAVC (S for the AX1) - AVCHD recording is still yet to come with a firmware update and you're confined to using XQD media which is pretty expensive, certainly compared to SDHC. We were also not hugely impressed with the low light performance but then think back to the good old HD/SD debate some 9 years ago. The FX1 and Z1 were rubbish compared to the good old PD170 simply due to fact you were cramming more pixels into the same space and expecting them to be sensitive enough to overcome their smaller size. Wasn't going to happen.

So is the AX100E any different? Well it uses a new backlight 1 inch Exmor R CMOS sensor which is good news as at least it's starting off with a reasonably sized sensor. It would be interesting to find out if this is related to the one in the RX10 as we know that is already pulling all the info off the sensor and then digitally downsampling to HD (although this one is backlit). The AX100 features the new BIONX X image processing engine - it's this that's allowing that 4K processing power (once again something that the RX10 possesses). So could the RX10 be already capable of filming in 4K? Question for another day!
Back to the AX100E, size wise it's in between the NX30 and NX70 which equates to being some 75% smaller and 66% lighter than the AX1/Z100. So small enough to be reasonably compact but big enough to at least handle.

The BIONZ X processor uses area-specific noise reduction and detail reproduction processes to offer the best possible image in compromised conditions. We know Sony's good at low light performance so it will be interesting to see how this compares to the AX1 (which is disappointing).

Lens wise, there's a newly-developed Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 12x optical zoom with 11 groups & 17 elements. It features Sony's brilliant Optical SteadyShot. It's good to see Sony's included 3 ND filters built into the camera.

Handling is pretty good with a large lens ring that can be allocated to focus, zoom or exposure. You've still go the side-mounted dial that you can also the assign to things like gain.
Sony's has given the AX100E Dual Video Recording so you can record on XAVC S (at up to 4K/60Mbps or HD/50Mbps) or AVCHD formats whilst at the same time recording a lower resolution MP4 format which can then be transferred wirelessly to a tablet for either review or sharing! Connectivity is provided by WiFi and NFC so you can download to a tablet or use it to remotely view and control the camera.

Audio is handled either internally on the built in 5.1 system or there is a stereo minijack input. You do have the option of attaching balanced XLR inputs via the hotshoe. Media is either SDXC Class 10 or above or Memory Stick PRO Duo (Mk 2) or above.

Sony have mentioned that the camera can capture at a high frame rate at 720p. Still trying to get to the bottom of what that frame rate is - bear with us!

We're still not quite sure whether the camera will be Global or not as Sony's press release spec is rather confusing. As soon as we know, we'll update this.

The camera should be with us in May. Expect Sony's PSE division to come out with a Pro version using the XAVC codec which offers even higher bit rates.

Sony have released some sample footage, shown below -



 
 

New Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2R announced

Posted on: 06/01/2014 17:59:00 under News » General 

Fuji have announced today the arrival of the new XF56mm f/1.2R lens.  This is going to really appeal to portrait photographers with a 35mm equivalent of 85mm and a very fast max aperture of f/1.2.

Like the XF23mm f/1.4R, the 56mm is constructed from metal (including the aperture and focusing rings) to give a nice quality feel.

Optically the lens features 11 elements in 8 groups to deliver excellent results.  Fuji have included their HT-EBC coating to reduce ghosting and flare whilst the seven blade rounded diaphragm ensures a creamy smooth bokeh effect that most will be buying this lens for.


 
 

Sony announce the new HXR-NX3

Posted on: 10/12/2013 17:43:00 under News » General 

So say hello to Sony's new AVCHD camcorder - the HXR-NX3.

Look familiar? Well it should as visually it's pretty similar to the good old Sony HXR-NX5. We're a great fan of the NX5 as for video journalism it's perfect - good quality and nice and easy to use. The NX3 differs in using AVCHD 2 which allows full 1080 50p recording at 28Mbps. The camera also features Slow & Quick Motion - available without any extra processing - which allows the frame rate to be set between 1fps to 50fps. The three CMOS sensors are all new at 1/2.8inch in size boasting good dynamic range and excellent low light performance.

You've got dual media slots so you can record either in simultaneous or relay modes. Interestingly enough, you can also configure different start/stop buttons for each card slot!!

The lens looks the same as the NX5 but nothing wrong with that - a 20x optical zoom. There's a larger 3.5" LCD display (up from 3.2"). There's a built in LED light - yes, it's not huge but better than nothing, putting out 200 lux at 1m.


You've got Wifi/NFC for remote control from a tablet. It is also supposed to transfer MP4 video to a smartphone via Wifi. Both of these functions are accessed through the Sony PlayMemories app - we've had varied success with different models so will be interesting to test this.

We suspect that this camera will just build on the NX5's demand as a surefooted performer than can cope with most scenarios and provide even the beginner shooter with excellent footage.

We should have the cameras in stock Jan/Feb 2014. Until then, feel free to have a look at Sony's official video, DP'd by our good friend Den Lennie. After that, have a look at the BTS video - some interesting tips for you!













 
 

Canon C300 firmware update now available

Posted on: 29/11/2013 08:17:00 under News » General 

Good news - Canon have finally now sorted the C300 firmware update. It had been made available a couple of weeks ago but there was an issue with colour balance. This has now been sorted and we will now get our models updated.

Details of the update are as follows -

EOS C300 Cinema EOS Camera & EOS C300 PL Cinema EOS Camera
1. Fixes a phenomenon where the previous Firmware Version 1.1.0.1.00 offered incorrect colour balance.
2. Ability to move the magnification viewing area around the LCD using the MAGN Function.
3. Support for a 1440x1080/35Mbps recording mode.
4. ISO up to 80,000 has been added.
5. Added functionality to support the optional Canon GPS Receiver GP-E1.
6. A Key Lock menu setting has been added which now makes it possible to lock all operations, including the START/STOP button.
7. Using the optional Canon WFT-E6 Wireless File Transmitter, the camera's remote-control application allows two users to access the same unit via a Wi-Fi® link providing simultaneous camera operation and control and metadata input simultaneously.
8. [Lens Exchange] and [ND+/ND-] have been added as functions that can be allocated to any assignable button.
9. A new Wide DR Gamma setting provides an expanded dynamic range of 800%.
10. Flicker Reduction has been improved.

EOS C300 Cinema EOS Camera only
11. Provides Push Auto Iris and One-Shot AF operation.
12. A new AE Shift function and the selection of various light-metering modes are now available when used with some Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and Canon EF Lenses.
13. Ability to assign the two control dials to operate either Iris or ISO sensitivity independently.
14. Peripheral Illumination Correction Data has been added for seven (7) Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and fifteen (15) Canon EF Lenses.
15. A function has been added to enable continuous focus and iris setting on a subject in the middle of the screen when one of the two EF STM lenses** is attached.
**[EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM], [EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM].


Gamma information will not be shown correctly in the metadata of clips filmed on the Wide DR Gamma setting included in Firmware Version 1.1.0.1.00 and above when using the bundled software application Canon XF Utility Ver.1.3.1 or earlier. Therefore, we recommend our customers install Canon XF Utility Ver.1.3.2. The installer for this application has already been released.



 
 

Come and see us at BVE North!

Posted on: 06/11/2013 11:57:00 under News » General 
Is it that time of the year already?!  Yup, next week we head up to Manchester for the BVE North show.  We'll be bringing along some equipment and are obviously on-hand to try and answer any questions we can!

The show runs for two days - Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th November from 9.30 to 18.00 on the Tuesday and 9.30 to 16.30 on the Wednesday.

You can find out more about the show by looking at the BVE North website.


 
 

Canon announces Dual Pixel AF for C100

Posted on: 06/11/2013 09:49:00 under News » General 

The Canon C100 has been a very popular camera for us.  Why?  Because it's got a great sensor, it's really portable and the image quality is superb.  You can have a lovely short depth of field shot one moment and next close the lens down, bump up the ISO and treat it like a ENG camera.  If you're worried about the AVCHD quality (which is more than good enough for most people), bolt on a Ninja (a lot of our clients do more for ease of workflow).  In fact our only real gripe with the camera is the lousy viewfinder but we can offer a Zacuto ZFinder that solves that one!

Up to now, the camera has supported One Touch AF with AF enabled lenses.  This is hugely useful when you run out of hands or time to grab a shot.  Canon did announce that the C100 would be upgraded to use the STM lenses for full time AF but today they have announced another little surprise - the addition of Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus.  We first saw this on the EOS 70D and I'm a real fan of it.  Yes we don't need to use AF all the time but sometimes it's really useful (imagine having face tracking when filming bride and groom walking down aisle and still with a short depth of field).

One Touch AF fans will be delighted to hear that the camera's focus speed will double as well!

We'd expect Canon to announce more STM lenses going forwards as they are far quieter for this application but the AF will work with any EF/EF-S lenses.

The only big shame is not having a touchscreen for shifting focus points - this has been incredibly useful on the EOS 70D, just using your finger on the LCD to change the point.  It's a really good feature.

We'll be upgrading our C100's as soon as it becomes available and as we're buying more of them early next year, all of them will be suitably equipped.

Below is the official release from Canon -

Canon has announced a major feature upgrade for its EOS C100 digital cinema camera, with the addition of Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus. This technology, first seen in the EOS 70D DSLR, offers continuous autofocusing with all EF and EF-S lenses1 and will be available from Q1 2014.

The EOS C100 is a large sensor video camera designed with the single shooter in mind, already offering functions such as One-shot AF, Push Auto Iris, auto white balance and built-in microphone to aid individual camerawork.

Dual Pixel CMOS AF expands shooting possibilities for lone users by providing smooth, accurate autofocus with a huge range of lenses. For cameramen requiring more precise control the responsiveness of the One-shot AF function has been greatly enhanced through a doubling of the camera's focus speed.

The upgrade, an extra-cost option, utilises the existing Super35mm sensor in the EOS C100. It will be implemented at Canon Regional Competence Centres and is expected to be available in Q1 2014.

WHAT IS DUAL PIXEL CMOS AF?
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is a sensor-based, phase detection autofocus (AF) technology designed to provide smooth, high-performance continuous focus in movies.

It is a unique, Canon-developed technology, ideal for fast and accurate autofocus, helping filmmakers to create stunning footage which maximises the creative options offered by fast lenses and shallow depth-of-field.

First seen in the EOS 70D DSLR, this groundbreaking advance has now been adapted to fit the capabilities of the EOS C100 and optimised for video shooting, providing fast, natural focussing in a familiar visual style. Capturing a subject and retaining sharp focus, even when moving, has never been easier.

DUAL PIXEL CMOS AF COMPATIBILITY WITH EF LENSES
Dual Pixel CMOS AF provides continuous autofocus with any EF lens1, spanning EF and EF-S, fixed focal length, wide-angle and telephoto lenses. One-shot AF operation is supported by 104 different EF lenses. The system marks a significant advancement with greatly improved AF speeds.

EVOLVING GROUNDBREAKING TECHNOLOGY
With the ability to make a subject stand out with a limited depth-of-field, comes a requirement to keep control over focus if the main subject moves or the point of focus changes. Dual Pixel CMOS AF was developed so that control of focus during moviemaking is made easier and smoother.

Although Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology was not fully developed when the EOS C100 started shipping, it was identified as an opportunity to offer users enhanced functionality and added value at a later date. Canon has since developed the supporting technology to provide the benefits of Dual Pixel CMOS AF in a large sensor camcorder.

EOS C100: A LARGE SENSOR CAMCORDER
Launched in 2012, the compact C100 features a specification designed around the needs of single operators. Its advanced imaging system utilises the widely used AVCHD codec, with a 35mm CMOS sensor capturing 8 megapixel resolution to provide 1920x1080 (Full HD) resolution video. Recording on SD cards1 at up to 24Mbps with 4:2:0 colour sampling, the C100 delivers sharp, vivid, professional-quality video. An uncompressed signal can also be output directly to external recorders via an integrated HDMI terminal, complete with embedded timecode data.

KEY FEATURES OF DUAL PIXEL CMOS AF IN THE C100
  • Continuous AF with all EF and EF-S lenses
  • Improved One Shot AF – now twice as fast and compatible with 104 EF lenses
  • AF LOCK function allows user to change the framing
  • Stable AF movement
  • Reduced focus ‘hunting’


 
 
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