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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!


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




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
25mm Leica
45mm Leica



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 - 

First Name
Job Title
Company Name
Email Address
Address Line 1
Address Line 2

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 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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

  • 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’


The Nikon Df - a new classic?

Posted on: 05/11/2013 08:42:00 under News » General 

So here is Nikon’s new SLR. We’ve been teased over the last couple of weeks as to what it might be so, what is it exactly?

It takes only a millisecond to see where Nikon is aiming this camera – with a design going back to the look of classics like the F3, it’s bound to pull on the heart strings of older Nikon users that just want a decent old fashioned camera, without the frills, but with the image quality.

The top of the camera is covered with an array of knobs for shutter speed, ISO and exposure control and a very small digital display - it's old school.

The good news is that the 16.2mp sensor is taken from the D4. It’s coupled with an EXPEED 3 image sensor giving a native ISO range of 100-12,800 that can be expanded to an ISO equivalent of 50-200,800.

The new shutter unit is capable of shooting at up to 1/4000th sec. The Df is able to shoot continuously at 5.5fps.  The AF unit is taken from the D610 and is a 39-point system. That’s a shame as it’s not as good as the D800’s 51-point system.

The viewfinder is the same as in the D800 and D4 providing 100% coverage and 0.7x magnification and on the back you’ve got a decent 3.2in LCD.

Build quality is something you’d expect with the Df and magnesium alloy has been used for a fair amount of its construction – the body has the same level of dust and moisture resistance as the D800. 

Two things apart from the design show where this camera is aimed. Firstly there’s no video function at all. I do get lots of older Nikon shooters (most retired photographers) that have a go at me at shows for Nikon not having a non-video camera. So here you go – Nikon has answered your prayers – one less thing for people to complain to me about!!!

The second point is the Df’s ability to use a collapsible metering coupling lever which means you can attach non-AI older lenses. So in Manual or Aperture Priority modes, this enables full-aperture metering. Clearly manual focusing is going to be an issue and Nikon have allowed the focus point illumination to be turned off in the viewfinder. Not only that, Nikon claim to offer an improved Live View display (though quite how it can improved beyond magnifying the view shall be interesting to see). Peaking would have been nice.

So it’s small and lightweight for a D-SLR which is great news. The design will appeal to a great many people. There will be little to fault with the build quality and we already know what great IQ the D4 has so no complaints there.

BUT (and it’s a big but) I see literally thousands of photographers around the country each year and if I’d actually had a pound for every single person that has complained to me (mostly D700 users) that Nikon have ignored their plea to introduce a true successor to the D700, I’d be writing this somewhere very hot and sunny on a beach. Why oh why, if Nikon’s going to build new models out of its existing technology, can’t they just put that D4 sensor in the D800 body and charge a realistic price for it? People have ageing D700’s that need replacing!  And that's before we get to those waiting for a true D300s replacement.

Retro is cool no doubt but at least the likes of Fuji and Olympus have pushed the boundaries with new technology and produced stunning cameras in their own rights, regardless of how they look.  I can't help feeling that Nikon's too late with this (and also is somewhat ambitious with its pricing).

I wish them all the luck in the world with this camera but I can’t help but feel there will be a fair number of Nikon photographers who will be just shaking their head.

Foolishly I’d hoped that there would be significant advances here. Most bizarrely it seems that it’s down the likes of Sony and Fuji to push new barriers. Nikon still have a gaping hole in its range for their pros. Whilst Canon have possibly the best DSLR range they have ever had, let’s hope they now take the opportunity to show us something forward thinking.


Christmas Offer 2013

Posted on: 30/10/2013 16:40:00 under News » General 

Where has the year gone?!  The clocks have gone back and Christmas is only around the corner.  Last year we were told off for not posting up our Christmas offer early enough so we've hopefully done better this year!

Unlike last year, we're clearly explaining right from the start how the offer will work.  Regardless of what price you pay, we plan to deliver our Christmas hires on Wednesday 19th December.  Clearly we don't know what the weather has in store but we will aim to get the equipment out as soon as we can that week.

Collection will be Thursday 2nd January 2014 for all bookings (unless you have extended your hire).  

So how does the charging work? It's simple - the later you book, the cheaper the hire will get BUT if you are after a specific camera, lens or accessory, you run the risk of it being booked out!  Rather than customers working by guesswork, these are the dates when it all changes - 

Any bookings made up to the end of Saturday 30th November - the charge will be equivalent to a one week hire.

Bookings made from Sunday 1st December until the end of Sunday 8th December - the charge will be equivalent to a weekend's hire.

Bookings made from Monday 9th December onwards - the charge will be equivalent to a day's hire charge.

Last year our warehouse was completely empty and we would expect this year to be no different.  All we would suggest is if you are after something specific and perhaps in high demand, don't leave it too long (and before you ask, all Sony a7/a7r's have already been booked!!!).

*Standard courier charges apply and insurance will charged for the full length of hire.  Please note that this offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or special Club/Organisation discount.

All bookings will be treated on a first come, first served basis.  Please note that making an enquiry, either by email or phone, or submitting an availability request does not constitute booking the equipment.


Christmas Opening Hours

Posted on: 30/10/2013 11:27:00 under News » General 

As with last year, we are staying open late for both the Monday and Tuesday in the last run up to Christmas. Our last day of dispatch is Thursday 19th December. Please bear in mind that in the event of adverse conditions, we may have to move this earlier. If we do, we will also move our late nights earlier to give people the chance to ensure they can get their bookings through in time.

Our usual opening times are from Monday to Friday : 8.00am to 6.00pm.

Monday 16th December 2013 LATE NIGHT 8.00am to 8.00pm
Tuesday 17th December 2013 LATE NIGHT 8.00am to 8.00pm
Wednesday 18th December 2013 8.00am to 6.00pm
Thursday 19th December 2013 LAST DAY OF DISPATCH 8.00am to 6.00pm
Friday 20th December 2013 LAST DAY OF DELIVERY 8.00am to 6.00pm
Monday 23rd December 2013 8.00am to 12.00pm
Tuesday 24th December 2013 CLOSED
Wednesday 25th December 2013 CLOSED
Thursday 26th December 2013 CLOSED
Friday 27th December 2013 CLOSED
Monday 30th December 2013 CLOSED
Tuesday 31st December 2013 CLOSED
Wednesday 1st January 2014 CLOSED
Thursday 2nd January 2014 FIRST DAY OF COLLECTION 8.00am to 6.00pm
Friday 3rd January 2014 FIRST DAY OF DELIVERY 8.00am to 6.00pm


Treat someone to a Gift Voucher

Posted on: 30/10/2013 10:17:00 under News » General 

We know only too well how hard it is to sometimes think of Christmas presents.  Well we've come to rescue - give them a Hireacamera Gift Voucher.

Yes we know it's still October (just) and Christmas for a lot of us is still a while away but it's always good to be prepared!

We can offer you vouchers of any size you want (we did have some quite amusing amount requests last year).  All you need do is give us a call with your details and we'll do the rest!

Better still, if you buy the gift vouchers during November, as part of our 10th anniversary celebrations, we'll add in a small present of our own - we'll give you 5% off!  So if you purchase a £100 voucher, you'll pay only £95!


Digital Imaging Show - Exeter

Posted on: 26/10/2013 09:31:00 under News » General 

This Monday, 28th October, we're off to the Sandy Park Conference & Banqueting Centre near Exeter (it's just off the M5 by the Exeter Services) for the next Digital Imaging Show.

You'll find us there with a load of other exhibitors and there are free seminars during the day.


Sony RX10 - the one stop solution?

Posted on: 26/10/2013 07:01:00 under News » General 

It’s easy with all of the massive coverage of the new Sony a7/a7r to overlook Sony’s other release but in some ways I think the new Sony RX10 could be at least, if not more, significant.

We get lots of customers wanting a dual purpose camera that does pretty much everything and it’s not just for personal use. Businesses are no different in their needs and much like everyone else, they have a limit to their expenditure and just how much kit they want to carry.

So what if you do want something that does everything? Surely there are compromises? Of course there are. Let’s stick around the £1,500 mark for expenditure. What does that buy you?


On the camcorder side, I’d recommend the Sony NX30. I know of several very well known filmmakers that have bought these little beauties. Why? Because they are so great for simple pieces to camera. The Steadyshot lets you get away with murder, the Exmor chip punches beyond what you’d expect for its size, you’ve got XLR balanced connections and it’s even got a projector for reviewing footage (and it’s not a gimmick – I’ve used it in several hotel rooms!).

But if we had to take some serious still images with it, the honest answer is it doesn’t really cut the mustard. Yes it will shoot stills at same time as video and yes, you can shoot with a resolution as high as 24.1 megapixels. But the reality is it is a pain for trying to shoot decent stills.

So let’s look at things from a camera point of view. The best option I’ve tried recently is the Canon 70D – I took one with me to IBC recently as I needed something to record videos on new products for our internal training but I also needed a decent camera for shooting stills to then transfer up to the web for customers to see new products.

I’ll be honest, it was a superb solution and my opinion of the camera was very much transformed. I was doing solo pieces to camera on a small tripod so having a reversible screen made it easy to frame up. I left the focus on AF with face tracking and not once did it miss a beat. The stills were as you’d expect from a Canon DSLR. The great thing was being to immediately pull them over to my iPhone via WiFi for posting up on the web.

Were there any issues? The 70D is not great at shooting video in low light and like many DSLRs it does suffer from moire and aliasing so you need to just bear in mind what you’re shooting (and to an extent what you’re wearing!).

But wouldn’t it be nice if there was something that was really dual purpose – that combined the best qualities of these two cameras in one package? Well I do think that perhaps the new Sony RX10 is just that.


It looks like any other bridge camera so nothing to exciting there. But when you start to look further into it, you discover something way more exciting. The sensor is the same 1” CMOS sensor found in the RX100 with a powerful BIONZ X processor backing it up. You’d expect a reasonable zoom range on the lens and you’d be right – it’s an impressive 24-400mm (35mm equiv) focal length. What you wouldn’t be expecting is that it’s got a constant aperture of f/2.8 and is actually a Carl Zeiss T* coated lens!!! That’s hugely significant because typically with lenses of this ilk would be sporting apertures of around f4.5-5.6.

So surely with a lens like that, it’s not what you’d call small. Well, true, it’s not as compact as most mirrorless cameras but it’s comparable to one of the smaller DSLR’s with a kit lens. It’s worth mentioning now that the camera is moisture and dust resistant as well.

Looking first at the photo side of things, it really is incredibly easy to use. The Sony RX100 is one of our favourite pocket cameras as that image chipset packs a huge punch and the RX10 doesn’t disappoint. I first got my hands on one whilst sitting at the back of an auditorium watching Philip Bloom giving a presentation in what can only be described as appalling light. Yes I had to bump up the ISO but with Optical Steadyshot and that excellent lens, I was astonished with what I got away with (please read this in perspective – this is only a 1” chip so don’t go expecting full frame sensor levels of low light performance). I then took the camera outside and snapped away – what impressed me was how easy it is to use. You’ve got an iris ring on the lens barrel and the rear dial adjusts shutter speed. Turning the menu dial adjusts ISO. If you want to shoot in Priority mode, you’ve got exposure compensation right on top of the camera. Zooming in and out can either be done with the zoom ring or by the servo button by the shutter release.

The OLED Tru-Finder is great to use. You can control the amount of info you want to see in it which is nice. It’s not quite as big as the a7 one but I suspect that was to try and keep the housing size down. The LCD tilts up and down and is pretty good, even in bright light. Thing is with such a good viewfinder, I found myself rarely using the LCD anyway.


Those that dread Sony’s NEX menus (they are an acquired taste) will be delighted to hear the RX10 uses Sony’s Pro menu system. If you’re used to Canon menus, you’ll be right at home. There’s also a quick menu which gives you access to the most used options instantly. And it gets better, the button layout is hugely configurable. You can select nearly any function (I understand it’s about 40 – the list was quite long!) to one of 6 buttons. Want expanded focus or peaking? Not a problem.

So we’ve established that it shoots great stills. But it gets better as the RX10’s trick card is just about to be dealt – shooting movie.


So let’s first talk about the connections here. The camera’s got two 3.5mm jack connections – one for a stereo microphone and one for headphone monitoring. It’s also got a Micro-HDMI port that supports uncompressed clean HDMI! Finally you’ve got Sony’s hotshoe assembly that they introduced first on the a99 and VG900. This means you can attach an XLR adaptor to the camera giving you two balanced inputs.

From an operational point of view, Sony have really thought about using this camera. Turn the camera upside down and you’ll find an option to de-click the aperture!! Yup, that gives you smooth noise-free adjustment of the aperture ring during filming.

Focusing wise, you can choose to use AF or MF. The AF is pretty good and the face tracking works really well. It’s worth just mentioning at this juncture that the RX10 uses just contrast detection and doesn’t have the phase/contrast on-sensor combo of something like the Canon 70D. But because it’s a smaller sensor, the AF’s not working as hard and to be honest, I thought it was pretty quick (just not as quick as the a7 I’d just put down which is FAST). Manual control is okay – just bear in mind that there is no direct connection between the control ring and the lens. You’ve got adjustable peaking and expanded focus to help you out (and they work during recording as well).

One addition I wasn’t expecting was the ND filter option. You can either assign it to a customized button or it’s one click away in the Function menu. Both Kanta from Sony’s Pro Team and I were trying to figure out how this worked. I can only assume it electronically reduces the sensitivity of the sensor as we couldn’t see any physical action switching between it. However it does it, it really does work. We were testing on an unusually bright day outside the bright white building at Pinewood Studios and having just put down an a7 that was screaming out for a variable ND to put on the front, the RX10 really showed off its ‘solution in a box’ credentials.

So all good but it doesn’t stop there as there is something very significant that I didn’t actually realize until Kanta explained to me. Very simply, the camera doesn’t skip lines when processing the video off the sensor. It actually uses the entire pixel array for each frame (up to 60 times a second) and then sub samples the raw image data digitally to produce the final HD 1920x1080 video. So in theory there should be a massive reduction in moiré compared to normal large sensor still cameras. As far as I know, this is the first camera to do this.  It's not a case of manufacturers not knowing how to do it, merely a case of processors not having been quick enough before to cope.  The camera was only a prototype so I have to take the footage as only being an indication of what it will be in the full production camera but I thought it was hugely impressive.

Frame rates, it supports 24/25/30/50/60p rates recording on AVCHD up to 28mbps to SD cards.

Whilst some may see it as a gimmick, I love the Wifi/NFC connectivity. Using Sony's PlayMemories App, you can not only transfer photos to your camera for sharing but you can also remotely control the camera (start/stop & zoom) and use your phone as a monitor - useful for one man shooting and framing.

So where’s the catch? Well clearly the sensor isn’t going to be as good in low light as larger sensor cameras – that much was clear when we compared the a7 to the RX10 when shooting Phil at the back of the auditorium – there was a significant difference. The XLR connection can be a bit of a pain – you need to use a bracket. If you use Sony’s, it stops you tilting the LCD. It’s all small things but at least we CAN put XLR connections on the camera. There’s still nothing stopping you just putting a Rode mic on top anyway!  Whilst we're on the subject of sound, I do need to point out that you've got audio monitoring on the camera and you can adjust the audio even whilst you're recording!

I’m not a huge fan of fly-by-wire manual focusing but I accept that you have to draw the line somewhere in such a complete solution. We also found that the servo zoom significantly slows down when recording – I assume that’s to keep it quiet.

Lastly you’re stuck with that lens which might be a bit restrictive for real shooters. Fine, use a D-SLR then. For me, having a built in f/2.8 with a 24-400mm equiv lens, makes this camera so unique. Okay, I accept that it’s effectively an equivalent aperture of about f/7.6 but it let’s in a damn site more light than anything else out there.

So who’s going to use this? I can see huge potential for this camera. Our corporate clients will absolutely love it as they’ve got a one stop solution that’s incredibly easy to use and cost effective with it. I suspect our stock will be well travelled – we support a huge number of charity trips to the far corners of the earth where dual purpose equipment is favourable.

The great news for everyone is that Sony has really pushed things on and I know they are not stopping there – there are plenty more ideas!

We should have the cameras end of November with a full range of accessories to support them.


A play with the new Sony a7 and a7r

Posted on: 25/10/2013 00:19:00 under News » General 

The strangest thing happened to me today – I came away genuinely excited from playing with some new Sony products. I am one of their greatest fans but I am also one of their harshest critics (as certain members of both the Professional and Consumer teams will happily testify to!).

So often in the past I’ve eagerly awaited a new model’s arrival only to be hugely disappointed after getting my hands on it. The Sony a99 was supposed to be one of those cameras yet despite it still being a very impressive stills camera (we have one at home and are very happy with it), for something pertaining to be biased towards movie making, it was a disappointment. Yes it had some great features never before seen on an SLR sized camera BUT it omitted some essentials that should have been there and would have completed it.  Once again, it was a case of ‘if only’.

If I am truthful, I could sense the frustration because the fact was, Sony had the knowledge to produce something far better – the question remained as to when, if ever, we were going to see it.

One thing that was going to cause issues - however great an Alpha camera became, it still had an Alpha mount. The simple fact is not many a shooter has Alpha/Minolta lenses or at least if they do, they are in a small minority. This was where Sony’s E-Mount really made huge sense and when the Sony VG900 was finally launched, that had confirmed what we all needed to know – the E-Mount could contain a full frame 35mm sensor. That same E-Mount with adaptors could take nearly any lens mount.

From then onwards, it was just to be a waiting game – how long before Sony would come out with something and more importantly, would it be any good or just another frustratingly lost opportunity?

By the time most people had woken up to the news of the Sony a7/a7r, I’d already committed to buying them. Once again, I’d decided to part with some quite serious money completely blind (I’d also ordered a suitable stock of lenses and accessories as well) and so I had more than just a vested interest in getting my hands on them!

Today I did just that and I’ll cut to the chase, I have no wish to cancel my order at all. We’ve all now read reviews, watched Youtube videos and already feel we know the cameras without even seeing them in the flesh. But still there’s nothing like actually getting your hands on something!  This wasn't so much a technical test - more like getting a feel for the camera and giving some feedback to Sony.

So what’s so good? Well if you’re a movie shooter, you’re going to be happy to hear that for the first time ever, all the functions operate independently of each other. That means if you want to shoot manually but still have push to touch AF, you can – no longer is it a case of either fully auto or fully manual. The custom keys are infinitely configurable and allow you to add things like peaking (in a range of colours and intensity), zebra and expanded focus (that also works whilst you’re recording). You can configure the LCD screen to what you want to display but now it includes a histogram in video mode along with real time audio monitoring (and again, you can adjust whilst recording). I should mention that you can also attach balanced XLR inputs via the hotshoe.

So what’s it like to handle? Well, first let’s get the bad news over and done with. The start-stop button is not really well sited. You need a third joint in your right thumb to really press it without causing some shake – it’s a shame but I did find myself getting more used to it. The customizable buttons work well and I found pretty quickly I could use them by touch with my eye up against the OLED viewfinder.  Ideally I'd have liked a bigger eyecup but it's workable.  Ah yes, that viewfinder - it works very nicely indeed. Sony produces some of the very best OLED screens and this one is no exception - everything you see on the LCD is replicated in the viewfinder, great for days like today when it was just too bright to see the screen at times.

Those who despise the NEX menu system will be delighted to find the Alpha pro system. Everything’s pretty explanatory and there’s a function button to take you quickly to the most used functions.  Because you can use this and the custom keys, it's rare you have to enter the menu.

I used the a7r first with the Zeiss 50mm prime. I’ll be honest, for manually focusing it’s not great – as the focus ring is not directly connected, it can be a little hit and miss pulling focus. I doubt this will be a huge concern for most movie shooters as they won’t be using these lenses anyway – they’re more than likely to use existing glass with adaptors. (One quick note – if you’ve already got an EF Metabones adaptor, unless it’s a newer Mk3 version, you’ll have problems with vignetting - IS works fine though.) You have got AF there if you want it. On the a7r, it’s acceptable – I wouldn’t call it dramatically fast but it’s not that bad at all - comparable with the Canon 70D.   Like that camera the a7/r come with face tracking which worked well on video.

So the question on everyone’s mind – what was the footage quality like? Well I only had the cameras for a brief play and whilst I was allowed to keep the footage, it’s still a pre-production camera. However, considering the pixel count and lack of low-pass filter, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it did have slight issues with some fabric shots but then that’s to be expected, surely? We expected the a7 to be better (more of which in a bit).

Codec wise, it’s a global camera so you’ve got AVCHD 24/25/30/50/60p all recording onto SD card. It’s also got a clean HDMI output (although it is micro-HDMI which is a bit fiddly – we’re going to have to find a fixing solution before customers break them!).  You also got separate jack connections for mic and headphones.

Onto stills with the a7r and just wow! Comparisons have been made with the Nikon D800 and judging by what I’ve got on my Mac, that’s not completely unfair. Whilst I have access to RAW files, only Sony’s Digital Image Converter will handle them which is a shame as it’s not the greatest bit of software. Colours were nicely represented and the detail is definitely there in the shadows and highlights – it’s just such a pain to do anything in DIC.  Hopefully Adobe will have support for it soon enough. 

Focusing on stills with the a7r (excuse the pun), you haven’t got the phase detection you have with the a7 and it is slower but it’s not THAT slow. Also it doesn’t have that contrast detection tendency to hunt – it just goes straight to the point of focus.

If I were being picky, I would say the shutter mechanism is just a weeny bit too loud – did it really need to be like that? Wedding photographers will find it a pain – certainly people will be aware of you taking shots where and when you shouldn’t!

Low light tests were really brief due to time available so I’m not going to comment except to say that some indoor shots we did with the a7r came out better than I expected when compared to the RX1 and I am sure that the production version will improve on that further as they refine the noise levels.

Onto the a7. Stills wise, first thing you notice is the speed of focus – it’s really quite quick. SLR quick? Well I wouldn’t like to say but it’s pretty good and I'd say as fast as a low end full frame DSLR like a D600.   I don’t think a 1DX is really going to start sweating yet but it’s way better than I thought it was going to be (rather used to my laborious focusing speeds on my RX1!), especially considering the size of the sensor. Stills image quality is actually very comparable to the RX1, which is not really much of a surprise as it uses the same sensor (although updated and using different algorithms).

So onto video. Well it's a bizarre one.  On the footage I had, the fabric shot was fine but the chairs didn't hold up as well as the a7r.  But surely it's better?  [EDIT I managed to get my hands on another couple of cameras and a7r seems better - surely this must be a pre-production firmware issue??]  I hope that they have fixed it and we’ll find out soon enough. Looking at the footage, it does seem a tiny bit soft but again I didn’t have time to play around with the profiles other than to leave them flat. [EDIT - okay I know why it was soft - that lens was not focusing on AF sharply].  Both of them show slight aliasing which is a shame and amazingly it's the a7 that's the worst - once again the 5D MkIII beats them.

So what have I learnt about the a7/a7r today? Even my brief play with them has made me smile. All of the operational issues have been resolved – Sony has really listened and come up with the goods. Stills image quality is definitely up there with the best but then as someone that uses an RX1 on a regular basis, I never expected anything else. I can’t wait to get my Summicron’s on the a7r.  When Fuji replace their X-Pro 1, it's going to need to be very special indeed.

Lens wise, there are two primes and two zooms worth considering at launch but Sony will build on this and we know that Zeiss will be bringing out their own offerings in addition to those produced by Sony with their name (full frame Touit anyone?).  As we've said, you're not just limited to E Mount unless you want AF  (interestingly we quickly tested an EF lens fitted with a Metabones Mk III adaptor - AF does work but it's quite a lot slower).

The big question is over the quality of the movie footage and on first look, it’s certainly an improvement. Is it good enough?  I do really hope it is. I’ll leave someone far better qualified than me to make that call once they’ve used them extensively (I’m sure you can guess who that might be). Today wasn’t a technical challenge – it was getting a feeling for the cameras.  The honest truth is that even if the movie footage isn't groundbreaking, as stills cameras both the a7 and a7r are very impressive indeed and we shouldn't forget that these are primarily stills cameras.  It would just be nice to have the icing on the cake!!

I have to say I think both models are reasonably priced. It’s great for us as we can pass that onto our hire customers and we’ll be shortly getting them up on our website. We should have them in stock for the end of November but considering the number of enquiries we have already had, it may be 2014 before most get their hands on one to play with!

One quick note – if you are thinking of buying one, please do consider buying a battery grip. Even on my brief play, I got through battery power pretty rapidly!!

I haven’t mentioned the RX10 here. I’ll do a separate post on that as if anything, that was the real surprise of the day and needs explaining further.

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It was an entirely positive experience. Very nice people to deal with and I will certainly use again.
- Andy Crossey, Buckinghamshire

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