Sunday, April 15, 2018

BMPCC 4K & BMPCC side-by-side! Hands-on & interview w Blackmagic Design President Dan May


With only a half day on the ground at NAB 2018, I was very fortunate to be able to schedule this on-camera interview with Blackmagic Design President Dan May right before I had to leave for the airport.

I brought my five year old BMPCC along to compare to the new camera because I wanted to hold both in my hands and compare them.  Sure, I could have gone to Camerasize, but I wanted to actually see the two cameras side-by-side to determine differences in grip, weight and balance and ergonomics.



Although the new BMPCC 4K is larger - it shares much of the original camera's DNA


Surprisingly, as different as these cameras look, there were some clear similarities between them:
First is the micro 4/3 lens mount.  Although the BMPCC 4K's sensor is larger, Blackmagic put the same lens mount on the camera - which will save upgraders a lot of money. 
Second, neither camera has a viewfinder and both have fixed LCDs.  This is common to all BM cameras - and to most higher end cinema cameras - but it is striking for a camera whose competitors all have viewfinders - and many of which have tilting or fully articulated LCDs. 
Third, both cameras have a 1/4"-20 socket where most consumer cameras have a hot shoe mount.  Again, this makes sense for a pure cinema camera that doesn't need an external flash.
But all of that is superficial - what is really important is on the inside. With the BMPCC 4K, Blackmagic appears to have fixed almost every one of the original camera's shortcomings.  By now, everyone has read the specs list - increased resolution and higher frame rates; longer battery life; improved audio with phantom power; a larger, brighter LCD; yada, yada.

What the spec sheet can't tell you is that this is an extremely well built camera.  The pre-production cameras at the show were heavier than the carbon fiber production model will be, but they were still solidly put together and felt like they could stand up to the rigors of operating in the field.

This is just a sense I got from handling the camera - we will have to see how tough it really is once can get out hands on the production model. 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Suiting up for NAB 2018 interviews!



Today, I'll be at the Atomos and Blackmagic booths to talk Ninja 5 and BMPCC 4K - also planning to tag up with Sony on the FS5 II and to stop by Apple (ProRes RAW) and see the latest from Canon, Panasonic, JVC and Fuji in person.

If there are any specific questions you want me to ask, please let me know soonest in the comments section below or over on reddit at /u/HybridCamRev - I'm leaving the show floor at 3pm to catch my flight home.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Is the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K a GH5s killer?

New $1295 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K - pre-order at Adorama
With its full 4/3 sensor, dual native ISO up to 25,600, internal 12-bit losslessly compressed RAW & 10-bit ProRes recording up to full 4096x2160 DCI 4K/60p, dual card slots with CFast2.0, mini-XLR microphone input with phantom, 5" touch screen, recording to a simple external USB-C drive, free copy of DaVinci Resolve Studio and $1295 price, the new Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K) introduced at NAB 2018 today is a formidable competitor for the sub-$2000 still/video hybrid cameras from Fuji, Panasonic and Sony.

Although Panasonic gives its customers 10-bit color space, Fuji and Sony cameras are limited to amateur 8-bit color - and none of them can record RAW.

Neither can these cameras record to a simple external drive (unless you buy an expensive recorder) - and they don't have XLR jacks with phantom power.

The BMPCC 4K is not a perfect camera - it lacks an articulated LCD and in-body stabilization, but with the $1000+ you'll save over the price of the GH5s, you can afford a $199 5"1080p external monitor and a $749 Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal.

With this setup, you'll get a stabilized 4K/60p 12-bit RAW image with a max 25,600 ISO for less than the price of the 10-bit Panasonic.

Amazingly, this little camera conforms to Netflix standards for 4K production and to the Digital Cinema Initiative's Digital Cinema System Specification - so it is ideal for just about every shooter -all the way from vloggers to wedding videographers to independent filmmakers and broadcast media producers.

More to follow as soon as we have sample video!

You can pre-order the camera for September 2018 delivery from Adorama here.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Updated specs and pics for new Canon EOS M50 4K mirrorless

After breaking the original leak yesterday, Japanese rumor site Nokishita has updated specs and images for the new Canon M50 4K mirrorless:




EOS M50 SPECS:

  • 24.1 Megapixels APS-C CMOS
  • DIGIC 8
  • Dual pixel CMOS AF with greatly improved performance
    • AF area is enlarged by about 38% with corresponding lens (100% vertical × 88% wide in live view image display range)
    • The selectable AF point is a corresponding lens with a maximum of 143 points (99 points for non-compatible lenses)
  • Pupil detection AF
  • Dual Sensing IS
  • Silent mode
  • DLO in camera
  • RAW development in camera
  • Video: 4K 25p / 24p, FHD 60p, HD 120p
    • Frame cutout from 4K movie is possible
    • 5 Axis Electronic Image Stabilizer · Combination IS
  • Standard ISO: 100-25600 (extended ISO: 51200)
  • Continuous: Up to 10 frames / sec (at servo AF: up to 7.4 frames / sec)
  • EVF: 0.39 type 2.36 million dot Organic EL
  • 3 type 104 million dots Vari angle touch panel liquid crystal
  • Wi-Fi · Bluetooth · NFC installed
    • Wireless remote controller BR-E1 compatible
  • HDMI HDR output compatible
  • Supports the next-generation CR3 RAW format and the new C-RAW compression format
    • The C-RAW format is 40% smaller in file size than conventional RAW, and it corresponds to in - camera RAW development and digital lens optimizer
  • Battery: LP-E 12
  • Weight: 387 g black, 390 g white (including battery and memory card)
  • Color: Black / White

The most interesting new headlines here for filmmakers, videographers and vloggers seem to be (subject to the vagaries of Google Translate):

  • Confirmation of the fully articulated "Variable" angle LCD
  • 5-axis IBIS with dual in-body and lens based stabilization (similar to Panasonic's dual-IS)
  • 4K/24 & 25 fps, 1080/60 fps and 720/120 fps.

If these specs are accurate, and Canon can bring the price in at around $1000-$1500US, the EOS M50 could be real competition for the in-body stabilized crop sensor cameras from Panasonic and Sony.

With its 24.1 megapixel APS-C sensor, this camera should deliver better still image quality than the Panasonic G85 - plus 720/120p slow motion. It is almost certain to be better in low light.

Plus, it has the fully articulated LCD the Sony A6500 lacks.

Then there's possibly the biggest selling point of all - with the EOS M50, all you'll need is a relatively inexpensive EOS-M to EF adapter for full compatibility with Canon EF and EF-S glass.

No more costly Metabones Canon to Sony "smart" adapters or Canon to Panasonic Speed Boosters - and no more checking lists to make sure your lens and adapter are compatible.

It is probably too early to say for sure, but Canon may be back in the game as an option for serious entry-level filmmakers, videographers and vloggers - especially those with a significant investment in EOS glass.

Finally.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins. It won't cost you anything extra, and will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.






Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, February 3, 2018

$24,995 Sony PXW-Z450 or $3,495 URSA Broadcast - which is the best camera for your money?

Sony PXW-Z450: Picture 1 regular
Sony PXW-Z450 - $24,995
Blackmagic Design URSA Broadcast Camera: Picture 1 regular
Blackmagic Design URSA Broadcast - $3,495
                              









VS.




Blackmagic Design has done it again - disrupted an existing market with a low priced, high quality professional camera with a very attractive feature set.

Just as they did with cinema cameras a few years ago, Blackmagic has taken a market where cameras have traditionally cost literally tens of thousands of dollars and introduced a comparable product for less than $10K.  Only this time, the price for the URSA Broadcast is an amazingly low $3,495 (press release here).

Basically, Blackmagic has taken the proven URSA Mini Pro platform and replaced its 4.6K Super 35 sensor with a new 2/3" UHD unit and given it a B4 mount with power to make it both ENG and studio friendly, as seen in the images Blackmagic is using to promote the camera:


URSA Broadcast in the field....


...and in the studio

Since the Broadcast shares the same body as the Mini Pro, it can use the same accessories, to include the shoulder mount kit, viewfinder and studio viewfinder.

But the Broadcast is the second entrant into the 4K shoulder mounted ENG camera marketplace.

Two years ago at NAB 2016, Sony introduced the world's first shoulder mounted 4K ENG camera with a 2/3" sensor and a B4 lens mount, the PXW-Z450.  I was at that show, and the Z450 was one of the stars of the Sony press event.  Sony was rightfully proud of this achievement and promoted this camera heavily, as seen here:




But the Z450 costs almost $25,000 - which limits its use to high end network television and production houses.

Until now, if production companies and freelancers wanted a 4K shoulder mounted pro camcorder on a budget, they had to adapt B4 lenses to a larger sensor camera with a 2x doubler to avoid vignetting.  

For some of these cameras, adapting ENG lenses also meant buying an external power source for the zoom.

As you might guess, all of this was a hassle and something news shooters and documentarians tended to avoid.

Now, almost two years later, Blackmagic has turned the world upside down with a camera that closely matches the Z450's specs for an almost unbelievable $21,500 less.

Here is Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty introducing the Blackmagic Design URSA Broadcast (long):



This camera has the same 2/3" sized sensor as the Z450 and a similar native, powered B4 mount.  It has the same maximum 4K/60p resolution and both cameras have a range of edit ready 10-bit codec options.

But the Broadcast has several features the Z450 lacks, in addition to price. It has dual SD card slots for some of its lower bit rate codecs - it has an interchangeable lens mount and it records to Blackmagic's losslessly compressed CinemaDNG RAW.

SD cards are lot less expensive than the Sony's SxS cards, the interchangeable lens mount provides more creative flexibility and for content producers who have the time to grade, the ability to record 12-bit RAW will deliver images with a wider color palette.

Of course, there's more to these two cameras than just a few headline features - and you get a lot of intangibles for your money with the Sony (to include their highly regarded pro support) - but for low budget broadcasters, cablecasters, webcasters and other live streamers - the URSA Broadcast will open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Personally, I plan to rent one at the earliest opportunity.  It will be perfect for a live stream project I have coming up - and I would like to see what it can do in a narrative setting.  By keeping the aperture open with the built-in ND filter and using longer focal lengths, I should be able to deliver acceptably shallow depth of field.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.






Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

Does Atomos' free CinemaDNG RAW upgrade mean trouble for the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro?

Looks like the $5995 Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro is no longer the only way to get 4K RAW (with built-in ND filters) for less than $6000.

As of March 27th, 2017, when the free Atomos Shogun RAW upgrade becomes available for download, shooters can also record 4K RAW with a $3999 Sony FS700 and a $1795 Atomos Shogun Inferno.

Nice run-through of Atomos CinemaDNG RAW workflow with Resolve and Adobe CC in this video from Atomos and Sony:


For a total cost of $5794, the FS700/Inferno combination not only costs less than the URSA Mini Pro - it also delivers 240 fps RAW slow motion at 1080p (the Blackmagic maxes out at 120 fps).  

Plus, the FS700's base ISO is 2000 (S-Log2), compared to the URSA Mini 4.6K's ISO 800.

The FS700 also includes a battery - and the Inferno provides an SSD storage solution - which means no expensive external battery solution, CFast 2.0 cards or $599 SSD adapter required.

To be fair, adding in the $945 price of DaVinci Resolve Studio (included with the URSA) makes the total price of the two alternatives about the same - but doesn't erase the FS700's low light and slow motion advantages.

For current FS700 owners, this is almost a no-brainer - and for shooters thinking about stepping up to 4K RAW, this is a great new option.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above, or the display ads below and in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

Please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.




Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Matching colors across camera brands with Resolve




By Guest Blogger: PastramiSwissRye

No matter the size of your budget, there will come a time when you need to match different cameras. It could be a GoPro crash cam in a stunt scene, pickup shots on a DSLR after a rented RED has been returned, or just borrowing a B-cam from a friend to cover an interview. 
While you can always try to match your settings on location, no two camera manufacturers use the same color science.  As a result, your shots won't match exactly and the final intercut product may seem a little "off" to the viewer no matter what you do on set.


My initial reaction to mismatched shots across cameras was to carefully color-match each shot in post.  This cost me a lot of time and money - until a co-worker and I devised a quicker method.

The cameras we used were the Panasonic G7 and the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, which both record at 3840x2160p Ultra High Definition - but this technique should work for any camera brand and at any resolution.


Panasonic DMC-G7
Blackmagic Production Camera 4K
Over time, we found that under most conditions, we were making similar corrections to match the BMPC4K and Panasonic G7 on every shot.  Eventually, we asked ourselves, "What if we could quantify the differences between the cameras? What if we could create some sort of tool to apply precise, consistent corrections based on those differences?"


X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
Our first step was to order a color chart. We chose the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport for its durability, excellent reviews and competitive price. We set it up under the most color-accurate light source we could find:


Generic Main Sequence Star
Once that was done, we set the BMPC4K to its native ISO as it is more sensitive to noise than the Panasonic, and matched exposure by varying shutter speed since motion blur did not affect the test. We used the same lens at the same t-stop to take identical short clips of the color chart with each of our cameras, then we loaded the clips into the free and powerful Davinci Resolve color grading and editing suite from Blackmagic (if you want to export at 4K, you'll need the $299 paid version - you can download it here).
Panasonic G7 test shot
Blackmagic Production Camera 4K test shot
From here, there are a couple of options. Davinci Resolve actually has a built-in correction tool that when directed toward the color chart, automatically performs a correction for you. You can find it by clicking “color match” in the bottom left panel of the Resolve “color room”.   In some cases, this may be good enough.

But we wanted a tool with more versatility and more precise control. It took us a few more days of work to create it, but it has been well worth it.
First, we chose to leave the BlackMagic footage untouched and instead matched the (objectively poorer) Panasonic footage to it.
Next, we used the curves tool and the waveform monitor to match the exposure of each of the grayscale frames on the color chart. This was made slightly easier by rotating the clip 90 degrees and masking around the grayscale frames so they showed up clearly on the scopes. The process was then as simple as creating a point on the curve for each frame and adjusting it up and down until the waveform from the G7 matched that of the BMPC4K.


 We then used the “hue vs hue” and “hue vs sat” controls and the vectorscope to match the hue and saturation of each color frame on the X-rite card. This process was made easy by using the eyedropper tool to create a point for each frame, then moving the points up and down to adjust the hue and saturation until the vectorscope from the Panasonic matched that of the Blackmagic.

Next, we used the “hue vs lum” tool to match the exposure on the color frames in much the same way as we did the color adjustments. Finally, we shot the color charts under a few other light sources and reviewed our corrections a few times to be sure they remained reasonably accurate. This final “dialing in process” can take as long as you like, depending on how precise you’d like your LUT to be and how comfortable you are with the DaVinci Resolve toolset.
When we were satisfied, we exported the corrections as a LUT via “File>Project Settings>Color Management>Generate LUT From Current Grade”.
 Original Panasonic G7 CineD shot
Original BMPC4K shot
LUT-matched shots ready to be graded
Now, assuming our cameras are reasonably well white-balanced and exposed, we can easily match a day’s worth of shots in minutes with only minor corrections needed before moving on to grading.
The time saved and the quality of the results has easily been worth the cost of the color chart and the time invested. I highly recommend that anyone who regularly needs to match cameras as part of their job - or who wants to realize a creative vision without spending hours matching cameras in post - give this workflow a try.

What do you think? Do you plan to use this technique to match colors between cameras? We would love to hear from you. Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.
And if anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.
Please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”