Monday, September 17, 2012

Pre-ordered my Panasonic GH3 DSLM!

It's here!  As Andrew Reid at eoshd says, "This camera is basically a dream..."  I have to agree.  The convergence of pro stills and video in the same camera makes the GH3 the realization of the hybrid camera dream.

As a GH2 still shooter who was dissatisfied with the build quality, autofocus speed and the lack of dynamic range in my stills, the new magnesium alloy body, lightning fast autofocus and HDR mode are what I have been waiting for.

As a GH2 video shooter reluctant to hack my camera, I have been waiting for a high bit rate camera with a stable codec capable of shooting 1080/60p with one hour plus video clip length (outside of the EU), manual audio level control, a headphone jack, XLR inputs (or at least an external accessory with XLR inputs), and clean recordable HDMI output.

So, for $1300, Panasonic has given us much of what has been on photographers' and filmmakers' wish lists for the last couple of years - and more besides (official specs here).

After being tempted by one or two of the plethora of cameras that Sony has announced over the last few weeks, I have put my pre-order in for the GH3.  Sony came closest to getting my business with the $3600 EA-50 or the $2800 A99, but $3600 is a lot of money for a prosumer camera - and the A99's 30 minute continuous shot limit makes it a "video clip" camera, and not a video camera.

It is a great day to be a photographer/filmmaker!

If you enjoy these posts, please support this blog by pre-ordering your GH3 through these links from Amazon for $1299.00 or Adorama for $1299.99.  They won't charge your card until it ships.

Thanks so much.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's almost here! New GH3 video from Panasonic US!

This morning, Panasonic posted a promo video for the GH3 (hat tip to 4/3 rumors) - which may or may not be pulled before the official announcement scheduled for Monday.   I admit that I'm biased - but this camera looks like it has been worth the wait.  Hard to tell from Vimeo, but the still images are impressive - it certainly looks like Panasonic has overcome the GH2's dynamic range challenge.  And with a ruggedized body and weathersealing; a battery grip; 1080/50 or 60p and 72mbps ALL-I encoding - this camera, if it adds the rumored headphone jack and retains the GH2's unique competitive advantages of near moire-free video and unlimited video clip length, becomes the hybrid camera to beat in the DSLR/DSLT/DSLM form factor.  If the price (and image quality) are right, Panasonic will sell a lot of these.

And is that Philip Bloom we see shooting with a GH3 at about 2:46 into the video? If so, it certainly is nice that he has an articulated, swiveling LCD to look at and doesn't have to crouch down behind the camera - not at all like the shot where he had to lie down on the beach in his review of the 5D Mark III with its old-fashioned fixed LCD :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Blackmagic Design Rocks the Cinema World - Again!

I guess you can tell from the name of this blog that I'm a bit of a revolutionary - that's why I like "insurgent" companies like Blackmagic Design - whose mission in life seems to be to upset the old order.  Well, they did it with the original $2995 Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera (BMCC) for EF mount a few months ago, and now they've done it again with a new Micro 4/3 (MFT) mount version, announced at IBC 2012 in Amsterdam.  The new version will be available in December for the same $2995 price! (see image below, with Voitglander 17mm f/0.95)

This is great news - one of the major criticisms of the original camera has been the EF mount - which seemed to be a poor match for the size of the BMCC's sensor, limiting lens choices at the wide end.  This problem is dealt with much more easily with the new MFT mount.  With the MFT mount, the camera is opened up to a range of manual lens options not available with the EF-only mount, such as the $549 SLR Magic HyperPrime Cine 12mm T/1.6 - while still retaining the ability to use manual PL or Nikon lenses with inexpensive adapters - or EF lenses in auto mode with a $600 Redrock LiveLens Active Lens Mount.

So, for $4 or $5K (plus SSDs), you can have a camera with 2.5K resolution that shoots 12 bit RAW with 13 stops of dynamic range and will mount just about any lens ever made?

Although this blog is nominally about the hybrid still/cinema camera convergence, and this is "just" a cinema camera - I am still excited.  Because what this blog is really about is the revolutionary democratization of image-making made possible in this century by the breakneck pace of change in technology.  When I was in film school, Super 8 sound cameras were revolutionary.  The idea that amateurs could actually get lip-synced sound in their movies without a clapboard and a Nagra was pretty heady stuff. My Super 8 sound camera actually had full manual audio level control (I wish my GH1 and GH2 had that!).

But sadly, the image quality from those cameras was terrible, even by 1970s standards.  The images were grainy (even at low ISOs - or low ASAs in those days), the registration was awful, so the picture jumped around, and the resolution was so low it couldn't stand up to projection on the big screen.  Okay, 16mm was better for projection, but not much better.  And it was an order of magnitude more expensive (not just the cameras and lenses - but the film stock and processing cost a fortune).

Fast forward to today - and with a few thousand dollars, a film school or amateur or indy pro crew can produce image quality with nearly the dynamic range of film that will stand up to the 2K projection in most theaters. No more excuses.  Thanks Blackmagic Design!

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