Monday, October 27, 2014

"D" Cam for Avengers: Age of Ultron - the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera!

IMDB's Technical Specifications page for the upcoming sequel to Marvel's the Avengers - Avengers: Age of Ultron (teaser trailer below) shows the usual list of very expensive Hollywood cameras - the Arri Alexa XT, the RED Epic, the Canon EOS C500 - but it also lists the $900 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera shooting ProRes 4:2:2.

Here's the trailer:

The GoPro HD Hero 3 is also listed (probably as a POV cam).

It is terrific to see a camera from the world of micro-budget filmmaking used on a major Hollywood production - and it's also a testament to the quality of the images produced by the Pocket.

This camera has already been used for major TV advertising campaigns and on the set of the TNT series Dallas - but this is one of the first feature films.

Given this camera's price/performance ratio, it's likely that we'll see more BMPCCs on set in Hollywood going forward.

Hat tip to an anonymous poster over on 4chan for the heads up.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Submit a clip to Samsung's "In a City" contest by October 30th for a chance to win a free NX-1!

Samsung and actor/producer/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Third Rock from the Sun, Looper, Don Jon) have teamed up to create a great contest for aspiring writers and cinematographers who want to work with JGL to crowdsource a short film, shot with the new Samsung NX1 (detailed rules in the video below).

As part of the contest, you'll have a chance to win a new NX1 - arguably the best value for money interchangeable lens 4K camera on the market. And if you don't win, you can always buy your own NX1 by clicking on one of the display ads below :) Good luck!

Which to buy - the $5499 Canon C100 Mark II or the $5995 Blackmagic URSA EF?


When Canon introduced the Cinema EOS line back in 2011, they held a big Hollywood event, with expensively produced introductory videos and many of the luminaries of the industry in attendance.  They spent a lot of money and made a big deal of it - and rightfully so.  They were stepping into the big leagues of Super 35mm digital filmmaking with feature-rich and cinematographer-friendly cameras for pro Canon shooters who wanted to step up from DSLRs.

The price points for the new Cinema EOS cameras were high - but not unreasonable in a world where the competition was the then-aging Panasonic AF100 (with its small sensor and poor low light performance) and the newer Sony FS-100 with its strange top mounted LCD/viewfinder and boxy ergonomics.

And when the C100 was introduced a year later, it quickly became a DSLR upgrader's favorite - the only Super 35 camera you could buy below $10,000 with the compact form factor of a DSLR, but with no recording time limit, essentially no moire, built-in XLR jacks with decent pre-amps, a top handle and manual rather than menu-based controls of key camera functions.

And it was 100% compatible with the wide range of Canon EF lenses, which a lot of shooters had in their camera bags.

As a result, over the past couple of years, as the price for this camera dropped from the $6499 introductory price to the current $4499 (for the non-dual pixel autofocus version), Canon sold a lot of them.

But, over the past few years, the landscape has changed. Now we live in a world where $5995 will buy a Blackmagic URSA - an EF mount Super 35 camera with a global shutter and pro SDI out that records to UHD/60p 12-bit RAW.

In this world, it makes a lot less sense to announce a $5499 Canon C100 Mark II that records at a maximum 1080p resolution and 60fps frame rate to an 8-bit compressed codec - and doesn't fix the limitations of the C100's consumer HDMI output.

Nor, as far as I can tell, does it fix the C100's CMOS rolling shutter problem.

Admittedly, URSA is 10 pounds heavier, CFast cards are expensive - and shooting with a "big screen TV" in your face instead of a viewfinder is an acquired taste - but, for TV commercials and indie filmmaking, the URSA's feature set and image quality are competitive with the $20,000 C500 at the price point of a $5499 C100 Mark II with a Blackmagic HDMI to SDI converter.

To quote Filmmaker Magazine, the C100 Mark II "...would be an impressive upgrade — if this were coming out in December 2013."

Even leading C100 advocate and shooter Noam Kroll won't be upgrading.

So, above $10,000, value-conscious filmmakers will probably choose the "C300 killer", the $10,499 4K Sony PXW-FS7 with a 28-135mm f4 servo zoom instead of the $11,999 body-only 1080p C300.

While below $10,000, the $5995 UHD URSA seems to be a much better value for the money than the $5499 C100 Mark II.

If Canon fails to address the resolution/price gap with their competitors, Cinema EOS could very well find itself in the same straits as their DSLR line - where, led by serious shooters like Dave Dugdale and Caleb Pike, Canon shooters seem to be giving up on DSLRs and switching to mirrorless 4K (and 4K capable) Panasonic GH4s and Sony A7s in significant numbers.

As someone whose first video capable interchangeable lens camera was a Canon T2i, I still have hope that the company will step up to the challenge - but even if they don't, there are some great alternatives out there.

As always, if anything here has helped you to make a purchase decision, please shop using the links above or the displays below and in the margins. And even if you're not in the market for a new camera, please comment and make suggestions below. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

For the latest deals, news, tips and techniques, please follow HCR on Blogger, Twitter and YouTube and circle us on Google+. Thanks for your support of the revolution!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Side-by-side: Samsung NX1 4K vs Nikon D750 - which one for video?

The folks at Nikon Motion just posted this short, but well-executed side-by-side video comparison of the new Samsung NX1 and the Nikon D750:

It's an interesting test, but there are no real surprises here. As one might expect, the downscaled 4K from the NX1 out-resolves the D750 at 1080p - while the full frame Nikon delivers shallower depth of field than the "crop sensor" APS-C Samsung.

But the most exciting news is that early examples of the NX1 are starting to appear in the wild. Hopefully, this means that we will soon see comparisons between the NX1 and its real competitors, the Sony A7s and the Panasonic GH4.

It will be especially interesting to see how the NX1's new backlit APS-C sensor stacks up against the GH4's micro 4/3 sensor in low light. If Samsung has managed to combine the GH4's internal 4K recording capability with improved low light performance, the NX1 could be a formidable video camera.

Please check back over the next few days as we get closer to the official October 27th ship date for the NX1. I'll post the newest video tests and examples as they become available.

As always, if anything here has helped you to make a purchase decision, please shop using the links above or the displays below and in the margins. And even if you're not in the market for a new camera, please comment and make suggestions below. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

For the latest deals, news, tips and techniques, please follow HCR on Blogger, Twitter and YouTube and circle us on Google+. Thanks for your support of the revolution!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Top 3 most boring new cameras - Nikon D750, Canon 7D Mark II and GoPro Hero 4

I haven't written much lately, and readership has gone down as a result. It's not that there are no new cameras to talk about - it's that the new cameras are not very exciting - in fact, they are downright boring.

Some blogs, for example, are touting the full-frame goodness of the new Nikon D750, to which I say "meh."

So what if Nikon has finally figured out how to compress video without moire. They should have done it years ago.

And while others are promoting the Canon 7D Mark II as worthy successor to the 7D for video - I say...well, my answer isn't printable on a blog intended for polite audiences.  And as for Canon's latest marketing campaign, "See Impossible" - I won't dignify it with a response.

Nikon may have figured out moire-free compression, but Canon hasn't. And they'll nevertheless advertise this thing as a video capable camera and charge shooters $1800 for it.

Anyone who has read this blog for long knows that I have not been hesitant to promote new products (when there was actually something new and worthwhile about them), but I just can't bring myself to recommend these cameras for shooters who care about video - even if Canon has finally put a headphone jack on an interchangeable lens camera under $2000 - or if Nikon has finally eliminated full-frame moire.

Neither of these cameras gets rid of the major liability that comes with the reflex mirror - the lack of a video viewfinder, which is the dirty little secret of the DSLR. As I've said elsewhere, the lack of a video viewfinder is a hidden tax on filmmakers, who are often surprised to learn that they can't see their LCDs in bright sunlight and end up buying expensive and cumbersome LCDVFs and/or EVFs just so they can see what they are shooting.

Until these manufacturers give up on the mirror (and the 30 minute limit for cameras sold outside of the EU), it will be hard to take them seriously when they advertise the video features of their cameras.

As for the GoPro Hero 4 Black and 4K, there has been a 4K/30fps action camera on the market for over 6 months, it's called the Panasonic HX-A500, and no one seemed to care until GoPro released the Hero 4.

But some of it is the fault of Panasonic's marketing people. Here's Panasonic's tired and slow moving 4K A500 demo on YouTube, which has garnered a pitiful 9,200 views between March of 2014 and this post:

Contrast that with GoPro's fast moving Hero 4 4K demo video - which has had over 9.5 million views in a few weeks - over a thousand times more than Panasonic's A500 video:

To me, GoPro is a little like Canon - riding a wave of brand recognition while trailing Panasonic in innnovation.

All three of these cameras are the equivalent of "New Coke" for me - corporate marketing designed to sell repackaged version of old products rather than meeting the needs of contemporary consumers.  I don't recommend them, and won't be posting links to them, even if it costs me money.

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