Tuesday, October 27, 2015

$900 price drop on 2011's king of low light - Sony FS100 now just $1599!




Sony's NEX-FS100 was revolutionary when it was released back in 2011.  Remember these videos?







At $5999, the FS100 was the first Super 35mm digital camcorder below $10,000, and its low light performance blew Panasonic's AF100, with its micro 4/3 sensor, out of the water.

But time marches on.  Today, there are at least half a dozen Super 35 camcorders with higher resolution, less compression, more bit depth and higher frame rates between the prices of the $2995 URSA Mini 4K and the $5599 Sony FS5.

So, Sony has dropped the FS100's body-only price - and it is now a much more reasonable $1599 at Amazon and Adorama.

But there were only 13 left as of this post - if you want one, you should pull the trigger now.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

[11/25 UPDATE] More URSA Mini 4.6K on Vimeo!



Is the wait finally coming to an end for the URSA Mini 4.6K and 4K cameras? Six months after their introduction at NAB, there seems to be movement on both the 4.6K and 4K fronts. Please keep checking back for the latest news and footage!

[11/25 Update]

Vimeo version of Roman's Mini 4.6K video from yesterday. A lot better than the YouTube version:



[NEW 11/24 Update]

Finally!  Cinematographer and Blackmagic beta tester Roman Alaivi has posted an URSA Mini 4.6K 1080p ProRes test on YouTube. This isn't the typical "first footage" of flowers on the back yard. Roman challenges the camera with different skin tones, action, moving vehicles and low light. In my view, the camera does a pretty good job, but it will be nice to see footage that is not compressed for YouTube:



Roman also posted a pretty nice writeup over at bmcuser. He says:
"...The image is amazing. The video here doesn't even begin to show or do the camera justice, like I'm sure other footage will soon do. The color, weight, richness... just general mojo is f**king awesome. I'm really overly satisfied with the what's coming out of the Mini 4.6K."
If you're interested in this camera, it would be worth your time to head over to Roman's post and read it in its entirety.

[11/24 Update]

Looks like we're about to get a look at footage from the URSA Mini 4.6K! Tom Majerski has tweeted a couple of frame captures from the camera as he grades his shots:


Tom says of this picture, "You really feel the 15 stops of Dynamic Range on the URSA Mini 4.6K. Zero clipping in this frame."


Here he says, "Just a couple of nodes give me rich deep colour on the URSA Mini 4.6K...grading is so easy with it."

Really looking forward to seeing what this camera can do.

[11/23 Update]

More URSA Mini 4K tests as we await footage from the 4.6K camera.

Interesting comparison of URSA 4K and Mini 4K images from Chanho Shin in South Korea .  Not a side-by-side, but useful, nevertheless:


And some very nice 1080/120p slow motion snowfall from Ronald Huijskens, cinematographer at a production house called Lionatwork in the Netherlands:


Even with YouTube compression, the Mini 4K continues to impress.

[11/21 Update]

As more shooters get their cameras, the trickle of URSA Mini 4K test footage is turning into a flood.  Three new clips were uploaded overnight.  In one of them, we'll see how the Mini fares on a conventional counterbalanced stabilizer.

 Daniel Peters continues to produce great work with his new URSA Mini.  In #mydubai, he takes some time off from a Blackmagic Design resellers' event to shoot some beautiful city and desert footage:



Also, Blackbird Productions in New Zealand took their new Mini 4K out on a $549 Glidecam HD-4000 and got some very smooth results.  Looks like you won't need thousands of dollars and a fancy 3 axis brushless gimbal to fly the Mini:




And long time Blackmagic shooter Tyler Edwards took the Mini 4K, a tripod, and a couple of lenses out and came back with a nice little test video shot in RAW, ProRes and 1080/120p windowed mode:


The 4K continues to impress.  Even with YouTube (and Vimeo) compression, the camera does a good job and looks like a winner.

These tests are giving us a pretty good idea of what the 4K version of this camera can do - but (and I hate to sound like a broken record here), it has been 7 months since these cameras were introduced and potential buyers really need to see sample footage and reviews from the 4.6K before they decide which camera to invest in.

[11/20 Update]

Note Suwanchote takes the URSA Mini 4K EF down to the beach and flies it on a Letus Helix 3 gimbal.  The results left me wanting more.  It is almost unbelievable what a single operator can do with a $3000 Super 35 camcorder and a gimbal these days:




In his second review (and comparison with the original 2.5K BMCC), Note says, "the body of the Ursa Mini 4K is simply better in every way when compared to the BMCC except in weight."

He still likes the BMCC's dynamic range and gradability better, but also says, "I won't lie, the Mini 4K sensor has grown on me..."

Please head over to LightFormFilm for the rest of the story.

[11/18 Update]

Great new URSA Mini 4K EF review with test footage from Note Suwanchote at LightFormFilm.  Note is using the Mini 4K to balance his gimbal and plans to sell it soon and buy the Mini 4.6K  - but he took the time to go out, shoot some test footage and write down his thoughts on the camera for the community. 

Here's the test footage:


In the pictures accompanying Note's writeup, the $1499 SmallHD EVF-502 SDI Sidefinder looks like a good fit for the Mini - so if you already have the SDI version of the Sidefinder, you won't have to buy a new EVF.

Sadly, those with the HDMI version of the Sidefinder (or other HDMI EVFs) will have to buy something like a $295 Atomos battery powered SDI to HDMI converter in order to use their viewfinders with the Mini.


Note says he was "pleasantly surprised at how well the sensor performs." Please head on over to LightForm for the full review.

[11/17 Update]

Emm at Cheesycam got a loaner URSA Mini 4K from the DVE Store (I'm jealous!) and, in his own inimitable style, rigged it up with gear he had on the shelf.  I'll share Emm's pic - but for the rest of the story, you'll have to go over to Cheesycam.


For me, the most interesting part of this setup is the validation of the Mini's compatibility with the $949 Cineroid EV4RVW and its iPhone-like Retina display.

At $546 less than the $1495 Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder, this looks like a reasonably priced, high quality EVF alternative.

Looking forward to footage from Emm - and please subscribe to and support his blog  - he does great work for this community.

[11/16 Update]

Cinematographer/editor Norbert Bielan just posted a nice beach slow motion piece, shot with his new URSA Mini 4K and a Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens.

He recorded in ProRes HQ in UHD at 24 and 60 fps.  The slow motion shots were in 1080p crop mode at 120 fps:


Norbert has been shooting with the big URSA for a while, and was one of the first shooters to post 80 fps slow motion URSA footage almost a year ago:


He says URSA Mini still has some Fixed Pattern Noise (FPN) challenges, but is still, for the money, "the best camera in the world."

[11/14 Update]

Music video director Jake Stark just received his new URSA Mini 4K  - and has posted a quick review of the camera. Jake does a great job of answering some basic questions about the Mini in less than 4 minutes - and shows some 120 fps slow motion test footage.  Does the camera have a black hole sun problem like earlier Blackmagic products?  How do you set it up for slow motion?  Does it fit on a Ronin?  Watch the video to find out:


Once again, this camera really shines in good light and at 1080/120p.  Kudos and thanks to Jake - this quick look at the Mini is a real service to the community.

[11/13 Update]

Aussie filmmaker Mateusz Sliwinski took his new URSA Mini 4K EF out for a spin at the local coffee house with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 - here are the results:


Mat did a nice blog post on his impressions of the camera here.  Bottom line: nicely gradable footage - the LCD is good for indoor work, but the camera needs an EVF outdoors - and FPN is still an issue.

We knew this camera would inherit the FPN problem from the Production Camera 4K, so this isn't really a surprise - but it does beg the question - is Blackmagic working on a firmware solution?  Or is it something BMPC 4K, URSA 4K and URSA Mini 4K owners will just have to live with?

I hope not.  Sony's quick confirmation of and commitment to fix the A7s II PAL "black hole" problem might be a good example for Blackmagic to follow.

[11/8 Update]

It's been a few days, but we've finally seen another 4K test.  This time from Ryan Levenson on Vimeo - shooting ProRes at 2160/30p and 1080/120p at the University of Oregon:



Hopefully, we'll see 4.6K tests from John Brawley and Tom Majerski soon.

[11/3 Update]

Nicely graded UHD footage of Nanstein Castle in Landstuhl, near USAFE HQ at Ramstein Air Base in Germany - from Jsfilmz on YouTube:



[10/31 Update]

A quick review of the Mini 4K (and size comparison with the full size URSA) from Daniel Peters in the UK:


[10/30 Update]

John Brawley posted these BTS stills from his 4.6K shoot on October 30th:









4.6K News



Australian DP and long time Blackmagic tester John Brawley tweeted this picture of the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K on October 23rd.

If the pattern of previous Blackmagic releases holds, John gets one of the first production units and will post one or two videos a few weeks before the camera actually ships.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the camera can do in the hands of an experienced cinematographer and to comparing URSA Mini 4.6K footage with tests he's shot over the past few years with the Alexa - like this one, shot in ProRes:


And this one, internally recorded to ProRes 4444 and externally recorded to Arri RAW:


Hopefully, he'll write about the test and tell us now the camera measures up to his experience with Arri and RED.



On October 27, UK DP Tom Majerski tweeted this picture of his test URSA Mini 4K. He says he is "having fun" and "very impressed."  He also says "people will be very happy".

I'm sure they will be - when they finally get their cameras.

4K News

On the 4K front, we're starting to see test footage, first impressions and unboxings from shooters who have received their URSA Mini 4Ks.

Test Footage
On October 21st, with his second post of URSA Mini 4K footage, amateur shooter "J" at Jsfilmz has scored another first. As far as I can tell, he is the first end-user to post Ultra HD/60p slow motion footage from this camera.

Here's a graded short shot at 3840x2160p resolution and recorded to 10-bit ProRes with the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens:


J says he was rushed and didn't have a lot of time, but it's a nice grade and a useful demonstration of what UHD/60p looks like (taking YouTube compression into account).

First Impressions
Blogger Rich Lackey at Digital Cinema Demystified has received his camera and written a "First Impressions" post.  Click over to Rich's blog to read the whole post, but his bottom lines:
  • "I want to say how impressed I am with Blackmagic's industrial design team on this one. They have created a beautiful looking camera."
  • "I believe if Blackmagic Design follow the path they've started with URSA Mini in future products, they have a very strong future in front of them with far fewer design and ergonomic criticisms"
  • "...the URSA viewfinder is a work of art. It’s full HD, designed and built just as well as the camera and beats any third party EVF’s I’ve used. There’s no plastic in sight and it just feels like quality construction. I would consider the URSA viewfinder to be a must-have accessory for URSA Mini and I think it will take care of the situations where the 5″ monitor is not bright enough."
  • [On the 4K sensor] "...in most situations with enough light, using fast lenses it performs well...in low natural light situations the 4K sensor's performance falls off...This is why the new 4.6K sensor is such a potential game changer."
Unboxing Video
I'm not a big fan of unboxing videos, but as an indicator that URSA Mini 4Ks are starting to ship, here's an unboxing posted by Mediacast Systems in Dubai on October 21st - so cameras are starting to arrive at dealers (in the Middle East, at least).



URSA Mini 4K Shoots First FCPeXchange Event
The first FCPeXchange Workshop was held at Abel Cine in LA on October 24th - and a freshly delivered URSA Mini 4K was used to record the event.  Here it is with a 50mm Canon Cine Prime:


The Mini looks like it will be a nice little handheld camera - even without the EVF. I will post footage as soon as it becomes available.

And please check back over the next few weeks  - I will keep this post updated as we start to see more URSA Mini 4K footage, hands on reviews and news.

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.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Remember when 3-axis gimbals were $2000? Now, they're less than $500!



As recently as last year's NAB, the least expensive 3-axis gimbal you could buy for A7/GH4/BMPCC class cameras was a bulky, two-handed device that took a computer science degree to calibrate and cost a couple of thousand dollars.

What a difference 18 months makes.  Today, shooters with cameras in the "large mirrorless" weight category can buy the Team Rebel Design Beholder MS-1 a smooth, 3-axis pistol-grip style gimbal for $499.90.

This thing really works.  Here it is, turning the notoriously shaky Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera into an action camera (courtesy of OwlDolly):



Walking on the beach with the BMPCC - one of the toughest scenarios for stabilizers:



With the GH4 (courtesy of NOA Film):



And with the A7II (courtesy of Mathieu Stern):



At the $499.90 price point, the TRD Beholder MS-1 starts to compete with traditional counterbalanced stabilizers such as the $479 Glidecam HD-2000 or the $399 (marked down from $599) Steadicam Merlin 2.

Of course, counterbalanced stabilizers in this price class can handle payloads up to 5 or 6 lbs. - while the MS-1 is limited to less than 2 - but for mirrorless shooters, the tradeoff can be worth it.

These compact, 3-axis brushless gimbals can take the place of a lot of expensive, bulky gear.  When combined with 4K LOG or 1080p RAW image capture, low cost gimbals such as the MS-1 can produce high quality, gradeable images that compare very favorably to images produced with thousands of dollars worth of rigs, dollies and sliders.

And at the MS-1's price point, the interchangeable lens version of the Osmo starts to look a little silly and overpriced - contrary to what I said a few days ago.

With a $747.99 4K Panasonic G7 (kit lens included) and the $499.90 MS-1, you can be up and running with a 3-axis stabilized ultra high definition, interchageable lens camera for less than $1250.

That's about $450 less than the $1699 cost of a DJI X5 camera alone (no lens, no gimbal).

You wouldn't be able to remove the G7 from the MS-1 and put it right on your multicopter, but the $450 extra in your pocket might make up for that minor inconvenience.

Overall, it looks like the folks at Team Rebel Design have a winner on their hands here.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Junun" - new Paul Thomas Anderson film shot on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera goes to the movies

In the spring of this year, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be BloodBoogie Nights) travelled to Rasjathan, India with his friend Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead and producer Nigel Godrich to record an album called Junun (available for pre-order from Amazon and iTunes).

Anderson intended to record the journey and release it as a documentary - but, as he says in this interview at the New York Film Festival, his "newfangled, sexy camera gear" was held up at customs, so he had to resort to Plan B - which turned out to be the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras he had in his bag (plus Paul Godrich's drone).


Paul Thomas Anderson shooting handheld with the BMPCC (via MUBI on Twitter)
The film, which shares the album's title, was shot verité style in the recording studio and on the streets of Rasjathan and captures the amazing process by which the music was created.

You can stream Junun now at mubi.com - and pre-order the album at Amazon and iTunes.





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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

First feature shot with $4495 Blackmagic URSA PL - stars Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Vivica Fox and Danny Trejo

URSA goes to the movies
A few days ago, Blackmagic issued a press release announcing that filmmaker Timothy Woodward, Jr. and DP Pablo Diez had chosen the $4495 URSA PL camera to shoot straight-to-DVD/VOD actioner 4GOT10 (trailer below).




The film was shot in ProRes 4444 with Schneider Cine-Xenar glass and graded in DaVinci Resolve.  Diez says the camera's global shutter was important for capturing the flashes, explosions and sudden camera movements that were a key part of the film.
I'm not a big fan of this genre, but it's good to see URSA and other under $10,000 cameras being used as A cams on indie sets.  Money not spent on renting $40,000 cameras can go into salaries for "name" actors and real practical effects (instead of CGI).


Big Dolph Lundgren on the big URSA monitor (from Flickr)

Other filmmakers are using URSA cameras as well. In a recent interview with A Place to Hang Your Cape, for example, filmmaker Alex Shipman and DP Izzie Jones say they're shooting a crowdfunded female superhero short called The Stuff of Legend on the Blackmagic URSA Mini.

The great thing about the era we live in is you can click on the graphic below on the right and stream the movie in the comfort of your home or office - or even on mobile - and, if you like the way it looks, you can click on the graphic on the left and buy the camera it was shot on.  I love this century.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Brand new Canon EOS M10 mirrorless - worthy competitor for the Sony A5100?


The short answer is no.  The EOS M10 is a $599 (with 15-45mm kit lens) APS-C mirrorless camera that takes 18MP still photos, records 1080/30p video and needs an adapter for EF/EF-S lenses.







The APS-C A5100 (with 16-50mm power zoom), on the other hand, costs $50 less, shoots 24MP stills, records video at up to 1080/60p, is about the same size (but has a handgrip) - and doesn't need an adapter to share lenses with full size Sony E mount bodies.

These cameras both seem to be aimed at the same market, casual shooters who want APS-C DSLR still/video performance in a compact body. Both cameras are equipped with wi-fi, have built-in flash and flip-forward LCDs for self-shooters - and both lack hot shoes and microphone jacks.

But the Sony seems to be the better camera - on features and price.

It is difficult to understand what Canon is doing here. While the head of Canon Marketing Japan says they want to be the number one mirrorless manufacturer by 2017, the mirrorless cameras they've introduced in the past year (e.g., EOS M3, EOS M10) have been under-spec'd and over-priced when compared to the competition.

Unfortunately for Canon, they are near the bottom in mirrorless sales in the home market (and worldwide) and have a long way to go if they want to beat Sony and Olympus to get to number one (courtesy BCN via PetaPixel):



Conversely, as DSLR sales fall and mirrorless sales rise (albeit from a lower base) - Sony interchangeable lens camera sales have seen significant growth in the past couple of years, as seen in this chart from the NPD Group:


The new EOS M3 and M10 cameras will certainly be attractive to Canon shooters who want a smaller camera body to complement their APS-C and full frame DSLRs - but appealing to existing users doesn't grow market share.  I don't recommend them at this price and don't think Canon will sell enough of them to be competitive (until, like the original EOS M, they are on closeout and selling for bargain basement prices).

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

New footage from DJI Osmo with 4K large sensor X5 - costs less than GH4 + gimbal!



A few days ago, when DJI announced they were putting the X3, with its fixed lens and 2/3" sensor, on an integrated "selfie gimbal" (the new DJI Osmo), I have to admit I wasn't impressed.

Fixed lens, small sensor cameras don't fit my style of shooting - even if they record at 4K and are waterproof (e.g., GoPro Hero 4 Black) or are mounted on multicopters (e.g., DJI Phantom 3).

I have admired a lot of the work done with these cameras, especially what Philip Bloom has done with GoPro cameras and DJI copters (below), but it has been difficult to justify the money for a dedicated second camera with a fixed lens that was a lot less flexible and capable than the GH4 I already had.




The combination of the DJI Osmo with the 4K, interchangeable lens X5 and its micro 4/3 sensor changes that (h/t to Andrew Reid at EOSHD for his post on this).  If the 1080p YouTube promo video from DJI at the top of this page is any indication, the image quality from the X5 mounted on the Osmo will competitive with high end 4K interchangeable lens cameras mounted on the latest 3-axis gimbals

With a $349.99 gimbal-only Osmo, an integrated $1689 4K X5 and a smartphone, shooters can now produce stabilized 4K, large sensor images like those from a stabilized GH4 (below) for about $60 less than a $1497.99 GH4 combined with a $599 Beholder MS1 (prices as of this post).




No, the Osmo-mounted X5 doesn't have a headphone jack.  Nor does it have an EVF or the ability to mount heavy lenses.  But, in addition to its price advantage, The Osmo/X5 has the advantage of smaller size and close integration with DJI's multicopter ecosystem.

You can take the X5 off the Osmo and put it on your multicopter with a whole lot less trouble and expense than buying a separate aerial gimbal for a GH4 (or any other DSLR or mirrorless camera).

I haven't touched on the potential presented by the X5R interchangeable lens camera with lossless RAW compression.  At $4999 ($7999 mounted on a DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter), it seems a little overpriced to me (I'd rather have a $4995 URSA Mini 4.6K EF for that much money).

That said, if the price ever comes down, this camera could be very serious competition for the $1295 Blackmagic 4K Micro Studio Camera, which needs a relatively expensive and bulky external recorder for 4K, requires a third party gimbal solution for stable images and is limited to 3840x2160 resolution (compared the X5's 4096x2160).

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

First customer URSA Mini 4K footage!

History repeats itself - amateur filmmaker, Jszfilms - who posted the first narrative footage shot with the BMPCC two years ago - has now posted a short satirical piece shot with the $2995 Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K:





As far as I can tell, this is the first footage from a consumer who actually bought the camera and doesn't have a special relationship with either Blackmagic Design or a dealer.

This is not a big budget movie with lots of locations - it's something J put together in one day to show his friend (who owns the camera) how to use it. And, clearly, not all of the shots are from the Mini.

That said, the fact that the camera is starting to appear in the hands of consumers is very good news for everyone who has been waiting since April for this camera!

If you've been waiting to place your order until the camera was actually shipping, you can pull the trigger now by clicking on the link above or the display ad below.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.  Thanks for your support of the Revolution!

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