Shopping

Just watched this long, detailed overview of the NEX FS100 camera from Sony, compliments of Den at F-Stop Academy. There are few surprises with this new approach from Sony. Very very interesting. Looks like the AF100 and DSLRs finally have some competition in the sub-10K price range.

a_red_paperclipThe prolific guys over at fxguide have posted a Red EPIC test shot that shows the HDRx mode in use. In this case, the shot is a car driving from the interior of a dark tunnel to a fully daylit sky. They’ve dubbed it The Impossible Shot, as without some kind of high-dynamic range mode, it simply wouldn’t be possible. It really is a fantastic way to show off the feature, as it captures the practicality of a common shooting situation…moving from interior to exterior. It’s always a challenge to do that, and EPIC HDRx appears to handle it with aplomb.

UPDATE: Red has announced another supply chain delay, due to the situation in Japan:

“…there are 18 parts (out of 18,000) of EPIC-X that come from Japan. More specifically… northern Japan factories. If you are not brain dead and have been watching the news, you will understand that this is bad news.

We are late shipping EPIC for many reason up to now… mostly due to us. We have made changes, had no idea how difficult this project was… yada, yada. Now that we know what we are doing and are ready to rock, including building a complete production line in Irvine… this happens.”

Original post follows…

In other recent RED news, Jim Jannard has shared some information on the forums about the current shipping schedule. As lately seems to be the case with Red, no specific dates are mentioned, but this info should be helpful to those who are waiting in line for Epic cameras and need to plan finances or rentals. Here’s Jim at the start of the thread:

“EPIC-Ms will continue to be made given that the parts and pieces are available. EPIC-M are not full featured… but have most of what you want. EPIC-X Stage 2 will ship a few before NAB, production will continue after a slight delay due to Japan supply chain issues end of April. All features will not be available for early EPIC-X and upgrades will come as they are enabled. All orders for Stage 2 and 3 will be shipped before summer’s end 2011 (this year). Order taken for EPIC-X at NAB will be shipped by summer’s end. EPIC-S will beging production as soon as EPIC-X orders are filled.”

As a reminder, EPIC-M is the hand-machined, limited-feature camera that is being built directly by RED. These are coming out in limited quantities to the typical list of friends and early adopters. EPIC-X is the proper manufactured camera system, though from what Jim says it looks like future firmware updates will be required to enable all the features. EPIC-S is the new terminology for what the interchangeable-lens Scarlet S35 used to be. They’ve taken the one Scarlet model that I personally was interested in, added some features from the EPIC line, raised the price, and now are designating it as the base-model EPIC. When Jim references Stage 2 and 3, he’s referring to their customer waiting list and rollout order.

This staggered, firmware-feature-limited rollout is akin to how RED One was released…get it in shooters hands with limited features and some known (and unknown) bugs, and fix things later via a number of firmware updates. From my personal experience with RED One, it was around firmware version #15 to #17 before the camera was what I would call full-featured and (mostly) solid. Hopefully Epic will prove to be rock-solid out of the gate, and feature updates will be released more quickly. Later in the thread, when pressed, Jim noted what they mean by “summer” and narrowed down the Stage 2 ship date a little:

“Technically summer ends in September… so that means all Stage 2 and 3 should be shipped well before then. All orders placed at NAB will certainly be shipped before then.” “I would look at Stage 2 to be shipped by May/June.”

He also went on to say that EPIC-S specs would be “locked down by NAB.” For those that are counting, this is the third NAB show that Red will be showing an unfinished Scarlet camera, and specs have officially changed several times since then. If we’re going by Red’s track record, I’d fully expect EPIC-S specs and ship deadlines to change again before the end of summer timeframe, but we shall see. I’m a bit jaded at this point at the perpetual spec and ship-date changes, so it would not shock me if we didn’t see EPIC-S ship till closer to Christmas 2011. I sincerely hope that Red proves me wrong.

Jim also notes that we can expect Scarlet Fixed-lens updates at NAB, so that’s either a spec or shipping timeframe update, or both. I can see why they would hold off on EPIC-S delivery until after the majority of EPIC’s ship, as EPIC-S has the potential to cannibalize higher-level EPIC camera sales (in my opinion, based on the featureset vs price). Scarlet fixed-lens, not so much. I don’t see why they would want to artifically hold back the fixed-lens Scarlet, so ship dates for that camera are probably going to be determined by just how finished the camera really is, and the state of the Japan parts manufacturing situation.

Honestly, I’m not that excited about the Scarlet fixed lens system, not nearly as excited as I was a couple years ago when DSLRs and large-sensor cameras weren’t available and Red was the only game in town talking larger sensors. But now with S35-sized (APS-C) sensors on every corner, and more options on the horizon, Scarlet’s 2/3 sensor and fixed lens seem rather limiting…for me, I’d look at other manufacturer camcorders before I’d consider the Scarlet fixed lens. This is not only because of the features, but is also a function of the continual price bumps that Scarlet has gotten over the years…it’s no longer “3K for $3K” and that has placed Scarlet in the same price range as several new options that are hitting the market.

The EPIC-S, on the other hand, while a little more pricey, offers the features I’d probably want, and at a fair price point. It’s priced higher than it was originally for roughly the same system, but the price seems to match the features and some of the EPIC features have carried down (like HDRx). In my opinion, Red was smart to bump the price on the interchangeable-lens Scarlet and move it up into the “professional” EPIC line. Now those who buy EPIC-S will have the EPIC badge on their camera, and not have to feel like a scrub shooter, justifying the “prosumer” Scarlet moniker in pro production circles (remember, the low-end Scarlet was originally the chicken in every pot, the camera every soccer mom was going to carry). And in my opinion, the new name + new features also allowed Red to justify bumping the price so as not to cannibalize higher-level EPIC sales as much as the Scarlet S35 would have.

Here’s a little sneak peek at a new rod support system for the AG-AF100 from Letus. This is a baseplate and telescoping 15mm rod kit for the camera, and you’ll also notice that familiar blue color on the lens mount…Letus is nearly set to release a PL adapter mount for Micro 4/3 cameras.

Reportedly the stainless steel PL mount has an integrated back focus ring and is anodized flat black on the interior for anti-glare purposes. A little bird says they’ll be shipping in 3-4 weeks, around NAB timeframe. We’ll be sure to get a look at the new system while we are at the NAB show.

B&H currently has the Panasonic AG-AF100 back in stock…for the moment. It’s going for $4795 USD. Snag it if you want it…it’s been hard to come by lately.

Purchases via that affiliate link directly support FreshDV at no additional cost to you.

It’s clean at 6400 ISO, rates at 800 ISO native, and AbelCine’s Andy Shipsides has the details. Looks awesome!

I was at the WPPI tradeshow this past week, and dropped by to chat with the Cinevate crew. Dennis Wood kindly took some time out of his afternoon to let me play with their new Simplis handheld rig, and I really liked it. As the name hints, Simplis is a line of simple handheld rigs for DSLRs and other small cameras.

simplis_medium_sizeSimplis is available in a number of configurations, but the one that I personally preferred was a very simple config (seeing a trend here?) with two short articulated handles, a baseplate, and a lightweight gunstock on a short rod extension. Simple.

After some monkeying around, I came up with three variations on this rig configuration that are useful to me. This rig could be config’d to be held comfortably in front of my body with the gunstock in my chest in sort of a gunner mode; it could also work as a makeshift shoulder rig with the gunstock on my shoulder and elbows bent and pressed into my sides…not really my ideal shoulder config, I prefer a proper shoulderpad and such, but usable in a pinch and handy as hell; and finally, it could also be shot in low-mode with the handles in a U-shape around the DSLR camera. The latter config was actually surprisingly stable when doing pseudo-Steadicam shots at ankle height.

But the most attractive feature to me? This Simplis rig folded up into a tiny package. I could see this sliding right into my luggage without taking up a ton of space. Here’s a picture I snapped of it wadded up in the palm of my hand. That’s just a standard Manfrotto tripod plate on the bottom of the rig. Very handy indeed. Simple and effective.

atomos_ninjaWe mentioned the Atomos Ninja a while back, it’s $1000-ish HDMI ProRes recorder with a small built-in LCD that can also be used for playback and/or monitoring. It’s shipping apparently, though you don’t have clean output from Canon DSLRs (the Nikon D7000 has no such issue). Perhaps a future firmware update from Canon will remedy that (don’t hold your breath), or a future camera system. The Ninja would pair nicely with the Panasonic AF100 or Sony PMW-F3, however…

Good to see this one hitting the shelves, now looking forward to user reviews! If you want more info on Ninja, peep that Atomos link above for a video overview on their website.

Gotta love clever marketing…the creative folks over at Cinevate have put together a fab little short film that shows off a simple new DSLR Proteus handheld rig configuration dubbed Simplis. It practically builds itself! Watch below.

ag-af100-buttons-switchesI’ve been eyeballing the Panasonic AG-AF100 keenly since it began shipping to users recently. To my mind, the AF-100 / AF101 is the first solid “DSLR replacement” camera system that rolls in most of the positives of DSLR video, but also deals with the myriad issues and annoyances of the platform.

Benjamin Eckstein is an experienced DSLR shooter that recently took shipment of his AF-100, and he’s written a fantastic post with his initial thoughts and experiences with the new camera. If you are considering this camera system, I highly recommend you read his blog post.

B&H currently lists the AG-AF100 at $4,795, purchases via that link help support FreshDV at no additional cost to you.

lock_it_buddy_dslr_boxI can’t decide if this is patently absurd or uber cool…perhaps a little bit of both.

Lockit Buddy is a $130 box that hooks up to your DSLR video camera and embeds a standard timecode signal within one of the camera audio channels, so you can sync multiple camera shoots with ease. Here’s a quick explanation:

Lockit Buddy sends your reference audio track to channel 1 (L) and the time code to channel 2 (R).

This is conform to channel arrangements needed to ingest material with LTC recorded as audio with Avid* editing systems. For editing in Final Cut Pro* we recommend processing the video files using FCPauxTC by VideoToolshed* to extract your time code and turn it into an Auxiliary TC track.

Such are the annoying hoops professionals will jump through to enable the use of DSLRs in pro applications…but this certainly looks like a very cool tool for the right application.

cinemon-mp4-logoNoticed this on the Sony website today, Cinemon is a $100 plugin for FCP that enables direct playback and editing of XDCAM .mp4 files within FCP.

From how I understand it, this Cinemon plugin would avoid the hassle of the XDCAM Log & Transfer Quicktime transcode & re-wrapping process, and you could then edit XDCAM footage directly from the cards if necessary (thinking News or almost-live applications). Probably not a workflow that most users will embrace, but I can certainly see applications for it. Check out the feature list below, and a video demo here. There’s also a 60-day free trial via the link above.

Enables:
Native Playback of XDCAM EX profiles in Apple Final Cut Pro
Ability to playback XDCAM EX files directly from SxS cards
Ability to playback XDCAM EX files in QuickTime (still requires FCP to be installed on machine)
Drag and Drop or File Import of XDCAM EX files directly to Final Cut Pro
Support for Quicklook viewing of XDCAM EX files in finder
Render output for MOV using Final Cut Pro render engine
MXF rendering using XDCAM Transfer tool

Supported Formats:
Version V1.2 of the cinémon®.mp4 plugin for Final Cut Pro allows native editing of the following formats in Final Cut Pro sequences*:
- XDCAM EX (MP4) 35 Mbps 60i/50i/23.98p/25p/29.97p
- XDCAM EX (MP4) 25 Mbps 60i/50i/23.98p
- Files exported via XDCAM Transfer Tool (MP4)

Here’s a short blog review of the Manfrotto 521PFI, which allows you to control the lens motor and iris on certain lenses attached to the AF100 or AF101. In this case, the reviewer is using an Olympus zoom lens. It’s my understanding that you cannot use this Manfrotto accessory with Canon lenses…Birger is coming out with an adapter for that. Interesting stuff.

(via @VisionWrangler)

You can purchase the Manfrotto 521PFI at B&H for $270, purchases made via that link help support FreshDV at no additional cost to you.

okii_usb_ff_w_dslrVia Paul Schneider on Twitter, I ran across this USB follow focus system that plugs into a Canon DSLR mini-USB plug and drives the Canon lens motor. The company, okii, has just officially released this unit and it’s priced at $400.

Reportedly the follow focus unit can drive the lens USM motor in LiveView and while recording video, save and recall focus points, toggle record start/stop as well as autofocus engage (only works when not recording), and digital zoom (only works when not recording). All in all, a pretty extensive feature set. There are caveats to be aware of…apparently Canon’s USB implementation is limiting. I’d recommend you read the User Guide (PDF link) for some of the limitations of this unit.

Caveat emptor, of course…I haven’t seen any reviews yet on this system and have yet to use one personally. But if this delivers what is promised…well damn. That’s a pretty sweet FF system for a DSLR shooter. In my opinion, the price is just about right for what it does…any more and I’d just say “get a real Follow Focus system that works with all cameras/lenses.” But at $400, for the pure DSLR shooter who doesn’t often shoot on other cameras or non-Canon lenses…very tantalizing. I’d love to hear from any FreshDV readers who may have used this system on a DSLR.

New Rode VideoMic Pro

I’ve got a $150 Rode VideoMic, have used it for years on various camcorders and DSLRs. I often use it on a DSLR even if I intend to replace the audio with a synced source later, just to deliver superior scratch audio and in case I need to use snippets in a pinch. So I was excited to see that Philip Bloom posted about a new Rode VideoMic model, the VideoMic Pro. Looks pretty sweet, and Phil appears to be a fan. He’s also giving away a handful of them. Check it out.

zeiss_cp2_primeA few weeks ago at IBC, Carl Zeiss introduced several new lenses that are notable and interesting to filmmakers and videographers. Of particular interest to me are the new additions to the Compact Primes line, the CP.2 50 mm/T2.1 Makro and CP.2 100 mm/T2.1 CF (Close Focus). Close focus distance on the new 50mm is 9.4 inches, and the 100mm close-focuses at 27.6 inches. MSRP on the new CP.2 glass is $4900 and no doubt they will be hitting rental houses soon after their release Q4 2010.

The new Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 is a good complement to the existing Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 and T* 85mm f/1.4. It would be a good medium-angle HD video lens on the Canon 7D, and comes in mounts for EF and F. MSRP is $1,843, and it will ship in early 2011.

Finally, Zeiss has also announced that in addition to the existing PL and EF mounts for the CP.2 line, they will also soon offer an F-mount and are developing Micro 4/3 and A-mount options for the CP.2′s. That would give you a single color-matched lens line from 18mm through 100mm with professional design and gearing that could be used across Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Panasonic DSLRs and camera systems like the AF-100. Very cool indeed.

The one caveat to be aware of is that the 18mm CP.2 vignettes on the 5D’s full-frame sensor, but works perfectly on the 7D’s APS-C sized sensor. Just something to be aware of when purchasing or renting glass.

FreshDV is proud to have Zeiss as a NAB 2010 coverage sponsor, you can see our video coverage of the NAB 2010 CP.2 announcement here. That video interview with Rich Schleuning is also a fantastic in-depth conversation on optics and lens design in general.