Noam Kroll: Battle Of The 4K Mirrorless Cinema Cameras – Blackmagic Pocket Camera 4K, Canon EOS R, Fuji XT3

http://noamkroll.com/battle-of-the-4k-mirrorless-cinema-cameras-blackmagic-pocket-camera-4k-canon-eos-r-fuji-xt3/

“Several new mirrorless cameras were released or announced in recent weeks, including Blackmagic’s new Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Canon’s EOS R, and Fuji’s XT3. All three cameras are clearly of interest to many filmmakers right now, so I wanted to share my two cents on them below.

… I have however, done some tests with Blackmagic’s new RAW codec, and will be sharing the results here on the blog this week.

But with regards to the new releases from BMD, Canon, and Fuji, what I’m going to outline below are simply my first impressions. I’ll aim to do follow up articles on each camera in more depth in the future, so if that’s something you would like to see, please let me know!…”

Commentary

Noam Kroll is one of the most-trusted sources for good, hard, reliable facts, insights and opinions on independent feature film moviemaking.

I am very much looking forward to reading his coming hands-on articles about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Canon EOS R and Fujifilm X-T3 mirrorless hybrid stills/video cameras for use in movie production.

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  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
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The Beat: How ProRes RAW Is Going to Change the Way You Work

https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/prores-raw-change-your-work/

“If things pan out the way they seem set to, ProRes RAW could change the way independent film and video professionals work for a long time.

In this article, we’ll briefly cover the basics of RAW, how Apple is attempting to streamline this with their new ProRes, and what that means for you as a filmmaker….

… The lightweight nature of the codecs also opens up possibilities for future minimization and streamlining of cinema cameras — similar to what previous ProRes codecs have done. Adopting a more open licensing policy with ProRes RAW could herald another new wave of cinema cameras, shattering price floors….”

atomos_shogun_inferno_01_1024px_80pc
Atomos Shogun Inferno monitor/recorder, image courtesy of Atomos. The Shogun Inferno is one of the first devices to support ProRes RAW.

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Think Tank Photo Releases SKB Series Hard Cases with Think Tank Photo Soft Interiors for Photographers and Videographers

At long last, a company has recognized an issue that has increasingly been coming to the fore for travelling photographers and cinematographers, and has come up with a thoughtful, well-designed and well-made solution to it. Or rather, two companies in close collaboration, Think Tank Photo and SKB, and that issue is the increasing demand by airlines that we agree to stashing our precious, costly gear in the cargo hold instead of carrying it on as cabin luggage.

Think Tank Photo, a company whose soft camera bags and accessories I have used for some years, has collaborated with a maker of hard cases, SKB, a company new to me until now. Think Tank lists the products of this collaboration on its website under the SKB Hard Cases moniker and SBK has them on its website as the SKB Flyer Series.

There are similarities and differences between the two companies’ listings of the products of their collaboration, with SKB adding some video-oriented Flyer cases and a very useful long logistics hard case for carrying lighting and other production gear while Think Tank Photo appears to be  concentrating more on the stills side of things.

Think Tank Photo was a pioneer in supporting hybrid stills/video photographers/cinematographers with its brilliant but discontinued Wired Up Multimedia soft case range that I use to this very day. Think Tank Photo seems to have passed the hybrid thing by now, focussing on pure cinematography with a fourteen soft case-strong collection of video transport cases illustrated carrying RED, Canon Cinema EOS and DJI drone cameras.

A subset of Think Tank Photo SKB Hard Case photographs

Think Tank Photo has recently begun illustrating its products with Fujifilm X-Series mirrorless cameras in a hat-tip to the ever-growing popularity of APS-C and, one assumes, Micro Four Thirds hybrid stills/video cameras for professional photography and moviemaking, especially in the self-funded independent documentary and feature sector, a refreshing relief from their former concentration on 35mm format DSLRs from Canon and Nikon.

I do not use the inane and inaccurate “full frame”, “full format” and “crop sensors” terminology in reference to digital sensor sizes. Fujifilm’s GFX 50S medium format camera makes such olde worlde 35mm absolutism appear ridiculous, especially given that its body is about the same size or just a little bigger than the average DSLR but with a much larger sensor, establishing a new standard for image quality to be judged against if one is so inclined.

Although M43 cameras are not shown in the product shots, it is safe to assume that a case that can carry Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 Super 35 APS-C cameras, lenses and accessories can also hold Panasonic or Olympus Super 16 M43 cameras, lenses and accessories.

That is good news for those like me who would prefer to transport our Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, DMC-GH4 or DMC-GX8 fully rigged and ready for fast camera case egress going straight into shooting documentary footage minus fussing about attaching microphones, recorders, monitors, cables, cages, rigging and the like.

The same assumptions should apply to transporting the GFX 50S for stills photography given its DSLR size but bigger and better sensor.

The Think Tank Photo cum SKB Flyer hard case cum soft internals series could not have come at a better time as I am currently having to radically rethink how to carry my stills and video production gear during shoots, going to and from shoots and, when this interminable subdivision process is finally completed so we can refinance our projects including Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success, travelling intercity, interstate and overseas.

I am on the verge of a major camera case cleanup, reducing my reliance on shoulder bags and even some backpacks unduly straining permanently damaged spine, shoulders, arms and back.

Another clean-up factor is leather now that Sydney’s weather veers towards sub-tropical with ever-advancing climate change and the danger of leather-loving, lens-destroying mould taking up permanent residence in most Australian homes. Add to that the cruelty and environmental impact aspects of leather production.

I want to see all camera bag and accessory makers abandon the use of leather and follow the examples of companies like Cosyspeed that use kinder, safer materials like synthetic leather as used in the automobile industry.

Meanwhile I am looking at the specifications of all ten of the SKB Hard Cases at Think Tank Photo’s website while remembering scenes I witnessed in the days when I carted aluminium hard cases and soft logistics cases around the deserts of Western Australia and the odd foray to the eastern states for corporate assignments.

Watching luggage handlers hurl bags on and off their trailers, topple them onto the ground or sling them into luggage chutes made me cringe every time. It is great if you can get away with carrying your gear into the cabin but best to be prepared for that odd stroppy ticket or gate attendant who disputes that your “airline carry-on approved size” really is the approved size or rejects it for breaching said size by a millimetre or two.

Think Tank Photo SKB iSeries 3i-2011-7BP Backpack & Rolling Case

The 3i-2011-7BP is the one hard case in the SKB Hard Cases collection that combines a removable backpack with a rolling case, for use in a way not unlike the one that Deanne Fitzmaurice demonstrates in her How to Pack Gear for a Regional Jet video.

I have been considering something similar for safely transporting a future mostly-video documentary production kit based around the GH5 and its predecessors the GH4 and GX8. I just need to determine whether the set-up illustrated above will carry everything I need for short and feature documentary projects. Time to make a list!

I will need a second camera bag for cabin-only documentary stills gear, to complement the cabin or cargo hold mostly-video case, as well as a safer way of carrying tripod, lights and lighting stands for my coming new travelling kit to be complete.

It would be terrific if a vendor turns up at the SMPTE 2017 at Darling Harbour mid-July with a massive collection of Think Tank Photo camera bags so I can work out some optimal carrying combinations.

The steady reduction of photography retailers in this part of the world and the ending of photography trade shows here makes seeing, trying and selecting the right gear even more difficult than before. Guessing which camera bags you need based on product shots with cameras, lens and accessory systems you don’t use can be a challenge!

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Image Credits:

  • Header image made from product photograph kindly supplied by Think Tank Photo and SKB Cases, processed with Macphun Luminar Neptune using a preset from the Tintype Looks collection, in remembrance of Khadija Saye,  the emerging British artist tragically killed in the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Griffin Hammond Shows How to Set Up Your New Panasonic GH5 for Filmmaking

When I bought my GH4, I came to rely on the how-to advice of two well-qualified GH4-using documentary moviemakers, Sol March of Suggestion of Motion and Griffin Hammond, maker of cult short documentary Sriracha. Mr Hammond is now sharing his GH5 settings via a downloadable GH5 settings file and a video at YouTube.com, below. 

Griffin Hammond – How to set up your new Panasonic GH5 for Filmmaking

Panasonic’s Lumix cameras, whether the GH4, the GX8, the GH5 and no doubt the company’s many other cameras that I have not experienced, offer a myriad of menu item options the value of which are not immediately obvious.

Although Panasonic’s menu system adds short explanations of each item’s functionality, they can be cryptic so menu run-throughs like this one by Mr Hammond can be invaluable, and even more so his settings file that can be altered to suit your own preferences.

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Camera, Kits, Battery Grip and V-Log L

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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 8-18mm Lens KitB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-35mm Lens Kit – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip – B&H
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SDXC V90 cards

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  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Camera Body  – B&H

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Blackmagic Design Announces Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro Digital Cinema Camera Plus More, Available Right Now

Innovative Australian movie and television production hardware and software company Blackmagic Design has announced an exciting new high-end digital movie camera, new colour grading hardware and the addition of two Linux distribution versions of its industry-essential high end colour grading and video editing software in its free and paid variations, DaVinci Resolve and Davinci Resolve Studio. 

blackmagic_ursa_mini_pro_4-6k_hero_1920px

Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty announced the immediate availability of the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K digital cinema camera in three lens mount versions, two new colour grading hardware control surfaces in the DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel and the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel, and the availability of DaVinci Resolve and DaVinci Resolve Studio in Red Hat and CentOS link distributions.

The URSA Mini Pro 4.6K replaces and advances beyond previous URSA cameras, the URSA and URSA Mini in their 4K and 4.6K versions. It comes in versions for three industry-standard lens mounts, B4, EF and PL, and upgrade schemes are available for owners of its predecessor cameras.

Blackmagic’s URSA Mini Pro 4.6K delivers on the promise of its URSA ancestors and is now, on the basis of specifications, an attractive and affordable camera for independent moviemakers wishing to move beyond current hybrid stills/video cameras and video camcorders into the realm of feature film quality CinemaDNG raw and ProRes image recording, trading their one-person operator status for a small crew.

The addition of the much-requested built-in ND filters boosts the allure of the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K for run-and-gun documentary videographers, while moviemakers working on less frenetic projects may wish to continue using high-end third-party neutral density filters sets attached by screwing on or via matte boxes.

Meanwhile, many independent moviemakers are wondering what has happened to the long hoped-for update to 2013’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, the only affordable Super 16 raw movie-shooting small Micro Four Thirds-lensed pocket camera on the market, able to be used with none to minimal rigging and without external monitor/recorder.

URSA Mini Pro 4.6K

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A Basic Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K Kit

Just a little bit bigger than the legendary Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, a basic Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K kit that may need the addition of some added extras like the Shoulder Mount Kit, spare battery pack, ergonomic hand grip, follow-focus device, more fast SD or CFast cards, matte box and more.

DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel

blackmagic_davinci_resolve_micro_panel_front_1920px

DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel

blackmagic_davinci_resolve_mini_panel_front_1920px

DaVinci Resolve and DaVinci Resolve Studio 12.5 for Red Hat and CentOS Linux

blackmagic_davinci_resolve_12-5_color_page_1920px

Image Credits:

Header image by Carmel D. Morris with apologies to CrepusculumA.

Zacuto Takes First Look at Groundbreaking Fujinon MK 15-55mm T2.9 Cinema Zoom Lens E-Mount Version

Filmmaking accessories maker Zacuto seems to have a direct line into camera and lens makers and is often first kid on the block to have a hands-on look at innovative new pieces of movie production gear. Not unreasonable given that Zacuto needs to know the parameters of new cinema equipment so it can fine-tune its own product range. 

In its first video about the first MK zoom to be released, Fujifilm‘s E-Mount Fujinon MK 15-55mm T2.9, Zacuto’s Steve and Jens discuss the lens with Fujifilm US Director of Sales, Optical Devices Division, and state that it really is a true cinema lens – fast, beautiful, geared and with minimal focus breathing.

Better yet is that the Fujinon MK 15-55mm T2.9 is priced under US$4,000, remarkably affordable for a lens of its type and quality.

Zacuto – FIRST LOOK Fujinon MK 18-55 Lens: 4K under $4k

Zacuto – How to Set Backfocus – featuring the Fujinon MK 18-55 lens

Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.

Now Surfacing: The Long-Awaited Fujinon MK 18-55mm and 50-135mm T2.9 Cinema Lenses – E-Mount Now, X-Mount Later

Fujifilm has announced the Fujinon MK 18‐55mm T2.9 and Fujinon MK 50-135mm T2.9 cinema lenses, a matched pair of relatively affordable top-quality zooms “specifically designed for consumer and prosumer videographers and emerging cinematographers”. 

The Fujinon MK 18‐55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens, to be released as an E-Mount lens for Sony cameras with a Fujifilm X-Mount version coming later this year for the X-Pro2, X-T2 and future X-Series cameras.

The MK 18-55mm T2.9 standard zoom lens is scheduled for an early March 2017 release while the Fujinon MK 50-135mm T2.9 is currently under development and is touted for a southern hemisphere winter 2017 release. Both lenses will initially be available in E-Mount for Sony’s popular A7-series cameras and X-Mount versions for Fujifilm’s own X-T2 and X-Pro2  will appear later in 2017.

Standout features of both lenses are that they are lightweight, are made of composite polycarbonate for lightness and strength, have the same external dimensions, are clickless, focus, iris and zoom gearing, are parfocal, have low distortion and high quality edge-to-edge sharpness, have no focus breathing, have matched constant maximum apertures and matching colour rendering and are fully manual.

Not to forget that they will be affordable relative to Fujinon’s other cinema lenses in the HK, ZK and XK series as well as competing brands of cinema zoom lenses.

Sony E-Mount Super 35 camcorders and Super 35/APS-C hybrid cameras are a clear and obvious launch market for Fujifilm’s new Fujinon MK-Series lightweight cinema lenses, with X-Mount versions for Fujifilm’s X Series flagship and related cameras coming later.

Fujifilm’s press release states that:

Cinema lenses are the optimal choice to achieve a shallow depth-of-field and a beautiful bokeh. However, since they are typically large, heavy and expensive, those involved in online and other lower cost movie production often opt for interchangeable lenses for digital cameras, which are more affordable and mobile.

The problem is that interchangeable lenses for digital cameras are designed primarily for shooting still images, and therefore prone to focus shift and optical axis shift while zooming, and so on. In response, Fujifilm has been working on developing new cinema lenses that offer advanced optical performance with compact size and operability to meet the needs of creative emerging cinematographers.

There have been rumours floating around for some time that Fujifilm would be introducing a new line of clickless video lenses suitable for its X-Mount X Series interchangeable lens Super 35/APS-C hybrid stills/video cameras. The first two lenses in Fujifilm’s Fujinon MK Series of ciné zooms are specified beyond expectations and I am looking forward to seeing them in action despite their initial release only in E-Mount for Sony cameras.

As Paul Leeming‘s letter and my own request of Fujifilm attest, Fujifilm’s latest X-Series are very promising Super 35 video production cameras whether currently 1080p in the case of the X-Pro2 or 4K with the X-T2. I hope that the imminent arrival of the MK lenses helps Billy Luong apply more pressure on Fujifilm management to add 4K capability via line-skipping as in the X-T20 to the X-Pro2.

If Fujifilm heeds mine and Mr Leeming’s requests for firmware and hardware improvements, then they will have a very capable Super 35 video camera able to take any of their current and future X-Mount stills lenses as well as the new MK X-Mount zooms.

The sudden tragic demise of Samsung’s promising, much-loved NX1 and its companion the NX500 has left a hole in the affordable 4K Super 35 market that Fujifilm still has a chance of filling, and better yet of exceeding expectations.

Many cinematographers familiar with Fujifilm’s Fujinon stills and cinema lenses have expressed a desire for a fully-featured Fujifilm Super 35 camera able to make the most of them. The ball is in Fujifilm’s court and one hopes they pick it up and run with it.

There is now even more pressure on Fujifilm to up the ante on the video capabilities of their current and future flagship X-Series cameras given the imminent arrival of Panasonic’s groundbreaking Lumix GH5 4K Super 16/Micro Four Thirds camera with its wide range of new and radically improved moviemaking features.

Why would I want a Super 35 4K as well as a Super 16 4K camera? Foremost, choice in sensor size, lens range and image quality. I am more likely to pick up the GH5 – or rather, watch it leap into my hands as the GH4 does currently – for single-operator documentary projects and rely on a revamped X-T2 or its successor for advertising, corporate and feature film projects. Others’ opinions will differ.

On the MK Series’ potential user base, Matthew Duclos of Duclos Lenses says it best:

So who did Fujinon make this lens for? I believe this lens is a great option for documentary style shooters…projects that run on the most skeleton [of] crews that need to be agile with their gear. It’ll be right at home on a music video set or a web series looking for a classic zoom range.

I have just one big question for Fujifilm right now, other than when will they act on the Leeming, Gottschalk and Luong X-Series flagship video features requests, and that is, is a super wide-angle MK-Series X-Mount ciné zoom on the drawing board?

Sony owners more expert than I in lens design have stated that the downside of the narrow E-Mount is that it mitigates against a larger collection of lenses at the wide end, though I note that Sony offers a 10-18mm f/4 OSS super wide-angle zoom lens.

Adding a super wide-angle ciné zoom to the MK series would complete its  classic three-zoom moviemaking set.

FUJIFILMglobal –FUJINON MK Lens Official Introduction movie / FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – FUJINON MK Lens – Image movie / FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – FUJINON MK Lens – Image movie making / FUJIFILM

Fujifilm Europe – FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Footage Shot by Philip Bloom

Fujifilm Europe – BTS FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Shot by Philip Bloom

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Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.