Sound Devices Introduces Its New MixPre Ultra-Compact USB-Streaming Audio Recorder Series with MixPre-3 & MixPre-6

Three brands of audio field recorders are most commonly used by independent documentary moviemakers – Sound Devices, Tascam and Zoom. Sound Devices recorders, the Nagras of the digital age, have been more the province of professional audio recordists than one-person-crew moviemakers, until now, until the advent of its MixPre series with the first two models being the MixPre-3 and MixPre-6

A detailed list of specifications of both MixPre models is available in the MixPre Series Sell Sheet at the MixPre-6 product page as well as a Sound Devices catalog, MixPre-3 and MixPre-6 Quick Start Guides and User Guides.

Standout features of both MixPre models include Sound Devices’ legendary audio quality via new microphone preamps, the ability to use both MixPre recorders as USB audio interfaces, durability of manufacture, intuitive interface, flexible power options, advanced mixing functionality, easy mounting on tripods and cameras, and a range of accessories and software.

Sound Devices MixPre-3

Sound Devices MixPre-6

Links:

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

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • 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
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H

SDXC V90 cards

  • Angelbird 64GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Panasonic 128GB UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H

L-Plates

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

Camera Cages

  • Movcam Cage for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H

Seercam’s Brilliant New Cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 Available Soon, Extension Kit to Follow

My favourite cage for my Panasonic Lumix GH4 camera was made by Motion9, now trading internationally under the Seercam brand name. The only GH4 cage I had ever seen in real life was Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 and if the company’s other GH4 cage, the CubeMix GH4/3 Pro had been available at the time, then I would most definitely have bought that model instead, for its NATO sliding handle and one-touch cable clamp.

Now, Seercam has revealed its cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and it looks like it will be the cage I buy for my GH5, when one finally finds its way into the country and into my hands.

Seercam’s newly-revealed Cube GH5 cage and NATO handle. Extension kit to accommodate the GH5’s DMW XLR1 audio adapter is coming soon.

I took a well-researched gamble on Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 and it paid off handsomely. I will be keeping my GH4 as second camera to my GH5 when it eventually arrives and it will be wearing its cage even more then than it does now.

My GH4 will continue to be equipped with its Cube Cage Round Handle, in my experience the most secure design of the two Motion9 top handles, though it does not have the convenience of fast-on, fast-on via NATO rail or the ability to balance the camera’s weight via sliding to and fro.

I would love an updated round handle in the style of the one on Canon’s Cinema EOS cameras, but Seercam’s NATO rail-mounted CubeCage Classic Plus Handle looks tempting as does its quick-release Rod Riser 1565.

I would consider replacing Seercam’s NATO rail with SmallRig’s Quick Release Safety Rail 7cm 1195 though, for its spring-loaded pins to prevent accidental removal. It is the little things that count.

Pity both items are out of stock. Quick-release mechanisms, so long as they mount tightly and securely, are key to working fast and efficiently as an independent, self-funded documentary moviemaker who cannot afford crews and wasting time screwing and unscrewing camera rigging when needing to move fast.

8Sinn’s GH5 cage and handles, especially its Scorpio top handle that can double as a side handle, was the first custom cage for the GH5 to appear online and it has several attractions including its elegance, small size and camera-right hand grip-hugging design.

I have another camera cage now, SmallRig’s 1844 cage for the Panasonic GX8, and through it have come to appreciate the small size and light weight of minimalist camera cages, but for regular through heavy-duty moviemaking when I need to attach a range of accessories to the rig, Motion9/Seercam’s beautifully conceived, brilliantly designed and expertly manufactured cages are my go-to standard.

You can see why in the photographs below. For your product comparison convenience, links to other current GH5 cages are listed at the base of this article.

Seercam’s Cube GH5 body and handle

Coming soon: extension kit for placing handle over DMW XLR1 audio adapter

Of all the GH5 cages listed below, those by 8Sinn and Seercam remain at the top of my wishlist.

If I were shooting features as part of a small crew alongside a camera assistant and audio recordist then I would choose 8Sinn’s cage along with Veydra or Duclos’ Voigtlaender ciné-modded native M43 prime lenses and follow focus device.

While Veydra cinema primes deliver a more standardized look that gets out of the way of the story, Voigtlaender’s faster optics produce quirkier looks that can enhance certain types of stories.

If shooting documentaries as a doing-it-all-myself one-person crew then hands-down I would chose Seercam’s GH5 cage along with Olympus M.Zuiko Pro zoom and prime lenses though I may add one or two Panasonic lenses for the benefits of extra stabilization and DFD – Depth from Defocus.

I really like M.Zuiko Pro lenses’ repeatable hard-stop manual clutch focus mechanism, build quality, durability and colour consistency across the range, and can sacrifice some stabilization for the sake of all that. They are terrific for video as well as stills photography.

There was some consternation about the Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8’s inability to accept screw-on filters when it first appeared, as there was about Panasonic’s Lumix 7.14mm f/4.0 lens, but some third-party filter adapter solutions for square or rectangular filters have appeared:

Links:

Fujifilm Announces Two Massive X-Pro2 and X-T2 Firmware Updates Due Late March and Late May

Fujifilm has a well-deserved reputation for its Kaizen – continuous improvement – firmware updates, a practice I first encountered with my first Fujifilm digital camera, the classic rangefinder-style Finepix X100S. The X100’s updates turned a revolutionary camera into one that remains fun to use and usable for documentary photography assignments to this day. And now, Fujifilm is set to outdo itself with a massive list of firmware improvements to its two flagship cameras, the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 and the DSLR-style X-T2. Happy days.

The coming X-Pro2 and X-T2 firmware updates will further differentiate the two flagship Fujifilm APS-C cameras, with more video features for the latter and operational speed and efficiency gains for the former. I still want to see better video support in the X-Pro2 even if it remains at 1080p instead of 4K.
The X-T2 has the potential to fill the Super 35 4K gap left by Samsung killing off the revolutionary Samsung NX1 and NX500 cameras, but Fujifilm’s imminent firmware update does not include DCI 4K and zebras for fast, accurate judgement of correct exposure. Will these crucial features be coming in a third update later this year?

The full firmware list contains a record-breaking 33 new and improved items of which 27 will appear in late March and the final 6 in late May. Some are for both the X-Pro2 and X-T2, some are for the X-T2 only and some are for the X-Pro in a catchup with the X-T2’s current feature set.

For the X-T2 only, 😦

The X-T2-only updates indicate that Fujifilm has chosen to increase its differentiation between both cameras’ video capabilities. The X-T2 is about to gain:

  • #14. Activation of the Eye Sensor in video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #15. Change of ISO sensitivity during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #17. Display live histogram during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #18. Optimization of external microphone’s input level (X-T2 only).

Other X-T2-only updates indicate other differentiations by Fujifilm between its flagship cameras, in tethering and for portraiture and other genres often requiring vertical orientation of the camera:

  • #22. Automatic vertical GUI for LCD (X-T2 only).
  • #28. Support for computer tethering via Wi-Fi (X-T2 only).

Tethering, the ability to connect cameras to computers by wire or Wi-Fi, has been an accepted, often client-demanded, tool in commercial photography for some time now and has been well supported by medium format and DSLR camera makers, and some raw processing software. USB tethering recently came to the X-T2 via standalone software and plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom.

Many of the new and improved firmware items for both cameras are welcome indeed, speeding up their accuracy and operability. Some may have limited usefulness while one glaring omission from the firmware of both camera remains AWOL – zebras.

AWOL, an immigrant from video world

Zebras for ensuring accurate exposure are welcome immigrants from the world of video camcorders and high-end stills/video hybrid cameras like Panasonic’s Super 16/Micro Four Thirds GH4, GX8 and the new GH5.

Zebras have rapidly proven themselves just as useful for stills as for video, helping combat the all-too-prevalent problem of overexposure that pushes high values over the shoulder into unrecoverable burn-out territory.

High value or highlight burn-out is as problematic in stills as it is in video, whether one is shooting raw or JPEG files. Although extreme high values can be recovered to some degree in raw files with recovery function sliders – going under names like “whites” or ‘highlight” in raw processing software – doing so in video or for JPEGs results in muddy high values that can become an eye trap for viewers.

Eye traps are areas in the frame that draw viewers’ attention at the expense of the most meaningful objects in the image, weakening its message and damaging effective storytelling. Hard-edged burnt-out bright patches are particular eye-trap culprits even when their values are lowered in post-processing.

Avoiding burn-out and needless processing

Far better to avoid the burn-out eye-trap problem and fruitless correction work in post-production altogether by getting exposure right in the first place, and that is where zebras excel compared with histograms.

International Womens' Day March, Sydney, 2017

Above: Photographing in high dynamic range environments like this can be challenging when trying to achieve correct exposure without burning out the high values. Here I used exposure zebras on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 to ensure the best exposure of sky and footpath then raised the middle and low values in a raw processor. 

Histograms have their uses in assessing your scene or subject’s dynamic range and determining whether to add a light or accept low value details that can be raised in grading or raw processing.

Both the X-Pro2 and X-T2 have histograms that could be improved by enlargement and better delineating their right and left edges. Judging then setting accurate exposure via histogram can be a slow process unsuited to the speed and stresses of documentary photography or video.

As cinematographer/director Paul Leeming demonstrates in his tutorial on ETTR – expose to the right – zebras are a fast and accurate exposure method that can benefit photographers and videographers using Fujifilm cameras, should Fujifilm see fit to add it to firmware. Zebras are not included in late March and late May’s firmware.

Useful updates for both cameras

There are plenty of impressive improvements for both cameras, many of which photographers have been requesting for some time now, most notably the following:

  • #3. Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minutes.
  • #6. “AUTO” setting added for the minimum shutter speed in the ISO Auto setting.
  • #7. Faster “Face Detection AF”.
  • #8. Improved in-focus indication in the AF-C mode.
  • #9. Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF.
  • #13. Change of focus frame position while enlarging it.
  • #19. Addition of “Eye Sensor + LCD Image Display” in the View Mode.
  • #23. Name Custom Settings.
  • #24. Copyright information in EXIF data.
  • #25. Voice Memo function.
  • #26. Extended AE Bracketing.
  • #27. Addition of “Shoot Without Card” mode.
  • #31. Addition of “-6” and “-7” to EVF’s brightness setting.
  • #33. Function assignment to the Rear Command Dial.

Having tried shooting HDR with the X-Pro2 and X-T2’s three-bracket-only functionality, I have badly missed the larger bracket range available on many other cameras including my Panasonic Lumix GH4 and GX8.

Some of my favourites for X-Pro2 and X-T2

Number 26, Extended AE Bracketing is particularly welcome. Extreme dynamic range scenes demand five, seven or even nine AE brackets to give a wide enough range for HDR processing in products like Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017, causing me to rely on other cameras than Fujifilm’s for interior and some exterior HDR work.

I bought my X-Pro2 for the benefits of Fujifilm’s legendary colour rendering and its APS-C sensor as opposed to my other cameras’ Micro Four Thirds sensors, and new feature 26 gives me added incentive to add an X-T2 as a companion to my X-Pro2.

Numbers 24 and 25, Copyright information in EXIF data and Voice Memo function, are invaluable when shooting documentary projects, portraits and similar assignments. Every photograph, not just those shot commercially, needs to have copyright data embedded in its EXIF data from the moment of exposure.

Voice memo functionality is crucial when covering an event or shooting a series of portraits, especially without an assistant. Ever tried making a photograph then whipping out a notebook to jot down your subject’s name and other details? Voice memo features in other brands of cameras name audio files similarly to the photographs they relate to, making them easy to find and transcribe back at home base.

Number 23, Name Custom Settings, is a great improvement over the nuisance of having to remember what subject matter or customized look relates to a cryptically-named custom setting.

Numbers 2 and 3, Extended ISO 125 and 160 selectable and Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minute, are functions that may come in handy for some low light and night scene cityscape projects coming my way soon.

Although I generally stick to ISO 200 or 400 for daylight documentary work, habit and years of successful analog practice means I prefer the lowest ISOs I can get for tripod-mounted small aperture photography. Conversely, Fujifilm’s excellent wide aperture lenses like the XF 56mm f/1.2 R and XF 23mm f1/4 R and their incredible bokeh tempts me to shoot wide open with low ISOs.

Cable releases and remote releases are increasingly becoming things of the past for long-exposure photography as well as all-to—easily forgotten or lose on location so I suspect programmable long exposures will be lifesavers.

Number 9, Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF, brings the X-T2 and X-Pro2’s focus point size choice to six with pinpoint focussing, crucial when shooting with long lenses on the X-Pro2 and even longer lenses on the X-T2 when picking out the most essential object in a field of them.

I am going to love this one for shooting portraits with the X-Pro2 and the XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens with aperture wide open for razor-sharp highlights in one eye.

Just for the X-Pro2

Several of the 33 items are for the X-Pro2 only, adding features already in the X-T2’s current firmware:

  • #10. Addition of “AF Point Display” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #11. Addition of “AF-C Custom Setting” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #20. Shorter EVF display time-lag (X-Pro2 only – already in X-T2).

Number 11, AF-C Custom Setting, adds action-photography autofocus settings that have well-proven themselves on the X-T2 and that I would have loved on the X-Pro2 for covering intense, fast-moving events like demonstrations. Pine no more.

Likewise, number 10, AF Point Display, will bring more surety when covering those same kind of situations as well as fast-moving portrait subjects flitting in and out of inner city crowds.

Number 20, Shorter EVF display time-lag, will be useful in the same circumstances when shooting with the X-Pro2’s EVF. I default to the OVF or ERF-in-OVF most of the time but switch to the EVF when shooting with a monochrome film simulation or my subjects are moving through mixed bright sun and deep shadow.

Times like that you need a sharp eye on your prime subject in order to hit the shutter at exactly the right moment and the less EVF lag the better.

Plenty of gains, some losses

Thirty-three feature additions and updates for two closely-related cameras sharing sensors, processors and more is quite some feat and Fujifilm deserves heaps of praise and kudos for that.

I suspect that most photographers will be very happy indeed with this list, and some have already described it as “awesome!”. Until the firmware appears, and it is clear exactly how each new item or improvement works in practice, we can only guess as to their implementation and usability but, fingers crossed!

The X-T2 wins some great new video features that I have long wanted on the X-Pro2 and that it will not be getting any time soon if at all, it seems. I will be buying an X-T2 soon enough, as a companion to my X-Pro2 instead of the second X-Pro2 I was originally planning on, but right now my next video-centric choice will be Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 due to its full, mature feature set and sheer usability.

I may not be counted amongst “most photographers” given an equal dedication to still and video that seems to be rare in some parts of the world, but then the X-T2 and X-Pro2 are cameras that appeal to photographers whose work and needs are anything but the norm, well beyond what most photographers demand of their cameras and lenses.

Most photographers, from what I see in the streets of this fair city, are more than happy with the many limitations of DSLR cameras but Fujifilm flagship camera users are a very rare and demanding breed.

And that is, to a large degree, Fujifilm’s own fault. At a time when the independent photo and video landscape was dominated by model after model of DSLRs that barely looked any different from each other, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 was a radical breath of fresh air.

It promised so much, then delivered on it with a succession of great firmware updates that set the expectation of brilliant firmware kaizen for every Fujifilm camera coming after it.

The X-Pro2 3.00 and 3.10, and X-T2 2.00 and 2.10, firmware updates continue in that tradition of satisfying high expectations and have extended both cameras’ usability and capabilities.

Gaps do remain, though, and they are mostly on the X-Pro2 side. Not everyone with high expectations loves the DSLR-style form factor of the X-T2 and there are many of us who are digital refugees from Leica rangefinder days or who could never afford their digital M-System cameras and who can now satisfy their rangefinder-style needs with the X-Pro2.

Will the X-Pro3 one day gain what Fujifilm has left out of the X-Pro2?

Will the X-Pro series lag behind the X-T series’ feature set turning the former into stills-only camera and the latter into a stills-plus-video compromise?

Is the rumoured APS-C super camera the one to watch for high-end Super 35 video?

Does Fujifilm have a blind spot for the incredibly useful exposure zebras functionality on its cameras? And if so, why?

I know I will be getting an X-T2 sometime soon, for the subjects and lenses to which its DSLR-style form factor is well-suited.

I know I will continue to love the X-Pro2 for giving me back the rangefinder-style way of documentary photography I had thought had gone forever during the DSLR ascendancy.

I want another X-Pro2 in my documentary kit as a backup and for when Fujifilm comes out with a revamped XF 18mm f/2.0, as wide lens to the XF 50mm f/2.0’s narrower vision.

But like more than a few fellow X-Pro2 users out there, I want to see the X-Pro2 series flagship cameras remain on a near-equal feature-set footing with their X-T series sisters and that demands improving the video features on both.

Is Fujifilm already planning the next pair of firmware updates and are they listening just as intently to their ever-growing user base?

Links: 

Videographer/Editor Steve MacDonald’s ‘The Fujifilm X-Pro2 Video Set-Up Guide’ Ebook Released at FujiLove

Videographer and editor Steve MacDonald has released an ebook on how to get the best out of setting up, shooting and grading video footage your Fujifilm X-Pro2 rangefinder-style APS-C/Super 16 hybrid digital camera. I highly recommend The Fujifilm X-Pro2 Video Set-Up Guide to anyone seeking to shoot video with this amazing camera. 

ebook_fuji-xpro2_video_setup_guide_cover_1024pxPre-release excitement about Fujfilm’s X-Pro2 reached fever pitch when the rumour that it would be capable of 4K video began circulating early last year.

That excitement began abating when the camera appeared with 1080p Full HD only, though some Fujifilm staff members seemed to think that a 4K firmware update would be released soon after the arrival of the X-T2 some months thence.

The 4K update never did appear and that initial excitement about the X-Pro2 as a viable video camera seems to have all but disappeared.

Those demanding 4K video on Fujifilm cameras soon turned their attentions exclusively to the X-T2 and its X-T20 spin-off, forgetting altogether that the X-Pro2 remains a highly promising video camera despite the video functionality of its firmware remaining less than fully-featured.

My X-Pro2 and a distant OVF movie camera relative

I wrote a letter to Fujifilm about the X-Pro2 last year after Paul Leeming wrote his letter to Fujifilm on the X-T2 because I want, nay, need the X-Pro2 to be a production-quality video camera that I can carry with me everywhere at all times even if mostly keeping my eyes peeled for stills photography rather than moviemaking opportunities at the moment.

One thing I know for sure is that anything can happen in the great world outside our doors and best to be prepared for it. That might have been a sentiment underlying the Reuters news agency’s request to Canon to add video capability to its EOS 5D Mark II way back when, accidentally kicking off the DSLR video revolution that preceded the even more radical DSLM aka mirrorless revolution of recent years.

Mr MacDonald’s ebook, born of years of experience as a San Franciscan video professional who bought his X-Pro2 primarily as a video camera, is worth investing in if you want to get great video out of your X-Pro2 investment.

The X-Pro2’s sensor is, after all, the very same one as the sensor in the X-T2 that Fujifilm is focussing on as the more videocentric of the two. So why not sharpen your video skills and make the most of that brilliant rangefinder-style camera on your shoulder?

Right now the X-Pro2 might be just a great 1080p video camera and not a 4K powerhouse and may remain so if Billy Luong’s efforts don’t bear fruit, but more than a few TV shows and documentaries on our screens right now were shot in 1080p HD and broadcast in 720p HD so there is plenty of mileage still in non-4K formats.

Links:

Competitions: RØDE Microphones’ My RØDE Reel 2017 and Zacuto’s My Story Filmmaking Competition

There are three short film competitions to watch out for each year and two of them hail from this part of the planet, The Antipodes. Two are current, RØDE Microphones‘ My Røde Reel and Zacuto‘s My Story Film Competition, with the latter closing acceptance of entries on 31st March and the former closing entries acceptance on 30th June. 

New Zealand colour grading software maker FilmConvert‘s Color Up Competition is in between seasons right now, as it were, with 2017’s coming later in the year. Time flies so I am sharing details here so you can be ready for when comp time comes around.

RØDE Microphone’s My RØDE Reel

Click the image above to go to the competition web page.

All three competitions come with great lists of attractive movie-industry prizes and sponsors, with RØDE Microphones stating that My RØDE Reel, now in its fourth year, “is the world’s largest short film competition”.

My RØDE Reel is also notable in that it offers a special Female Filmmaker award that is “selected by the judging panel, [and] is designed to encourage and celebrate women in the film community.”

I will leave it up to the three companies to share the details about each competition as only they can so if you wish to know more, please click on the links embedded in the text above or the links below.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.

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

blackmagic_ursa_mini_pro_side_ef-mount_1920px

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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Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.