Image and specs of Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Leaked

canon_ef50f18stm_002

The image above is reportedly the first leaked photo of the upcoming Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM. It is supposed to be the replacement for the very popular and budget friendly 50mm f/1.8 II lens.

The image and specs were first leaked by Digicam-info.

The preliminary list of specifications are as follows-

  • Lens arrangement 5-group, six (Construction: 6 elements in 5 groups)
  • Optimized coatings to minimize aberrations on contemporary digital cameras
  • Features STM (Stepping motor) to aid with continuous focus while shooting video
  • Full-time manual focus (auto focus over ride)

The dimensions listed are as follows-

  • Length: 39.3mm
  • Weight: 160g (1.55″)
  • 49mm filter thread

Surprisingly it does not appear to have image stabilization. “It is going to be a cheap lens,” as reported by Digicam-info.

First thing to immediately jump off the page, so to speak is the upgraded build quality. The lens finally features a metal mount. From the slight increase in weight, one can also infer that over all build quality would have also got a bump up.

CanonWatch reports that  official announcement would be soon.

NABShow Roundup- Quickthoughts on why the Canon XC 10 is NOT a game changer

Canon released an interesting concept camera at the NAB trade show recently.- the XC-10.

XC10_1Image courtesy Canon on Twitter.

It is positioned as a camera that is equal part a stills and a video camera. It promises to deliver both types of media, with an appropriate user experience for both styles of shooting.

The trend of the last five years or so have ensure that still photography and videography work in tandem in the consumer space. The web is our biggest source of consumption of information, and still images, video and audio are essential to the way we treat information and News and how we consume it. Most publications are now taking this multimedia route.

Journalists in the field (including my self) now have to produce multimedia content. Crew sizes are much smaller, turn around times are much shorter. You have to be able to shoot, edit , package and deliver. This is the need of the hour. There are multiple distribution channels that need to be satisfied, especially on the web with Social Media now playing such a huge role in how publications deliver their content.

In a recent conversation I had with a friend of mine who works with international wire agencies, he listed 3 skills that were essential to get hired as a photographer in today’s scenario- a) Still Photography, b) Video and basic editing skill, and c) Basic web developing/ Coding; I agree with him entirely. One has to become a content producer to keep up and sustain in today’s world. Moreover, it is now very necessary to add value to the product that you have been asked to create by your publisher, for instance, you could deliver a podcast to your publisher from the same video interview.

I always like to play Devil’s Advocate with myself, whenever debating on new features of a product or learning new skills- ” If your camera can do it, why cant you?”

The 5D mark II came into being,  due to the needs of multimedia journalists. Wire news photographers or embedded photographers, especially in situations covering subjects such as conflict were required to do all these things all on their own. The need of the hour was to have a camera that delivers both. Previously, photographers were producing multimedia content but not so efficiently or conveniently as they were forced to use multiple pieces of equipment such as a still camera, a separate smaller camcorder style video camera, a voice recorder and a satellite  phone. Now just in a couple of years, all of that has shrunk down into one or two pieces of equipment. The HDSLR now records, decent audio (although the 1D series of old, did have a inbuilt small mic for recording comments etc. to images), it shoots video, it delivers high resolution images and in some cases it also has inbuilt wifi or a WLAN connection to quickly deliver images.

For a multimedia producer, it is a empowering and balanced tool that fullfills most needs, barring a few tweaks here and there. in my opinion it is better that these areas are there as every individual can then tweak the camera and add more devices such as sound recorders etc. based on personal preference.

The problem lies in the implementation of the HDSLR to documentary work or to independent film making. This is where the industry is in a crunch. The implementation of HDSLR to long version documentary video or to indie cine has put pressure on camera manufacturers to gear still camera more towards video and less on stills. What the industry has to realise is that the HDSLR can never satisfy the needs of broadcast documentary or indie cine. The HDSLR is not designed to deliver, broadcast-able HD 422 50mbps video. To do that you need to slap on an external recorder, and a power source on top of the light and sound gear already mounted on the camera. You end up with a setup that cannot be handled by a single operator. Now, once you have already made that jump to having a crew around, then handling any camera becomes easy irrespective of big or small. My argument always is that, for the one man band that is the multimedia journalist, the HDSLR is a satisfactory and balanced machine. Now, in the past year or so, there are cameras such as the Sony A7s that deliver broadcast ready footage and other pro video features such as the ability to shot in LOG on board, but they do so at the cost of resolution; the A7s delivers only 12 mega pixel still images.

The added advantage however with cameras such as the A7s or the GH4 is the size. This lends them to other styles of drone photography. This I agree is a huge advantage.

Now enters the XC 10.

It is in Canon’s billing this as an equal parts still and video camera meant for multimedia use, is where I find its biggest short fall.

Form factor wise, it resembles a mix of the cinema EOS line and the the DSLR line. There are some features such as the rotating hand grip from the XF line of camcorders. This is a very nice feature. This, coupled with the tilting screen really aids shooting at lower angels, and even in situations where you have to frame a shot while the camera is above eye level.

The screen on the back is a 3 inch 1,030,000-dot LCD and features a full 100% coverage. This is great as it helps monitor the edges of the shot well. More over it is a capacitive touchscreen which allows easy access of settings that don’t have dedicated buttons.

The ergonomics of the XC 10 however are not that comfortable for stills use. Canon provides a “clip on” finder for use outdoors or shooting stills. The lack of an inbuilt electronic finder is a deterrent  as a clip on finder does become a bit cumbersome for practical purposes.

The XC 10 is about approx. 5inches in all dimensions of length, breadth and height. This small size is helped by the fact that it uses a 1 inch 12 mega pixel sensor. The 1 inch size sensor has become popular recently due to its larger size and low noise capability at higher ISO as compared to broadcast camcorders which are typically 1/3rd inch or 1/2inch sensor cameras.

With a 4224 x 3164 total resolution, it is able to capture video at up to 3840 x 2160 (4k UHD resolution). Photos are captured in a 4:3 aspect ratio at 12-megapixels (4000 x 3000). The 4:3 aspect ratio is not a very friendly or prevalent ratio, secondly 12 megapixels does not yield a big enough file size. More over, the camera only records stills in JPEG format. RAW or even TIFF recording for still images is not implemented. This is a big down side of this camera.

Video is recorded with H.264 compression and with the widely supported MXF wrapper. Bitrates of 35 and 50 Mbps are available for 1080i/p recording, and there are 205 and 305 Mbps modes (depending on frame rate) for UltraHD 4K. This is upto industry standard and would really help if this camera is used as a B-camera  to inter cut footage from a Cinema EOS Camera being used as a master camera.

The XC 10 does also feature a few pro recording formats from the cinema EOS line such as the Canon LOG gamma and the Wide DR gamma. This is a great step as it really helps budget and mid range video productions which want to use this as a second or a third camera on set.

 Recording media wise, the XC 10 has 2 card slots. One is a SD (SDXC,SDHC compatible) slot. Still images and Video (up to 1080p), is stored in this slot. Moreover the SD card slot can also be used to store user customizations and settings. To accommodate the up to 305 Mbps that 4K video capture requires there is a separate CFast card slot. CFast as media storage is getting a push however, it is not a very readily available card, more over it is a very expensive card. A 64GB card is approx INR 35,000/- (500 USD) on the market. This I’m sure is more of a move to make the camera future proof as the availability and price of these cards is a huge deterrent. An independent user buying into or upgrading to a cinema EOS line such as the C300 markII (which also uses the same cards) would probably look to buy into this media as it is only a smaller additional investment when you take into account the price of the camera and the system, however, as a new user buying into the XC 10, the cost of the card, I’m sure would play on the minds of many seeing as it is the only way of recording 4K on this camera.

Moving on,  the camera has a fixed (non interchangeable) 10x f/2.8 to 5.6 SLR-style manual zoom lens with auto and manual focus capability. The 8.9 to 89mm lens yields a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27.3 to 273mm in video mode and 24.1 to 241mm in the 4:3 photo modes. This move by Canon has come as a surprise to most photographers, most have been wanting more in this department. The lack of interchangeability of lenses and the slowness of the lens supplied does not yield itself to much practical application in the ENG/EFP (Electronic New Gathering/ Electronic Field Production) and run and gun use.

The XC 10 is priced at USD 2,500/- internationally and expected to be made available in June 2015. No word on pricing or availability in India.

For what the XC 10 promises and what it delivers,there evidently seems to be a gap. Price, lensing, ergonomics and media wise, it may not be the best option out there for field use for most professional multimedia producers or enthusiasts and young professionals looking to get into 4K. Will there every be a complete camera that satisfies all the needs of photographers,videographers and multimedia producers, I’m not so sure, but I remain hopeful. The XC10 surely though is not that camera.

The XC 10 however is a great camera for use in Independent cinema production and would be a huge hit with users who would want a small but powerful 4K camera with more features than a GoPro and less size and weight than a DSLR for use on gimbals, jibs etc. Drone photographers would seriously benefit from the XC 10 and surely it is a segment that the camera will capture well and Canon will exploit well with this offering.

NABShow Roundup- Quick thoughts – The future of 4K broadcast with Sony HDC-4300

As the NAB trade show came to a close, I chose to look back and pick the most important and crucial piece of equipment launched. Only one comes to mind.
The Sony HDC 4300 camera.

sony 3Image courtesy Sony on Twitter

The Sony HDC 4300 is a 4K camera with 3(three) 2/3rd inch sensors. This is why it is so special. It is a confluence of two technologies that have till now existed separately- broadcast technology and 4K technology.

Technology for broadcast (ENG/EFP) and cinema/film making grew together from Standard Definition to High Definition. The evolution from HD to 4K has not been so synchronous. Till now, 4K was effectively being addressed only in the production and film making side of things. The Super 35mm size sensor was touted as the only way possible of taking UHD/4K forward. No doubt such a large sensor does deliver an image that is very beautiful to look at, however, lensing and broadcast transmission wise, these are not very convenient.

Existing, top of the line 4K super 35mm sensor cameras from Sony such as the F5/55 and the venerable F65 have been used in a broadcast/live situation, however, their size and form factor is a huge deterrent. Moreover designing an over all, all in one, responsive and convenient lens for fast use such as in a sports, News studio and live cross situations is just not possible. Further addressing things such as auto focus which is so necessary for sports is almost impossible. Lenses for 2/3rd inch cameras can be upto 100x and still aid auto focus. These are the large “box” lenses most popularly seen at sports events such as F1, soccer, golf or any other sporitng even for that matter. The lens with the biggest magnification for Super 35mm is the Canon 50-1000mm Cine Servo but its relatively slow aperture of T 5.0-8.9 does not lend itself to practical usage in fast and quickly changing environments such as News and Sports. More over, it does not facilitate auto focus.

f65 liveThe F65 rigged up in a live/studio environment with the Fujinon Cabrio 19-90mm lens. Image from Sony Europe website.

Therefore a 4K camera with 2/3rd inch sensors is such a vital and necessary invention. It is what any forward thinking broadcaster and camera operator would want.

Moreover, with the Tokyo Olympics earmarked to to deliver 4K/8K broadcast, this announcement comes at the correct time.

The Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communications (MIC) launched a roadmap showing that, test broadcasts of 4K/8K via BS satellite television will begin next year 2016 in time for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, followed by on-air 8K broadcasting which is scheduled to start by 2018 in Japan. The MIC anticipates that 4K/8K broadcasting should be accessible to users in public viewing spaces in Japan for Tokyo 2020 games and 4K/8K-resolution television sets should be widespread and popular with consumers by that time. 4K UHD transmission has already begun in India on the 4k UHD TataSky platform.

The Sony HDC – 4300 is a solution that works straight out of the box. It is ready for immediate implementation in the field. The camera is fully compatible with  wide range of existing B4 mount lenses and editing and broadcasting workflows, as well as viewfinders, adaptors and camera control units. It does 4K, HD and 8x super slow motion. It is a dream come true for broadcasters that are eying switching to 4k in the future. It integrates seamlessly with present HD infrastructure of most television channels. More importantly, the camera is going to be made available in May this year, and will be put to use by some broadcasters in the USA as early as June.

All in all, it is a very welcome step by Sony, ensuring familiarity and continuation. This takes the next logical step in the complete evolution to 4K; and it also brings the 2/3rd inch broadcast platform to the next generation of broadcasting.

NAB Show Update – Quick thoughts – Blackmagic Design unveil a host of products!

Blackmagic Design (BMD) are a revolutionary company. They are always pushing the boundaries of conventional technologies. A NAB Show 2015 they unveiled a bunch of new products that further this reputation of theirs.

Lets begin with the smallest- the Micro Cinema Camera

Smallest only in name and in form factor, this camera packs a punch. This is one of the most exciting product releases if you consider all the filming possibilities with this camera.

BMMCCImage courtesy Blackmagic Design Website

This is a robust professional-grade action camera made from magnesium with a Micro Four Thirds lens mount.

From the looks of it, its built solidly and is very customizable. It takes bits of technology from many different manufacturers to build one complete unit.

It features a Super 16mm sensor, which is approximately about a third smaller than a conventional Micro Four Thirds sensor. This sensor is still significantly  larger than other comparable action cameras on the market. More over, it offers interchangeable lenses, a very welcome addition to this segment.

It can output Raw video or Apple ProRes with a claimed 13-stops of dynamic range.

Interestingly the camera offers the ability of using  both a rolling and a global shutter. This is a very welcome feature as the global shutter helps in eliminating the “jello effect” commonly found when using a rolling shutter for fast action shots in cameras like this. However recording is limited to 1080p 30fps when using the global shutter; when using the rolling shutter though, shooters can capture 1080p 60fps in 12-bit Raw or ProRes.

The camera is a bit weighted,  at 300 grams if you compare it to other offerings by Contour, Sony, GoPro etc.

BMD however claim  that it is still light enough to take flight in a DJI Phantom 2 drone.

The camera runs of Canon’s LP-E6 battery, which is very commonly found on most Pro level DSLRs. This is a nice move considering its a very robust battery and most pro users already have plenty of devices (not just DSLRs) that run on these batteries.

Blackmagic have eschewed from their previous design features such as the touch screen LCD and have instead gone with button controls on this camera. There are only 6 such buttons for record start-stop, playback, rewind, forward, menu and the on and off switch. These are conveniently sandwiched between the lens mount ant the Rec tally light.

Located on the same side is an HDMI output (very convenient) and  a port labelled “Expansion” . This port can be used for a number of things, such as wirelessly controlling the camera or linking to a wireless video transmitter.  Read more about the expansion port, and its possibilities here.

Conveniently located on the other side of the lens mount is an SDXC and SDHC compatible card slot  and a 3.5mm audio input is need be. The unit can be used as a regular camera if need be with the help of the appropriate rig.The unit sports standard 1/4″ thread mounts on the top and bottom of the camera body for mounting. This is an excellent unit considering the purpose for which it is built, action and sports use, and to be used on drones, rigs, dollies and jibs.
The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera is available now and has an international price of US$ 995/- (no word on India pricing yet).

Moving on to the next major announcement – The URSA Mini

This announcement from BMD created the most buzz. The URSA Mini, is  a compact and lightweight Super 35 digital camera meant for handheld and over the shoulder use. It features features a new 4.6K image sensor that also announced . This sensor is available for upgrade for the full size URSA too.

The camera features, switchable global or rolling shutter, and claims to have up to 15 stops of dynamic range, can record RAW and Apple ProRes to CFast 2.0 card in two record slots.

The URSA Mini is available in 4 customizations of either EF or PL lens mounts and 4K or 4.6K image sensors. It is to be noted that the 4k sensor has a claimed dynamic range of 12 stops.

BMD are positioning this camera as for “one man band” shooters and for crews with a smaller foot print with its “over the shoulder” design and form factor. BMD is also supplying and optional shoulder Kit, which features a quick release mounting plate so that it is easier to shift from handheld to shoulder or to a tripod use quickly. Blackmagic also released the URSA Viewfinder, which makes the URSA Mini perfect for run and gun shooting situations. The view finder does not come supplied with the camera.

The  viewfinder is high spec-ed and features a high resolution 1920 x 1080 color OLED display and glass based optics. This is a very welcome step!

The Camera is expected to be available in July starting from US$2,995 for the URSA Mini 4K EFmount, US$3,495 for the URSA Mini 4K PL mount, US$4,995 and for the URSA Mini 4.6K EF mount and US$5,495 for the URSA Mini 4.6K PL mount models.

Another nifty piece of equipment that was announced was the  – Blackmagic Video Assist

It is a portable, all in one professional monitor and video recorder that can be used with any camera outputting clean signals over SDI or HDMI.

It is a small and compact device featuring a full HD 1920×1080 5inch monitor screen for recording and monitoring. The screen is a touchscreen and has an over lay UI.

Shooters can record broadcast quality 10-bit 4:2:2 video onto SD cards in Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD  formats.

The Video Assist runs on a standard Canon LP-E6 battery and features 2 slots for allowing allowing swapping of dead batteries while in use.

More over it has on board down conversion, and would probably be the monitor of choice for the Micro Cinema Camera. All in all a very very high quality monitor-recorder combo.

Priced at US $495/- and soon to be available in July, its a compelling product considering all its features.

Blackmagic also released a major upgrade to its color grading and editing software- DaVinci Resolve

BMD gave its biggest ever upgrade to the hugely popular Resolve software.  Version 12 now has  over 80 new features for professional editing and color grading.

“Over the years, we have worked hard to build in improvements in each release,” Blackmagic founder and CEO Grant Petty said in an email announcement to customers delivered before NAB opened. “This year, I feel we have added more new features to DaVinci Resolve than we have in the last five years combined.”

Blackmagic are now pushing it as a major Pro Non Liner Editing platform, and rightly so. The update includes a new modern interface, multi-cam editing, new media management tools, a new professional audio engine , shot matching, 3D keying, new 3D perspective tracker and enhanced curve editing.

DaVinci resolve lite remains a free download, the software version with stereoscopic workflow, real-time power mastering capabilities, and  GPU-accelerated noise-reduction capabilities, is priced at Us$995/-

NAB Show Update – Quickthoughts – The Canon C300 MarkII arrives

[Update- More info about backwards/forwards compatibility of accessories]

Canon finally unveiled the long awaited upgrade to the hugely popular C300 with the Mark II version. Though the announcement was made a few days ago, the final product was unveiled on the first day of the NAB Show 2015.

Many professionals and rumour sites had correctly predicted that the new C300 markII would be a 4K camera that followed the lines of the original. The form factor, shape and handling is largely unchanged, but Canon engineers seem to have made significant improvements that may fit the camera into modern broadcast environments, and also match upto comparable offerings from main rivals such as Sony and Blackmagic design.

Canon claims that the camera  fifteen stops of dynamic range – 3 stops more greater than the original C300 and also 1 stop more than its direct competitor the Sony FS7. It allows 4K capture internally in 4:2:2 at 10-bit depth. The camera can also record 2K or HD resolution at 120fps.

Canon c300

Image courtesy Canon on twitter

Canon has significantly increased the processing power of the camera with dual Digic DV 5 processors. As a result sensor read out and refresh speed is said to be twice as fast as the original C300. Rolling shutter artifacts, moire and false colour would significantly be be reduced as a result.

The images coming out of the camera are said to be significantly better than the very popular MarkI version. The original C300 was hugely popular for its small form factor, and convenience of using native EF mount photographic lenses.

Canon has improved the colour science and the recording formats.  Canon Log2 replaces the original Canon Log picture profile and provides more detail in the shadows as compared to the original profile.

The hugely popular  WideDR gamma picture profile also gets a bump with a new Wide DR (flat) picture profile. These picture profiles are great for shooters who want an image that retains some highlight and shadow detail, while still being usable with minimal grading and short production times and smaller budgets. In my experience, these picture profiles respond great in high contrast lighting situations where there is a lot of exposure difference between the highlights and shadows. The beauty of the Wide DR gamma profile lies in  a very efficient highlight roll -off and retention of detail. I hope the new WideDR (flat) profile further adds to that.

A very welcome feature is what Canon chooses to call “Looks”. These are certain adjustments  in the colour so that the Canon C300 mark II matchs the Log settings of other popular cinema cameras such as the ARRI Alexa and Sony F55. This implies that the C300 markII can be intercut as a B or C camera when used alongside those other mainstay production cameras. This is a significant step by Canon to become a major player as a B or a C camera in large productions. The small form factor and size now further enable the C300 markII to be  rigged in setups such as gimbals,jibs and dollies.

The already great low light performance is said to be further improved. In addition, the ISO range now starts at a low 100 and goes to 102,400. Native sensitivity is ISO 800 when using Canon Log 2. Interestingly Canon has tweaked the picture profile to give constant dynamic range from ISO 800 onwards. Im not sure of how this works technically, but cant wait to test it out in a real world situation.

Canon has also made the camera “future proof” in the sense of providing a wider colour range. The Mark II is now capable of using the REC.2020 colour gamut which is considerably wider than REC.709. This makes the camera ready for future masters and shift in broadcast colour space if required as and when 4k broadcast becomes possible.

The Canon C300 Mark II records a 4K image at a extraordinary 410Mbps in 10-bit 4:2:2 at up to 29.97 frames per second (fps) internally to CFast 2.0 cards using the new XF-AVC Intra codec. 2K and HD can be recorded at RGB 444 in 10-bit at 210Mbps, or even 12-bit at 225Mbps to CFast 2.0 using the same codec.

Canon’s implementation of the AVCHD codec, the XF-AVC Intra is similar in concept to Sony’s XAVC Intra frame codec. It essentially is a H.264 AVCHD codec using the .MXF wrapper. AVCHD is fast becoming a more largely implemented codec across camera models and various camera manufacturers. Canon expects most major pro editing platforms to support it by the time the begins shipping. Apple announced just yesterday their support for Sony XAVC-S format in their update of the FCP X. (See previous post for more)

The C300 MarkII has the capability of recording a proxy file  in lower bitrate 8-bit 2K/HD 4:2:0 to a SD card while recording the higher bitrate XF-AVC Intra  to a CFast 2.0 card.  In some cases this may be good enough to be used as a deliverable where a file has to be rapidly sent to a broadcaster in a quick turn around time environment.

Where the Canon C300 MarkII is the most limited perhaps is the  2K/HD high speed recording. It does high frame rates at either 120 or 100fps (depending on the PAL/NTSC setting). Both the comparable offerings from Sony, the  F5 and FS7 run at faster frame rates. Additionally the C300 MarkII needs to be set in a crop mode to attain these frame rates.

Even smaller competitors such as Sony’s A7s manage to shoot at 120fps without a crop factor mode engaged. However one thing to keep in mind is a degree of softness and aliasing the Sony’s are plagued with while shooting at high frame rate in the aforementioned crop mode. It will be interesting if the Canon can provide a better overall image at 120fps.

The shape and form factor of the C300 Mark II remain largely unchanged to those of the Mark I. The body in itself weighs 1880g, slightly more than the original at 1430g. With LCD, grip and handle it weighs 3.37kg compared to the Mark I at 2.7kg.

Overall though Canon claim the body is stronger and more durable. There are rubber seals on the buttons and more die cast parts. The buttons on the side of the camera now illuminate in the dark to help setup. The handgrip has also been upgraded and is more robust than the original C300 grip and offers more mounting options.

The EVF is now OLED and has an improved contrast ratio of 5000:1 vs 270:1 on the original C300. This significantly improves ease of hand held use.

The redesigned LCD and audio input accessories now feature  detachable cables at both ends. This really helps do away with the bending and breakage problems that plagued the cables of the original C300. The interchangeability also means that  longer cables can now easily be fitted by the camera operators themselves depending upon the size of their rig. Earlier, cable extensions could only be fitted by a service engineer at a Canon service center. The two different cable lengths now being offered are 50cm and 100cm.

Taking customization and interchangeability a step further, Canon have decided to do away with the separate PL and EF lens mount versions of the camera. Instead the camera comes in EF mount by default but it has an interchangeable front  that can be replaced by a PL service mount. This service mount can also be shimmed to guarantee proper flange back adjustment for cine lenses.

A big downside is that the the PL mount does not support the Cooke-I lens meta-data information system and power to the lens.

Built-in neutral density (ND) filters of the original C300 were very welcome by indie film makers making the jump from DSLRs. Canon have improved this even further with the C300 MarkII. Now there are two ND filter wheels with a total of six ND settings (OFF,2 stops,4 stops,6 stops,8 stops and 10 stops). The second filter wheel is engaged via a custom setting and adds the stronger ND values.

The C 300 markII draws more power that the original version due to the onboard 4k recording, hence, new batteries. The batteries are now 14.4 volts.The camera is NOT backwards compatible with the older batteries from the C300 and C100 MarkI versions. Also, the handle and the LCD from the Mark I version cannot be used with the Mark II due to a difference in the way the two are mounted from previous versions.

Autofocus is a huge strong point of Canon’s success. Canon’s Dual Pixel AF (DPAF) system also sees an improvement. It now comes fitted with the camera, unlike the original version where it was a paid upgrade. This is a very special feature. The AF area now covers nearly 80% of the sensor area. “Face detect” is also brought over from the C100 MarkII and the speed of AF can be adjusted in ten steps. You can also change the AF tracking characteristics in a similar way to altering them on a Canon Pro DSLR like the 1DX.

The AF area is also moveable by toggling using joystick on the handgrip.This is a revolutionary new AF system and I’m sure it will be widely adopted by more documentary and run and gun shooters internationally.

The C300 MakrII makes some significant departures from its earlier version by leaving out a few features. One significant omission is the MPEG2 XF 4.2.2. 50mbps codec which is hugely popular and a mainstay of the broadcast industry. Canon seems to be pushing new and existing users to migrate to the new AVCHD codec. This is a significant omission; the industry would not be migrating from the already well established MPEG2 4.2.2. 50mbps codec any time soon due to its ease, convenience and robustness. With television having significantly lesser and lesser turn around times, transcoding is rarely an option. I do not now if this feature would be added later by firmware upgrade. It should be in my opinion, and I’m sure I am not alone in requesting this.

The MarkII version also does away with onboard HD to SD down-conversion. This will significantly impact users of the C300 in live news situations such as Soccer, Formula 1 and Piece to Camera situations. A lot of the NEWS broadcasters (especially here in India) are still broadcasting in SD and use the HD files for archiving purposes. I’m not sure if this is a feature that can be added via firmware.

The big questions hovering over the C300 MarkII is the resistance it might face by  existing C300 users or Sony FS7/F5 users to migrate to the C300 MarkII system.

Canon faces stiff competition from Sony with their hugely popular and out spec-ed FS7 and F5 models. The FS7 at this point is priced significantly lower than the MarkII.

More over, the nature of field production has changed such, with many producers now engaging smaller cameras such as the BlackMagic Design, The Sony A7S and Panasonic’ s GH4 to great effect.

Another significant factor is the price gap between the current C300 and the MarkII version with the recently announced price drop. The MarkII version is priced approx 3times more, I’m sure this would play on the minds of broadcasters still demanding MPEG2 4.2.2. 50mbps content.

The Camera is priced at US $15,999/- internationally and will be made available by third quarter of this year.

The C300 too did face some tough competitions in its outset, however it quickly overcame that and became hugely popular with most shooters, I’m sure the MarkII will follow suite with a few tweaks.

________________

[If you found this blog post useful, it would be great if you could engage, share and subscribe to make it popular and take a step further in creating a free, objective and real world online resource for photography in India.]

NAB Show Update – Quickthoughts- Panasonic unveils 4k handheld large sensor camera

Panasonic unveiled a new 4k handheld, 4/3″ sensor camcorder called the AG-DVX200 at NAB today. The camera features a 13x stabilized lens. The camera can record 4K at 60P recording on SD card. It also features a Log gamma curve like Panasonic’s Varicam line of cameras and  claims 12 stops of dynamic range.

The lens on the DVX-200 is a f/2.8-4.5, 28-365mm equivalent zoom with 3 independent controls for iris, zoom and focus.

The prototype showed at the NAB announcement had an attractive colour way of bright red  accents with carbon-fiber patches on some parts of the camera.

CCfR-VPUEAAP7dt.jpg_large

Image was posted on twitter by Panasonic USA – @PanasonicUSA

As is the norm with this style of cameras, the it has a full controls on the operator side of the camera along with audio inputs and outputs on the right side.

The expected pricing is expected to be under $5,000/- and expected availability is fall of 2015.

Panasonic’s press release-

LAS VEGAS, NV (April 13, 2015) – Panasonic has announced the AG-DVX200 4K large-sensor, 4/3” handheld camcorder here at NAB 2015. The DVX200 will offer many top-end features including 4K/60p* recording, a 13X optical zoom and a V-Log L gamma curve (12 stops of latitude, target).

Delivering a shallow depth of field and a wide field of view, the DVX200 is the ideal companion camera to the company’s groundbreaking VariCam 35 4K camera/recorder. With an integrated lens design, the DVX200 will excel in independent film and documentary production, as well as event videography.

The DVX200 will be optimized for 4K/HD production, and shares the esteemed VariCam family characteristics of filmic tonality and colorimetry, with natural, subtle rendering of skin flesh tones, and a V-Log curve emulating the natural grey-scale rendition of the VariCam 35. The camcorder will incorporate a newly-developed 4/3” large-format MOS sensor and offer variable frame rate recording up to 120fps in FHD mode, enhancing the DVX200’s utility in sports and VFX production.

The new handheld 4K camcorder will offer an array of professional features including a newly-designed Leica Dicomar 4K F2.8~F4.5 zoom lens (4K/24p: 29.5 mm ~ 384.9 mm, HD: 28 mm ~ 365.3mm, 35 mm equivalent), time-code in/out, 3G HD-SDI and HDMI 2.0 (4K) video outs, easy focus and zooming, and programmable user buttons. 

The DVX200 will record 4K (4096 × 2160) / 24p, UHD (3840 × 2160) / HD (1920 × 1080) 60p / 50p / 30p / 25p / 24p in either MP4 / MOV file formats. There are two SD card** slots, facilitating backup and relay recording. For professionals working worldwide, the camera’s master frame rate is selectable between 59.94Hz (23.98Hz) / 50.00Hz / 24.00Hz.

The DVX200’s three manual operation lens rings—13x zoom (Cam driven), focus and iris—will provide a comfortable manual control similar to an interchangeable lens camera, but without the need for actual lens changes. The zoom ring’s solid feel and smooth action allow delicate ultra-slow zooming. In addition, the camera’s multi-step zoom control provides fast response and smooth zoom action, yielding the creative freedom every camera operator desires. The zoom control on the handle enables variable speed zoom, allowing fine zoom control even for low angle shots. The DVX200 also features an enhanced Image Stabilizer, including a five-axis Hybrid Image Stabilizer and 4x correction-area Image Stabilizer that produces clear images without blurring, and a micro-drive focus unit that improves focus speed, tracking and capture performance, facilitating 4K focusing and shallow focus shooting. 

The new Leica Dicomar 4K zoom lens with F2.8 aperture is an optimal choice for 4K video, with the ability to produce elegant imagery and subtle “bokeh” Also, Leica’s exacting quality standards serve to suppress the occurrence of ghosting and flare to a minimum. Since the DVX200 is an integrated-lens camcorder, there is no need to perform the flange back adjustments or shading corrections when changing lenses. Even with a large diameter lens, the DVX200’s weight and balance have been optimized to facilitate agile, mobile 4K acquisition. With superb center-of-gravity balance, the camcorder will be ideal for such flexible shooting applications as mounting on today’s popular stabilized camera rigs.

The AG-DVX200 utilizes a front element lens / filter diameter of 72mm, a very common size. It is expected that many third party lens accessory manufacturers will announce items such as close-up lenses and other desired options.   

The AG-DVX200 will feature next-generation ergonomics, with the battery positioned in the rear so as not to interfere during handheld shooting. The DVX200 comes with a rugged woven carbon,fiber-like finish, and the recording section is distinctively styled with crimson shading.

The AG-DVX200 will be available in Fall 2015 with a suggested list price under $5000.

* UHD (3840×2160) resolution, when 60p mode is selected.

** Requires a SD card of UHS speed class 3 (U3) for 4K recording.

NAB Show Update – Quickthoughts- Apple updates Final Cut Pro X, Compressor and Motion Apps

Though Apple is not officially exhibiting at the NAB trade Show 2015, it did  send out a press release announcing an update to its hugely popular video editing software, Final Cut Pro X, along with updates to companion apps Motion and Compressor. Motion and compressor function as the “back end” of the software, while FCP X works as the “front end”.

Apple has enhanced FCP X for increased GPU (graphic processing unit) performance. The updates bring new features for motion graphics and enhancements to speed up video editing, and delivery.

Editing and grading tasks are now more efficiently taken care off. Editors can now view upto four video scopes at one same time for precise color grading and correction applications. It also includes  support for more video formats such as Panasonic AVC-Ultra and Sony’s new XAVC-S recording format. Support for new codecs is very welcome, especially for the Sony’s implementation of AVC-HD format (XAVC) which is becoming vastly popular. Easier and faster workflow for working with RAW files from RED Cameras is also expected.

The press release includes quotes from Philip Schiller, Senior VP for Worldwide marketing-

“From Hollywood blockbuster directors to first time movie makers, Final Cut Pro X is changing the way we edit movies today. The updated Final Cut Pro X, Motion and Compressor make it even easier to edit, title and package everything from short videos to feature-length films.”

Motion 5.2 offers additional options for 3D titles, bringing tools for the making dynamic titles. Editor’s can now work with animated, customizable 3D text and convert 2D text to 3D text on the go.

Updates to Compressor 4.2 on the other hand now make it easier to prepare movies for sale on the iTunes Store.

The AVCHD (H.264) recording format gets a big hand of support from Apple with  the ability to now do multi-pass encoding which is a  popular format for viewing video on the Web ; it is now touted as 2.7 times faster in the new version using hardware acceleration built into Intel Core i5 or i7 systems such as the iMac and MacBook Pro.

Mac Pro users also get a boost with the ability to now use support of 2 GPU ‘s instead of one, if need be.

Other improvements include improved key-framing, copy and paste functionality in the timeline, mask and shape creation for rectangles and circles.

All in all, accelerated GPU performance seems to be at the center for Apple’s update.

All three software  are available as free to all existing users today.

New users can purchase them on the Mac App Store separately as required- The main app FCP X is priced at INR 18,500/- (~300USD)

Compressor and Motion are each priced at INR 3,500/- (~50USD)

NABShow Update – Quickthoughts- Convergent Design ups the game with major Odyssey 7Q/7Q+ FREE update

[ Update – Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q/7Q+ will support Canon c300 MarkII with 4k 60p in both RAW and Apple ProRes,HD120p supported in Apple ProRes]

Convergent Design (CD) just raised the stakes in the external recorder-monitor combo segment with the just announced update at NABShow 2015.

CD is now  actively expanding the performance and features of their  leading 4K recorder/monitors the Odyssey7Q and the new Odyssey7Q+ with regular firmware updates.

With the FREE update that the company just announced  to their existing 7Q/7Q+ recorders, which are getting 4K/UHD ProRes to 60p and 2K/HD 240p included at no extra cost.

The new features will be available for all currently supported and industry standard Apple ProRes formats, Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), Apple ProRes 422, and Apple ProRes 422 (LT).

[Read more about the update on Convergent Design’s Blog- http://bit.ly/1GDwxDj]

John Schell, Hardware Design Manager, Convergent Design said on the blog

“We are pleased to provide these capabilities at no cost to our clients. While designing the Odyssey Family of Products three years ago, Convergent Design had a vision of a comprehensive solution for monitoring and recording. This vision pushed us to design a multi-generational platform to support cameras and formats not yet developed. The capability built into the Odyssey platform from the beginning allows us to continue to unlock new cameras, formats, and features, giving our clients new tools to express their creativity. The addition of 4K60p and 2K240p Apple ProRes shows the continuing vision of the Odyssey platform.”

HFR – High frame rate material is fast becoming the norm for most filming purposes and especially for slow motion needs. Both Canon and Sony have implemented their own respective versions of the AVCHD codec in their latest camera, the Canon C-300 mark2 (in the form of XF-AVC) and Sony FS-7 (XAVC) to support this higher frame rate options such as 60p and 4k. The Canon though still only offers 4k at 30p.

Where external monitor-recorder combos such as the CD Odyssey 7Q/7Q+ really help, is the convenience of recording higher frame rates in a memory size friendly codec such as Apple ProRes. Natively high frame rates on these camera are only possible in a RAW data format with their respective native recorders (Sony has the R-5 extension unit for its F-5/F55 line of cameras).  High frame rates in RAW only consumes a lot of memory and significantly expands post production time and cost. More over, storing and archiving so much data over periods of time, further significantly increases costs for producer, production houses and indie- film makers.

The formats that are first going to be made available are the RAW signals from the Sony FS7 and the FS700 cameras. The formats included are – 60p in Apple ProRes for 4k/UHD/2k and HD, upto 240 fps in 2k or HD and upto 120fps in Apple ProRes for 4k/UHD (available on the FS700). The update will be made availabe in the future, free of cost to users already using the FS700 record option.

Future updates on the Odyssey 7Q/7Q+ will support 4k RAW and HD at upto 120fps from the Canon C500 as well as 4k/UHD video signals from the Sony F5/55.

Current owners of Record Options will receive increased capabilities within their Record Options at no additional cost.

CD has also gone a step further and added support for Samsung’s EVO line of SSD’s as well as the ability of custom Look Up Tables (LUT’s) while still routing “flat” log signals over SDI to engineers on location.

All in all a Convergent Design are providing a great product for high and mid level productions and have significantly up-ed the stakes with its main competitor and hugely popular  Shogun by Atomos.

Stay tuned for more on this blog from the NABShow 2015!

NAB 2015 is here!

The NAB Show 2015 kicks off today! More gear, more excitement and more all-nighters!
Stay tuned, will be bringing you the updates, the announcements, latest scoops and analysis and possibly a few guest posts and opinions.

Follow to catch the latest scoop on the latest gear!
or catch me over at twitter- https://twitter.com/KshitijNagar

Thanks
Kshitij

TIP- How to clean your camera like a pro

Your camera and lenses can easily get covered in dirt, sand and grime, especially if you shoot a lot out doors. The rubber surfaces of the camera can accumulate a lot of dust and sweat if you don’t clean it regularly. Hence giving it a regular clean becomes very important. As a photojournalist, I recommend you especially clean your equipment if you’ve been shooting in a dirty environment such as a hospital or the beach etc. The rubber surfaces of the camera can become apt breeding ground for germs if not cleaned away.

Maintaining and preserving your camera and equipment is almost as important as choosing the right camera for yourself.

A clean, well-maintained machine, is one you can trust and is less likely to suffer from  malfunctions. Regular clean and maintenance helps prevent and protect it from damage. It also helps protect your workflow and reputation too. There can be nothing worse than a camera that breaks down while on assignment.

When cleaning your kit, it’s important to remove dirt first with a brush before wiping down with cloth or tissues. This helps prevent dirt getting trapped in the cloth/tissue, which can scratch the surface that you’re trying to clean.

Follow these simple steps to efficiently clean your kit.

First start out by buying a set of brushes. You basically need 2-

1. A “Hard” brush. This is a normal painting brush found in most hardware/painting stores. The bristles on this are a bit harder and are more efficient in dislodging pieces of dirt from corners. Alternatively you could use a NEW tooth brush to use this. Do not use an old one, as the bristles would be spoilt and could potentially scratch your camera. This brush is for your camera and lens body only. Do not use this brush on your lens surface.

2. A “Soft” brush. I Recommend the LENSPEN. This is a simple, inexpensive but very effective device. Easily available online or in camera stores. You cant go wrong with this. It has two surfaces, one a soft brush to use on cleaning the front glass elements of your filter and lens, and another soft tip for removing any bigger particles. Buy a couple and always keep one in your camera bag. The other can rest in your desk drawer for convenience.

1

Just using these two things regularly (once a month or so) to clean your system, really helps protect your equipment. You don’t really need to do anything else. There are however other, slightly more elaborated methods to follow, which I will discuss further in this post.

Begin by –

Step 1. 

Begin by removing all accessories such as your strap etc. and then start to gently brush the surface using the painting brush. Pay attention to the more inaccessible areas such as the rubber dust caps, where dirt is likely to accumulate.

2

Always brush these areas gently and always “outwards” and away from the body. This helps prevent buildup of static electricity (that attracts dust) and also prevents dust from getting inside the ports, which is difficult to clean. Never brush your memory card slots. These are very sensitive; any sort of rubbing will build up static charge which will short circuit and spoil your cards.

Step 2.

Pay extra attention to all the nooks and crannies such as the corners of the strap mount, the view finder etc. Remove the rubber cap and gently brush between the surfaces. Use a soft tissue or lint free cloth (soft cotton cloth) to clean the glass surface. Dirt in these areas can be a bit difficult to clean sometimes, so I recommend using ear-buds and just A DROP or rubbing alcohol (easily availablein a chemist’s store.) Never use acetone (nail polish remover) this will eat up the plastic and rubber surfaces of your camera body. 5

Additionally I also recommend cleaning the rubber eye cup, especially in the summer months as it is very prone to buildup of dust and sweat and can lead to eye infections.

8

Step 3

The lens. Continue, gently using the hard brush on the body of your lens. Always remember to brush outwards. For the main lens surface, bring out the lens pen, using the soft brush side, gently brush away any loose dust on the glass elements.

6Secondly, now use the other soft tip for a thorough clean. Start out in the center and in a round spiral motion; work your way toward to the corners. 7

Do this twice to effectively clean you front element.

Voila! You have a clean kit!

Additionally here are a few things.

If you are as crazy as I am about cleanliness, buy a set of ‘Kimwipes’. These are tissues meant for laboratory use. These are not that expensive, and last a long time. (I bought mine online at amazon.in).

9

The reason I use them is because they are anti static, and help keep dust off the camera and lens surface. Just take a couple of tissue and rub down your camera and lens, especially surfaces that are more prone to dust and sweat, such as the finder, the LCD and the lens.

A quick note on weather and dust resistance of cameras- Most cameras and lenses are billed as weather and dust resistant, and they are! However this does not mean hat they don’t get dirty. Some lenses such as my Canon 24-105 shown here have an additional rubber seal at the back to stop dust etc. from getting inside.

10

This is a very effective feature, however, what you need to know is that this sealing is not complete, in the sense that canon recommends using a simple protection filter in the front to complete this sealing. I recommend using a B+W clear filter or a Marumi DHG (digital High Grade) for protection. I bought mine from Balaji Impex in New Delhi, they are the distributors in India for these filters.

(Contact- Mr. Deepak Gupta email- impexb@gmail.com phones- +919811 081481, +91 11 2386 7818)

Now, if you use multiple lenses and change them out often, eventually you will end up with dust in you mirror box. Cleaning this is simple too. Take off your lens and just gently give a few brushes with your lens pen. Just clean the finder and mirror surfaces, do not clean under the mirror as the shutter would then be exposed and you risk causing damage to it.

Some people prefer to perform a “wet” clean on their cameras, I do not recommend this for regular cleaning, but probably every 3months or so is alright. I prefer using a lint free cloth and only a few drops of rubbing alcohol poured onto the cloth. Refrain from pouring any cleaning liquid directly onto the camera. The “ozonized water” camera cleaning spray from Matin is also a good choice (also available at Balaji Impex) It helps clean your camera surface and keep it static free.

Now taking this a step further, as the climate of Delhi has changed from hot and dry to hot and humid, I’ve seen a change in the way my equipment behaves over the seasons. Moisture and fungus is HUGE trouble, and even in winter months, condensation tends to collect. I suggest investing in a “DRY CABINET” by Benro. (I bought mine online from www.photovatika.com)

11

These are now easily available. They are a bit expensive however, but in the long run, they are a very small investment when you take into account the cost of your gear. They help keep the dust out of your lenses and control the humidity, thus preventing any fungus buildup.

All in all, I would say, the step by step cleaning process is enough to help in maintaining your equipment, the rest of the suggestions are just add -ns for future proofing and preserving your equipment.

Caring for your equipment not only helps keep the bugs at bay but also helps in preserving the resale value of your equipment, as and when you look to sell it and upgrade/shift to a different system.

_______________

Update- Please read my ethics statement on the ‘About’ page regarding these links and suggestions.

_________

[If you found this blog post useful, it would be great if you could engage, share and subscribe to make it popular and take a step further in creating a free, objective and real world online resource for photography.]