Skydio R1 – Impressive Fully Autonomous 4K Drone

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Skydio R1 – Impressive Fully Autonomous 4K Drone
May 032018
 

The California-based startup Skydio has introduced a fully autonomous drone named Skydio R1. Its development took 4 years. The R1 is an artificial intelligence-powered quadcopter capable of shooting 4K video of a subject and maneuvering complex environments entirely on its own. It uses 13 onboard cameras and vision-based computer system to actually see the obstacles and avoid them while following and filming the desired subject.

There were initiatives to make autonomous drones before. We still remember the sad story behind the autonomous drone Lilly, which never made it in production. It is obviously quite a challenging task to design a drone that can safely fly in busy and changing environments. Skydio seems to have succeeded with the R1. Interesting fact is that their first batch of drones called “the frontier edition” is being assembled directly in their facility in the USA. The company did not say anything about outsourcing their production to China yet.

The Skydio R1 does not come with a controller. It can be controlled with a smartphone using the Skydio mobile app. Since this is an autonomous drone, users will not need the controls so often though. Mostly only take-off and landing of the drone are being managed through the app. Furthermore users can see video previews of footage there or control how the drone captures that footage with presets like:

  • follow – drone follows and films the subject from behind
  • side – drone films the subject from the side
  • lead – drone films its subject from the front
  • tripod – drone hovers at one place and turns to have the subject in the picture
  • orbit – drone circles around the subject to create 360-degree shots

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Sony Interview: FS5 II, What’s REALLY New?

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Sony Interview: FS5 II, What’s REALLY New?
Apr 092018
 

I spoke with Claus Pfeifer from Sony about the newly announced FS5 II and the other new cameras. And I asked the tough question: What’s REALLY new about the FS5 II?

A few hours ago Sony announced the FS5 II, an update to Sony’s little FS7 brother (see our report here). Some of our readers were asking: What’s REALLY new about it though? It seems to use the same sensor and have the same exact body as the original FS5. And while the FS7 II at least got the Vari ND feature that the FS7 was missing, the original FS5 already had that.

 

RAW for “free”, Better Color Science & “Instant HDR”

Sony is teasing the integrated RAW output functionality in the FS5 II, which was a payable firmware upgrade in the original FS5 – a welcome addition of a feature becoming standard, especially with the newly announced ProRes RAW (article here) and the upgrade of the Atomos Shogun Inferno and Sumo19 recorders to support ProRes RAW recording (article here). Now also the formerly payable high frame rate output and internal high frame rate recording capabilities are included with the FS5 II.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K Camera Hands on with CEO Grant Petty

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K Camera Hands on with CEO Grant Petty
Apr 092018
 

No longer only a mysterious billboard outside NAB 2018, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K camera is here and it shoots 12-bit RAW cinema 4K 60fps and full HD at up to 120fps — all at an impressive price point. The specs, pricing and more are below including an interview with Blackmagic Design CEO, Grant Petty: 

 

Unlike its HD-only predecessor, the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera, the new 4K version shoots full cinema 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) at up-to 60fps with a newly designed M4/3 (21.60 x 17.30mm) sensor. You’ll also be able to capture full HD 120 fps cropped (no info on how much of a crop) slow motion in both 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW and 10-bit Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) varieties. Unfortunately you won’t be able to shoot in the newly announced Pro Res RAW  at least not yet.

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Pre-Order Now:

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Body Only with Active Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount

$1295 with Free Expedited Shipping.

Canon M50 Hands-On Review – The Best Vlogging Camera?

 Gear  Comments Off on Canon M50 Hands-On Review – The Best Vlogging Camera?
Mar 142018
 

The Canon M50 was recently announced, and now I had a chance to review a pre-production version of it. Is Canon’s first attempt at a 4K mirrorless camera also the best vlogging camera out there? Let’s have a look.

A Beginner’s Camera

I can’t stress this point enough before diving deep into the camera’s functions: This is a beginner’s camera and its price point (below $800 or €600) make it a great deal compared to its competition. So whenever I lament about a missing function, this should be kept in mind. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison with the more expensive entry-level camera from Sony, the A6500, which is almost twice as expensive.

Tiny Footprint

The Canon M50 has a tiny footprint, and is sturdily built around Canon’s EOS M lens mount. A smaller version of the EOS lens mount – which is also backwards-compatible, but an adapter is needed. The camera feels very sturdy despite its entry-level status and it feels like it can take a beating. It seems like Canon designed this as a “family camera” that can be in anyone’s hand from time to time. The flip-out screen makes it very convenient to use from every angle. It gives a lot of  nice flexibility that their higher-end DSLR offerings are missing – lightness and the flexible screen, plus a decent viewfinder which can of course also be used for video. “Of course” because this is a mirrorless camera – on their DSLRs, the optical viewfinder becomes useless when you switch to the video modes, because the mirror blocks your view.

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LG Reveals Its First-ever 4K HDR, Compact and Affordable Home Cinema Projector

 Cinematography  Comments Off on LG Reveals Its First-ever 4K HDR, Compact and Affordable Home Cinema Projector
Jan 142018
 

At CES 2018, LG wants to hit the jackpot. Armed with its new invention to enhance the home cinema experience, LG has just announced the HU80KA projector, its first 4K UHD model designed to deliver ultra-sharp video in a compact, beautiful design.

As stated by Tim Alessi, head of product marketing at LG Electronics USA: “LG’s first-ever 4K UHD projector represents the pinnacle of innovation in the portable entertainment market… Offering superb brightness coupled with a design that offers true versatility, the new HU80KA will lead the way in changing how consumers enjoy 4K content in their home and on the go.”

150-inch screen, 2,500 lumens and HDR

The HU80KA projector has the potential to deliver a 150-inch screen projection with 2,500 lumens, making it LG’s brightest projector. Furthermore, it supports HDR content (HDR 10).

Regarding sound, external speakers can be connected via optical output, HDMI or wirelessly through Bluetooth for enhanced audio performance.

As stated by Tim Alessi, head of product marketing at LG Electronics USA: “LG’s first-ever 4K UHD projector represents the pinnacle of innovation in the portable entertainment market… Offering superb brightness coupled with a design that offers true versatility, the new HU80KA will lead the way in changing how consumers enjoy 4K content in their home and on the go.”

150-inch screen, 2,500 lumens and HDR

The HU80KA projector has the potential to deliver a 150-inch screen projection with 2,500 lumens, making it LG’s brightest projector. Furthermore, it supports HDR content (HDR 10).

Regarding sound, external speakers can be connected via optical output, HDMI or wirelessly through Bluetooth for enhanced audio performance.

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FUJIFILM X-E3 Review – Sample Footage and First Impressions

 Gear  Comments Off on FUJIFILM X-E3 Review – Sample Footage and First Impressions
Nov 132017
 

The new FUJIFILM X-E3 is the latest edition to the ever growing family of FUJIFILM’s X-mount line. This APS-C sensor-sized, mirrorless stills camera, can shoot high quality 4k (UHD) video and, dare I say it, is the best they have produced so far! As a reviewer, I had the chance to work with the X-PRO2, X-T2, X-T20 and the GFX 50S. While all produce nice looking images, the new X-E3 sets itself apart from the crowd by offering greater ease of use (mostly due to the added focus lever and LCD touch screen), enhanced autofocus capabilities and very pleasing video quality. Read on for my FUJIFILM X-E3 review. 

FUJIFILM was kind enough to supply me with a production sample that I could use and explore for a few days; here are my findings from my FUJIFILM X-E3 review:

Ergonomics

The first thing I noticed when taking the camera out of the box was how light-weight it is, to the point of not being sure if FUJIFILM had decided to pull my leg and send me an empty camera shell! In a world where every gram counts, particularly in relation to international travel, this is a big advantage.

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Canon XF405 Review – Sample Footage and First Impressions

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Canon XF405 Review – Sample Footage and First Impressions
Oct 262017
 

With the introduction of the new Canon XF405, XF400, LEGRIA/VIXIA GX10 – as well as the whole of Sony’s new line – one can assume that the fastest growing market for news and documentary shooting is coming in the form of 4K (UHD), handheld 1” sensor-size cameras. It is not that we haven’t had them before, but they certainly have been getting better and more feature-rich with time. When it comes to affordability… well, it totally depends on who you are talking to and the model you choose.

Canon XF405 camera

If you are an independent filmmaker looking for an all-round shooting device that can produce a bit of a cinematic look thanks to a slightly larger sensor than those traditionally found in these type of cameras, or if you’re a broadcaster looking to equip news crews with a versatile and affordable piece of equipment, then the Canon XF405/400/LEGRIA GX10 might be the right cameras for you. Sound tempting? Then read on for my full Canon XF405 review.

Before continuing, it is important for me to make it clear that the image coming out of the camera I tested may be slightly different than that of the final product.

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LG’s V30 Smartphone: 10-bit color, LG Cine-Log Video in a Phone?

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on LG’s V30 Smartphone: 10-bit color, LG Cine-Log Video in a Phone?
Oct 162017
 

Move over Apple, there’s a new kid in town. The LG V30 takes mobile video to new heights with a 10-bit HDR Image Sensor and LG Cine-Log gamma.

In case you didn’t catch that: the LG V30 promises to record 4K video at 10-bit color depth with log gamma encoding. Before getting too excited about this, it is important to separate fact from fiction, and cinema5D will do exactly this with the LG V30 after some thorough tests, the results of which you can expect in a subsequent article.

Meanwhile, check out Parker Walbeck’s LG V30 vs RED Weapon video on his YouTube channel Fulltime Filmmaker:

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Phantom Flex VEO 4K-PL Exclusive Hands-On

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Phantom Flex VEO 4K-PL Exclusive Hands-On
Oct 022017
 

Vision Research has recently introduced a new Phantom VEO 4K-PL, which like its older brother Phantom Flex 4K, can shoot up to 1000fps at full 4K DCI resolution, but in a smaller and more compact body.

What is the Phantom VEO line?

They say that when you touch a Phantom camera you go straight to heaven. At least that’s how I feel. Vision Research is a company that started out with high-speed cameras for military testing and analysing car-crash impacts, only to later turn its eye to the film industry with its revolutionary tech. In 2014, Vision Research introduced the mind-blowing Phantom Flex 4K camera, capable of 1000 frames-per-second at full 4K DCI resolution, in what many would consider the best quality 4K RAW compared to RED and even ARRI. Last year, Vision Research introduced the VEO line, a more compact version of their film industry cameras that continue the trend set by the ARRI Mini and RED – that smaller is better. Less weight and a more compact design mean more possibilities, such as the use of stabilisation platforms and even UAV. In comparison, the Phantom Flex 4K body weighs an incredible 5kg without ANYTHING on it. Add a lens, follow focus, rods, viewfinder, batteries, monitor and you can easily accumulate a weight that not many gimbals can handle.

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GoPro HERO6: This Is the Moment in 4K!

 Cinematography, Gear, News  Comments Off on GoPro HERO6: This Is the Moment in 4K!
Sep 282017
 

 

This Zunow Cine Wide Attachment CWA-114 Promises High-End Performance on Cine Zooms

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on This Zunow Cine Wide Attachment CWA-114 Promises High-End Performance on Cine Zooms
Sep 242017
 

The Zunow Cine Wide Attachment is the latest by the optics converter manufacturer. It promises x0.75 conversion with minimal light loss.

Zunow is known for its wide-angle converters, such as the DWA-075 for DSLR lenses or the WCX-100 for 4K zooms. The latest offering from Zunow is the CWA-114, an attachment specifically made with larger-diameter cinema lenses in mind.

Zunow Cine Wide Attachment: The CWA-114

The Zunow Cine Wide Attachment makes the focal length of your wide-angle cinema lens 0.75x larger through a 130mm front element that offers a minimal distortion of 1%, an almost maximum light transmission of 97% and 4K coating for maximum resolution from corner to corner. It aims to quickly offer a wide-angle option without the need to change lenses.

But what does this mean in numbers? Some of the examples provided by Zunow include:

  • FUJINON 20-120mm T3.5, which becomes a 15-75mm T3.6.
  • Canon 17-120mm T2.95-3.9, which becomes a 14-75mm T3.0-4.0 (with vignetting at 12.75-14mm).
  • ZEISS 21-100mm T2.9-3.9, which becomes a 15.75-75mm T3.0-4.0.

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iPhone 8 Plus Has the Best Smartphone Camera Ever, DxOMark Says

 Gear  Comments Off on iPhone 8 Plus Has the Best Smartphone Camera Ever, DxOMark Says
Sep 242017
 

The new iPhone 8 Plus has the best smartphone camera ever. That’s the conclusion DxOMark came to after the camera testing lab went hands-on with the new Apple smartphone. With a record score of 94, it’s now the clear leader in the market.

“The Apple iPhone 8 Plus has a main camera system truly worthy of a flagship phone,” DxOMark says in the opening of its newly published review. “[It’s] the best-performing mobile device camera we have ever tested.”

The upgrades given to the cameras — a 12MP main wide-angle camera (with a backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor and f/1.8 lens) and a 12MP telephoto camera (with a f/2.8 lens) — have improved its quality in every single category. The iPhone 8 Plus scores exceptionally high marks in both Zoom image quality and Bokeh quality, two new categories that DxOMark just added to its scoring system.

The score of 94 puts in 2 points ahead of the new iPhone 8 and 4 points ahead of the Google Pixel and HTC U11.

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Sony Unveils 3 New 1-inch Sensor Camcorders – AX700, NX80 & Z90

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Sony Unveils 3 New 1-inch Sensor Camcorders – AX700, NX80 & Z90
Sep 172017
 

Sony has just announced three new 4K HDR (3840×2160) palm-sized camcorders during IBC 2017 in Amsterdam: the XDCAM PXW-Z90, the NXCAM HXR-NX80 and the Handycam FDR-AX700 with an improved AF system.

The new camcorders have a Sony 1-inch stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor, and all three support an instant HDR (High Dynamic Range) workflow with HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma). According to Sony, the most exciting thing about these new camcorders will be the fast Hybrid Autofocus system.

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Vision Research introduces Phantom VEO 4KPL and Phantom VEO 590L

 Gear  Comments Off on Vision Research introduces Phantom VEO 4KPL and Phantom VEO 590L
Sep 062017
 

Vision Research has just introduced its newest flagship model, the Phantom VEO 4K PL, as well as the Phantom VEO 590S and VEO590L. How do these newly-introduced cameras compare to other models? Will the camera break my bank? We have the answers for you below.

What is the Phantom VEO line?

They say that when you touch a Phantom camera you go straight to heaven. At least that’s how I feel. Vision Research is a company that started out with high-speed cameras for military testing and analysing car-crash impacts, only to later turn its eye to the film industry with its revolutionary tech. In 2014, Vision Research introduced the mind-blowing Phantom Flex 4K camera, capable of 1000 frames-per-second at full 4K DCI resolution, in what many would consider the best quality 4K RAW compared to RED and even ARRI. Last year, Vision Research introduced the VEO line, a more compact version of their film industry cameras that continue the trend set by the ARRI Mini and RED – that smaller is better. Less weight and a more compact design mean more possibilities, such as the use of stabilisation platforms and even UAV. In comparison, the Phantom Flex 4K body weighs an incredible 5kg without ANYTHING on it. Add a lens, follow focus, rods, viewfinder, batteries, monitor and you can easily accumulate a weight that not many gimbals can handle.

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New Samsung T5 SSD is Super Fast – Enough for 4K Raw?

 Gear  Comments Off on New Samsung T5 SSD is Super Fast – Enough for 4K Raw?
Aug 232017
 

The recently-announced Samsung T5 SSD is a little V-NAND storage beast, capable of throughput speeds up to 540MB/s.

The Samsung T3 has been a popular external SSD for content creators since its introduction in 2016 thanks to its fast transfer speeds, rugged build and small size. Samsung has just updated the T3 with the new T5 version, which features a jump to the USB 3.1 Gen 2 protocol, doubling the potential data transfer rate from 5 to 10Gbps.

The 64-layer V-NAND architecture of the Samsung T5 offers potential transfer speeds of up to 540MB/s, making it one of the fastest external SSDs in the market and in theory fast enough to edit 4K raw footage off of. This is great as it would mean editing off of a single drive rather than from a RAID – the kind of storage system that can offer the required data transfer speed.

Bear in mind, though, that the T5 needs to squeeze every bit of those new 10Gbps it possible can, meaning that in order for the drive to reach its full transfer-speed potential, your computer needs to have a USB 3.1 Gen 2-compatible port. If you are not totally clear on the ins and outs of external drives, ports and transfer protocols, let me point you to this excellent recent article by Tim: Looking For a Fast Portable Drive? It May Not Be As Fast As You Think.

The Samsung T5 features an aluminium unibody for maximum ruggedness, weighs only 51g and is smaller than a business card, keeping with the dimensions of the earlier T3.

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Fstoppers Reviews the Insta360 Air: A Pocket-Sized 360-Degree Streaming Camera

 Gear  Comments Off on Fstoppers Reviews the Insta360 Air: A Pocket-Sized 360-Degree Streaming Camera
Aug 172017
 

Live streaming on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook is nothing new in the age of social media. It’s a fantastic tool for marketing or just showing how much fun you’re having on a fun new adventure. What if you were able to completely immerse your viewers in the environment you’re streaming? InstaAir 360 is one such a camera and I was given the opportunity to work with it.

To start I’ll give you the basics. The camera is available for both Android (both Micro USB and USB Type-C) and Apple devices. For lens elements, it has dual 210-degree lenses facing 180-degrees from each other. With a max output of 3K resolution images, and 2K (3K on certain phone models) video. Utilizing real-time stitching, you’re able to stream the views from the camera live on most social media applications. It featured built-in stabilization allowing for smooth operation. In addition, it can be used as a webcam with the included USB adapter.

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Which Video Camera Would You Buy Today? Here’s a Comparison of 4K Systems from Canon, Sony, and Others

 Gear  Comments Off on Which Video Camera Would You Buy Today? Here’s a Comparison of 4K Systems from Canon, Sony, and Others
Aug 012017
 

Every time I’m on a set or grabbing coffee with another local filmmaker, we always end up talking gear for a bit, and inevitably the question comes up of “What camera would you buy if you had to buy right now, and why?” I decided to research things a bit and put together an article that explains what I’d buy if I absolutely had to right now, and the answer might surprise you.

First, let me just define a few parameters. I’m going to look at 4K-capable cameras that can capture internally, and cost less than $10,000. To further refine the list, fixed-lens cameras will not be listed, but don’t disregard them. They still serve a lot of event productions and run-and-gun shooters should really consider them a viable option when speed and versatility are more important than being able to change lenses. I’ll also being leaving DSLR-style cameras off the list, even though they are a popular choice. I wanted to keep the comparison as direct as possible.

Here’s a chart to get us started which should give us a quick glance at some major specs and price points. Below, I’ll hit on key points, note any special considerations, and finally end with my suggested picks for the kind of videographer or filmmaker you might be.

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Sony Introduces the S3CA – A Sony a7S II Without Recording Limit by; Sebastian Wober

 Cinematography  Comments Off on Sony Introduces the S3CA – A Sony a7S II Without Recording Limit by; Sebastian Wober
May 022017
 

Many were hoping to see an announcement of something like a “Sony a7S 3” camera at this year’s NAB. Instead, we saw a new version of the Sony a7S II called S3CA. While there is indeed an “S3” in its product name, this is rather a “special version” of the a7S II for certain applications. Here’s all about the new Sony S3CA.

Sony S3CA

The S3CA is an interesting camera – it features the same sensor and processing as the popular Sony a7S II, but doesn’t limit your recording to 30 minutes, meaning your card size is really the deciding factor on how long you can record for.

The Sony a7S II was introduced in 2015 and has made headlines as being one of the best cinema cameras on the market, especially because of its impressive lowlight capabilities (see my lowlight review here).

On top of its a7S II heritage, the S3CA has a slightly smaller, box-shaped and more durable body and it has no screen or buttons – it requires a USB connection with a PC or Mac as a control interface. For some applications this could be a very interesting solution. The S3CA could for example be used during a live production and be controlled from the mixer instead of a camera operator.

The camera on display was hooked up to a computer app, in which I noticed that the image lagged and stuttered. The app, however, is not intended for monitoring. Instead, the camera features an HDMI output up to 4K for monitoring and external recording.

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Panasonic 360 4K Video Camera – A Prototype No Longer by; Graham Sheldon

 Gear  Comments Off on Panasonic 360 4K Video Camera – A Prototype No Longer by; Graham Sheldon
May 022017
 

360 video is still very much the talk of NAB, and Panasonic is not one to be left behind. First announced late last year, the AW-360C10 – AKA the Panasonic 360 camera –  features four cameras shooting at 3840×1920 resolution and uses real-time active stitching. It’s aimed at the live event 360 world and we have all the details below: 

We first announced the Panasonic 360 prototype camera (Panasonic-360C10) and its base unit back in November of 2016 at Inter Bee, and now it seems the camera has made the jump from prototype into production. Four cameras mounted along the head of the unit shoot 4K video at up to 59.94fps in a 2:1 image format ratio, a.k.a equi-rectangular video.

Panasonic is hoping that their low latency system will find a home with sports, concerts, and other live, stadium-based events.

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Hasselblad H6D-100c Review – Shooting Medium-Format Video by; Christoph Tilley

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Hasselblad H6D-100c Review – Shooting Medium-Format Video by; Christoph Tilley
Apr 242017
 

In this guest review, Vienna-based filmmaker Christoph Tilley takes a close look at the Hasselblad H6D-100c – a 100MP, 4K Raw-capable medium format camera. Intrigued? Read on for his hands-on impressions.

Christoph Tilley reviews the Hasselblad H6D-100c

Shooting Medium-Format Video

Not too long ago DSLRs revolutionized the way we make films. These days, we are seeing the emergence of the first medium-format stills cameras capable of shooting video. What would it be like to shoot video on an such an extremely large sensor? 

Enter the Hasselblad H6D-100c, a 100 Megapixel Full-Frame Medium-Format Stills Camera. The resolution is absolutely incredible on this thing – each Raw image has a file size of 216,3 Megabytes. But why in particular is this interesting for us filmmakers? Well, this thing can also shoot 4K Raw video.

But what kind of results will you get when shooting video? And how does this large sensor compare to Super35 in the real world? To find out, we shot a typical interview scene on the RED Dragon with a 50mm lens wide open at f/1.4. Right alongside we had the Hasselblad H6D-100c with a 100mm lens at an f-stop of f/4.

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