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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Transform Your DJI Drone in a Handheld Gimbal With This Accessory by PolarPro

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Transform Your DJI Drone in a Handheld Gimbal With This Accessory by PolarPro
Apr 122018
 

Everyone I know who shoots video dreams to own a gimbal if they don’t already. But did you know that if you have a drone, you actually already own a gimbal that you can use to shoot anything?

The role of the gimbal is to keep something horizontal no matter what. When flying a drone, it’s quite essential to maintain the camera stable and avoid any movement due to external elements or when flying it aggressively. However, a drone can also record videos and take pictures while on the ground. This means you can use it as a camera and take advantage of its gimbal to make super steady shots even if you don’t own a stabilizer for your bigger DSLR.

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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.

The CEO of Sigma Explains the Challenges of Curved Sensor Technology

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on The CEO of Sigma Explains the Challenges of Curved Sensor Technology
Mar 132018
 

The French website Mizuwari published a series of captivating interviews with the CEO of Sigma, Kazuto Yamaki. Among other things, the Japanese executive mentions the challenges of implementing curved sensor technology in digital cameras.

Simply put, camera lenses are round and project different rays of light on a flat sensor, which is not an ideal solution. This explains, for instance, the softness issue encountered on the corners of the image, especially when shooting wide open. In a perfect world, the shape of the sensor would match the light beam created by the lens. Several manufacturers, such as Sony, have been working for years to develop curved sensors where each pixel could be placed at the perfect distance in relation of the light beam. Easier said than done.

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Seven More of the Best Nikon Tricks

 Gear  Comments Off on Seven More of the Best Nikon Tricks
Mar 132018
 

Although it is popular to talk about mirrorless cameras these days, DSLR cameras are still alive, and with the help of some useful tricks, you can make the most of your DSLR. Especially if you own a Nikon camera, you might be surprised with these features that most photographers skip using.

Well-known nature photographer Steve Perry has published a video previously about Nikon tricks, and in this second video of the series, he shares seven new tricks about Nikon cameras, with in-depth explanations.

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The Cameras Used in the 2018 Oscar-Nominated Films

 Cinematography  Comments Off on The Cameras Used in the 2018 Oscar-Nominated Films
Mar 112018
 

Today we’ll take a look at the cameras used in the Oscar-nominated films in the Cinematography and Best Picture categories. The results may surprise you… or not!

 

One of the most interesting questions that may strike your curiosity when watching a movie – and especially one nominated for an Oscar – is “what camera was that shot on?” For us filmmakers, when it comes to choosing the right camera, these films can serve as a sort of reference, especially in a time when there are so many cinema cameras, sensors and ultra high-resolution goodies to choose from.

So, we had a look at the Tech Spec section of all of these movies’ IMDB page. Check out the list below to find out what cameras were used for this year’s Oscar-nominated films:

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Fujinon MKX – Unique X Series Features

 Gear  Comments Off on Fujinon MKX – Unique X Series Features
Mar 062018
 

The recently announced Fujinon MKX T2.9 cine lenses come with unique features for Fujifilm camera owners. We looked into them more closely …

The E-mount versions of these MK lenses have been a big hit with cinematographers. But this is about more than just a simple mount change. When pairing these new cine lenses with Fujifilm X Series cameras, such as the new X-H1, the electrical contacts on the lens pass data to the camera. This allows the the camera to correct lens distortion as well as colour and brightness shading.

Lens Data

The lens data passed to the camera includes iris (T-stop) data, as well as focus distance and zoom information. As well as the obvious benefit on seeing this information displayed on the cameras LCD monitor, it also apparently allows for improved white balancing. We will be reviewing these two new lenses soon, so it will be interesting to see how this innovative feature works.

The Fujinon MKX 18-55mm will retail for $3999. The Fujinon MKX 50-135mm will retail for $4299. As a recap, here are the main features of these two lenses:

Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 & Fujinon MKX 50-135mm T2.9

  • Use an optical construction comprising 22 glass elements in 17 groups, with six super ED lens elements and two ED lens elements (two super ED lens elements and two ED lens elements for the 50-135mm).
  • T2.9 aperture across the entire zoom range which facilitates the increasingly popular style of bokeh effect with shallow depth-of-field. This also eliminates the need to re-adjust lighting, contributing to shortening shooting time.
  • The MKX lens achieves advanced optical performance despite its compact and lightweight body by incorporating the benefits of short flange focal distance of X Mount into optical design to the maximum extent. This accommodates shooting with a limited number of people.

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ALEXA vs Varicam LT vs GH4 vs A7s – with William Wages, ASC – ON THE GO – Episode 83

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on ALEXA vs Varicam LT vs GH4 vs A7s – with William Wages, ASC – ON THE GO – Episode 83
Feb 042018
 

n this episode of cinema5D ON THE GO, we wrap up our conversation with William Wages, ASC regarding using Lumix cameras on high-end productions.

 

Continuing our discussion about how William has changed to currently preferring the Varicam LT and Lumix environment, he tells us about the blind test he carried out to convince decision makers that the GH series of Panasonic cameras was indeed worthy.

But is there really a place for a Micro Four-Thirds sensor in the world of high-end filmmaking? As William says, the kind of situations that would require deploying a GH camera are exactly those where it would be challenging to set up a follow focus system. For this reason, the more restricted depth of field that the Micro Four-Thirds sensor size offers would in fact prove to be an advantage.

We also discuss Panasonic’s latest addition to its range of filmmaking cameras: the Panasonic EVA-1. While it could prove to be a solid B-Cam option to the Varicam line, for William Wages the small size of the Lumix line is still a major plus over this new model. (Please note that this episode was recorded before Panasonic released the final specs of the EVA-1).

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Panavision Announces New Millennium DXL2 8K Camera with the RED Monstro 8K VV Sensor

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Panavision Announces New Millennium DXL2 8K Camera with the RED Monstro 8K VV Sensor
Feb 042018
 

The new Panavision Millenium DXL2 builds on the success of the original Millennium DXL. Both models operate in an ecosystem (or should I say marriage) between three top-class companies in the moving picture industry: Panavision, Light Iron and RED. However, this time the development of the camera has gone even further by incorporating Panavision with the RED MONSTRO 8K VV sensor, and Light Iron color2 science.

 

As stated by Michael Cioni, senior VP of Innovation at Panavision and Light Iron: “Panavision’s vast inventory of advanced large-format and anamorphic optics combined with RED’s MONSTRO imager expands what’s possible, allowing filmmakers to create radically inventive and powerfully cinematic images, customized for the needs of the project and the vision of creative teams.”

Watch the video below which demonstrates the DXL2 in action.

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Canon May Add Fingerprint ID to Its Cameras and Lenses

 Gear  Comments Off on Canon May Add Fingerprint ID to Its Cameras and Lenses
Jan 302018
 

Fingerprint ID is used on many smartphones these days for security and identification, but would you like to see the same feature on your camera gear? Canon has apparently developed a fingerprint ID system that can identify the photographer using the camera or lens.

Canon Rumors reports that a new Canon patent published this month in the US (US20180012061 A1) describes an “electronic apparatus having finger authenticating function.”

The patent and illustrations describe and show a camera and lens that have a fingerprint ID reader built into them.

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Canon Takes 1st Place in 2018 Japanese Camera Ranking

 Gear  Comments Off on Canon Takes 1st Place in 2018 Japanese Camera Ranking
Jan 232018
 

The annual Japan BCN rankings are in and Canon emerges as the winner of some major categories, including DSLRs. Canon also wins the 2nd place in the category “mirrorless” and thus points Sony to 3rd place.

What are the annual BCN rankings, you might ask. The winners of one of the many categories are being determined by multible factors, the Japanese company behind it, BCN  (Business Computer News), explains:

The “BCN AWARD” is an annual (January 1st – December 31st) sales comparison of BCN, which collects the current sales data of large electronics wholesalers nationwide, PC specialty stores and Internet shops. It is a system for rewarding a manufacturer’s cumulative numbers.

These awards can be seen as an indicator of the (Japanese) market situation regarding all kinds of electronic goods, including digital cameras and lenses which renders the outcome interesting for us.

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Sony Announces New E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 APS-C Lens ahead of CES 2018

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Sony Announces New E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 APS-C Lens ahead of CES 2018
Jan 072018
 

Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 for APS-C cameras has just been announced a few days ahead of CES in Las Vegas. It’s their 46th E-Mount lens. They also released a silver version of the a6300 camera.

The new Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS E-mount lens includes a functional wide to telephoto focal range of 18-135mm, as well as an aperture range of F3.5-5.6, making this lens versatile whether you are filming indoors or outdoors. The lens auto focus features a linear motor, for fast and quiet operation. This could make for impressive auto focus tracking performance for video, when paired with the Sony a6500 for example, which is already known for its great video auto focus.

The lens features Sony’s powerful OSS or ‘Optical SteadyShot’ image stabilization which will aid in achieving steady and crisp images while shooting hand held, or in lower light scenarios. For improved optical performance, the lens also includes two extra-low dispersion elements and one aspherical lens which will reduce chromatic aberration.

Weighing only 325g, the lens and camera combination is ideal for those that like a lightweight and compact setup, whether that is for traveling, street work, or on a hand held gimbal.

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KipperTie Revolva – RED Lens Mount With Built In ND Filter Wheel

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on KipperTie Revolva – RED Lens Mount With Built In ND Filter Wheel
Dec 102017
 

KipperTie has announced Revolva, a new mount for the DSMC2 RED cameras offering a PL or EF mount with built-in ND wheel. The wheel can be swapped out quickly to more ND or even a diffusion set.

Kippertie has been known for making filtration-related RED products for some time. The Revolva may just be their most significant yet.

With a name and colour wave akin to another favourite UK camera accessory company, the Revolva is suitably garish in appearance as with many RED-related products.

It’s a lens mount and ND wheel built in-one. Both PL and EF mounts will be available, electronically also for aperture changes and lens data (exactly the same as the RED EF mount).

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The Sigma 85mm 1.4: One Year Later

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on The Sigma 85mm 1.4: One Year Later
Nov 282017
 

About this time last year, the Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art series lens was released and I went ahead and decided to pull the trigger and invest in the new glass. I had heard great things about other entries in the art lineup and understandably Sigma’s new 85mm focal length was getting a solid amount of hype. For the past year, I have been shooting exclusively with Sigma’s 85mm. It’s been the only lens in my camera bag and the only lens I’ve used for a straight year. What follows are my impressions after a solid year of use; what I like about the lens and what I don’t like.

Let’s start out with some of the things that I love about this lens. After a year of continuous use, I can say that there is no question that the Sigma 85mm 1.4 is a great piece of glass. I am first and foremost a portrait photographer so the focal length itself is a no-brainer for me. As a short/medium telephoto lens, the 85mm gives me a gorgeous level of background compression, beautiful bokeh, and I don’t need to be overly concerned with facial distortion if I come in for a closeup shot. It’s been said before and will be said again that the 85mm focal length is pretty much perfect for portraits.

As I currently live in Colorado and have generally have access to gorgeous sunsets for most of the year I have developed a love for shooting backlit images. If you’ve ever shot backlit before, you know that depending on the angle and position of the sunlight, as well as your own preferences regarding lens flare, some lenses can be finicky about nailing focus. This is understandable as you’re basically asking your camera to nail focus while either direct or angled light is coming right into the lens. I can say with confidence that the Sigma 85mm handles backlighting scenarios like a boss. This is one of the first things that I noticed about this lens; even in less than ideal backlit situations, the lens is wildly successful at getting great focus right where you want it.

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Going Doc-Style with the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro on Robbie Williams’ Europe Tour

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Going Doc-Style with the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro on Robbie Williams’ Europe Tour
Nov 282017
 

Many filmmakers, including myself are hesitant about using the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro and URSA Mini 4.6K cameras in documentary environments, but James Tonkin of Hangman proves us wrong, taking the URSA cameras into the battlefield of Robbie William’s European Tour 2017.

James Tonik’s URSA Mini Pro with a Letus gimbal and remote focus rig

James Tonkin was recently tasked to document Williams’ 2017 European tour in its entirety. From rehearsals through to live shows, to the all-important backstage moments with Robbie Williams, Tonkin’s primary camera choices were the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro and URSA Mini 4.6K as well as the RED Weapon. For some run and gun filmmakers this might not be the first choice of camera systems when it comes to filming documentaries. In comparison to others, they have drawbacks in lowlight situations and handling. But from a quality standpoint the choice certainly makes sense, if one can make them work documentary style – and Tonkin did.

With a relationship spanning 16 years, Tonkin already had a unique understanding of when and where to capture the tours most potent moments. Furthermore preparation ahead of the tour alongside an understanding of the end goal was imperative for delivering a high-quality production that would meet the brief.

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Review: The Nikon D850’s Negative Digitizer Isn’t Ready for Prime Time

 Gear  Comments Off on Review: The Nikon D850’s Negative Digitizer Isn’t Ready for Prime Time
Oct 242017
 

 

A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to run the Nikon D850 through its paces as a scanner. The “Negative Digitizer” feature, which can automatically flip negatives to positive got a lot of buzz as the camera was being released, and I was eager to try it out.

I’ve been using digital cameras to scan my negatives since I was first able to put my hands on one. When done properly, it’s possible to digitize very large collections quickly and efficiently.

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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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Nikon D850 Best DSLR Ever, Gets First Full 100 Score at DxOMark

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Nikon D850 Best DSLR Ever, Gets First Full 100 Score at DxOMark
Oct 082017
 

The Nikon D850 was just awarded the first full 100 overall score ever given out to a DSLR by the testing lab DxOMark. The D850 now sits alone in the top spot on the camera leaderboard, with the full-frame mirrorless Sony a7R II sitting at #2 with a score of 98.

This is the first time a full-frame backside-illuminated sensor has appeared in a Nikon camera, and it’s a sensor that “breaks new ground for image quality,” DxOMark says. The D850 has the best color and dynamic range at base ISO among all commercially available cameras tested by the lab — it’s so good it rivals medium format sensors in some aspects.

“At base ISO, the Nikon D850 image quality for color is unrivaled for a DSLR, although the mirrorless Sony A7R II and full frame compact RX1R II comes pretty close,” DxOMark writes. “The D850’s color is on par with the best results we’ve seen on medium-format sensors, such as the Phase One IQ180 digital back, and fractionally ahead of the Phase One P65.”

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Panasonic GH5 Cage Review & Shootout – Zacuto vs. Movcam vs. Came-TV

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Panasonic GH5 Cage Review & Shootout – Zacuto vs. Movcam vs. Came-TV
Oct 022017
 

We put three camera cages for the Panasonic GH5 head to head for an in-depth look, review and comparison. Came-TV, Movcam, Zacuto… Let’s see which one comes out on top on this GH5 Cage Shootout!

To use the full potential of any camera, it is crucial to find the right cage on order to mount whatever third-party accessories you may need. That said, cages don’t just add several mounting threads and cold shoes, they also improve protection of the camera body, usually add better grips and handles, and protect the HDMI connector and other ports.

In the case of the Panasonic GH5, there is now wide variety of compatible cages, and the quality differences are quite significant. For this comparison, we received three popular cages for testing, but please note that this is not an exhaustive list of Panasonic GH5 cages.

Structure of Each Review:

  • Ease of assembly and disassembly.
  • How securely is the camera attached to the cage?
  • HDMI cable protector design.
  • Do we have access to the side outputs, slots and all the buttons?
  • Is it possible to use the Panasonic XLR adapter?
  • How good is the included Rod Support?
  • Quality of the Metabones Mount.
  • The top-handle design.
  • Overall ergonomics.
  • Conclusion.

At the very end of the article I’ll summarize the main pros and cons of each cage and announce our veredict. Please note that no cage is perfect and it’s up to each user to decide which cage better fits their needs and preferences.

Came-TV

Came-TV has the simpliest design out of all three tested cages. It does not feature HDMI support, but has many threads and offers a rod support piece. How well did it perform?

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