Sony PMW 100

It's a spiff unit - but a pretty small chip.


Might be a good replacement for the Panasonic AX-100 - level stuff.  Would like to go HD with all clients, but not for free!

One thing to pay attention to on these new cameras is that some are 3-chip and some are 1.  Traditionally that was how you could tell a pro camera from a consumer.  Like the EX1 is (3) 1/2" chips.  Stuff like the Sony FS100/700/F3, etc. are competing with large DSLRs, so they are 1 LARGE chip.  The PMW 100 is (1) slightly-larger-than ⅓” chip (1/2.9"), so I dunno how that will perform.  Certainly they're making great strides in that area.  And the onboard 50Mbps XDCAM recording capability is cool - wouldn't necessarily need an outboard recorder.  It'll be interesting to see some footage from it.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera & Resolve

You can download some footage from the Camera, and grade it with free Resolve


  • Blackmagic and John Brawley Release RAW Cinema Camera Files for Download

I looked at the stuff and downloaded one of the clips into (my free copy of) Resolve*. The file has a lot of latitude, which is good.  It sort of affirmed my initial feeling about the camera, though.  It is definitely a high-value unit considering all you get with it - BUT:

• it has a small sensor compared to most stuff these days - it has a cheaper look than some.  Though, that needs to be taken with a grain of salt given the results of the Shootout.  Depends what you do with it.
• the lens used in these shots costs $4k (plus matte box, plus, etc.)
• to really take advantage of much of the unit's capabilities, you would need MANY thousands of dollars worth of hardware and software - unless you already own it.  One of the big things with DSLR-video popularity is that still photographers with thousands invested in lenses, but who would never spend thousands on a video camera, could now be 'HD videographers' by upgrading their still camera body, which they would do anyway.

* If you want to find out for free how complex and how much of a potential pain in the ass REAL color grading is, download Resolve and set it up.  If you get that far, grade some stuff in it (if you import from FCP, etc. - make sure you have no effects on your clips and all the clips are in one video track).

It is a massively powerful program, exciting and awesome, no doubt about it.  But for most practical purposes, it's too much work (takes too much time, as did Color).  Also really works best with a bunch of high-end computer and controller hardware.


Sony FS100

This is some interesting footage.



Unfortunately, it reminds me somewhat of the first Zacuto Shootout, where they set up a really difficult-to-image scene so you could see where the cameras/codecs broke.  It doesn't tell you a whole lot more than that.  In this situation, they both look pretty bad - except that you can see that RAW has a lot more latitude than the other codecs (no surprise there).  

Based on this and other footage I've seen from the FS100, I would want to record to an external recorder.  I still haven't seen anything really great from it even though it has a big sensor.  But it seems like people are always posting torture tests or bad grades, and we're supposed to figure out what the cameras can do from that?  That was what was so interesting about the recent Shootout, where they let people who work with the various cameras every day do what is necessary to make it look good.  And they pretty much ALL looked good.  

So it seems to me the biggest factors when buying a camera now are:  What's it REALLY going to cost you to do the workflow the camera sets you up for, and does the camera have the functionality you need for working with it all day to do the type of shooting you do?

I would not want to give up all the standard, pro-camera type controls you get on a unit from one of the major manufacturers for the promise of potentially better images.  Functionality is a big deal.  As an example, a (former Oprah) guy that works for me on occasion, who does a lot of run-n-gun is bummed that all these cool cameras coming out are not standard broadcast-shoulder-mount style cameras.  He just can't see having to put together some sort of rig just to be able to use it on his shoulder - and then he probably couldn't one-hand it!

Most of the new cameras are intended for cinema-style shooting.  They are large-sensors to compete with DSLRs.  That's why it's nice to see stuff like the PMW-200.  Though it's not like the Sonys of the world have stopped making old-school cameras.  It's that the technology in the new cameras is not immediately showing up in a familiar form.


Canon C100

This thing is starting to get more love out there.



Pretty cool, but has its drawbacks.  Read the top best & worst reviews.  The worst one sums up the issues well.  Pretty cool though.  I just continue to have the feeling (hope?) that somebody is going to come out with a mashup of the FS700 and this thing, or something like I thought the new EX camera would be - a combo of the usability and functionality of the EX cameras, but with the big sensor and slo-mo of the FS700.  I'm guessing/hoping within a year...

Canon 1DC and Panasonic GH4 - They're Almost Video Cameras!

The thing that's killing me about this new crop of cameras is that we are getting to the point where a given DSLRs’ video performance is exceeding its still picture performance.


Yep - this is my new Pentaxasonic VHS DSLR. Both the rig and the footage from it have a nice “retro high end” look. It rests on the shoulder pretty well, and grabbing the far side makes for a stable platform. This weekend though, I think I’ll take the feet off the VCR and screw the butterfly handlebars from my Schwinn upside-down into the bottom. It’ll be retro-bitchin’. The drawback to this rig is that you do need a really long extension cord for powering the VCR. I have a team working on a car battery adaptor and tray for it that fits underneath – balances the rig out pretty well.

I thought I would get this product out there on the market before sub-$10k DSLRs really do turn into video cameras. Wouldn’t be surprised if there’s one or two at NAB 2014 next month. Of course, I’ve been expecting that for a while now.

I admit sometimes I can’t figure out why “the DSLR revolution” irks me so much. I guess I come from the olden times when cameras were cameras, and you knew what was still and what moved, and the twain did not meet.

Used to be that video-capable DSLRs were always very good still cameras, so you could forgive some of the video shortcomings - but now some reports and imagery from the 1DC and GH4 suggest they are somewhat underwhelming as still cameras at their given price points. The ironic thing is that they are still lacking major functionality features of video cameras. So still not quite fish or fowl.

I get the appeal of DSLRs - they can take big, fat, high-resolution, big pixel images with easily limited depth of field, yielding a filmic look. If you own lenses that fit on them, you’re half kitted out already. If you are a still photographer, you can move into videography with minimal investment.

Yet most have been hobbled by crap codecs - a bit like recording a very nice lens and sensor to VHS tape - as well as functionality limits which, if missing from a pro camcorder, would get you laughed out of the room (and no sales). You need to spend an average of one to two times the cost of most DSLRs on ancillary gear to make it
simulate a pro video camera’s functionality.

The GH4 is taking the step of offering some of that functionality in a $2k add-on box. So you’re at around $3,700 for something approaching a video camera. And the 1DC? $10k for the body alone. You can get some nice camcorders with a fully functional zoom lens for that.

Yet they continue to grow in popularity. I’ve noticed more and more recent online freelance job solicitations specifying the desire for DSLRs and DSLR experience. Do you want to place any bets on how many of those client-side folk have any idea why they are asking for it? (Bob in accounting has one.) And none of those same folks were specifying the
type of HD camera they wanted prior to the DSLR revolution.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter! Never really has. It’s not about the gear. It’s what you point it at. Not that we’re going to stop talking about the gear…