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Panasonic release new GH4 firmware: Multi-aspect video shooting becomes a reality for budget anamorphic shooting

By technical editor Matt Allard:

gh4 4k multi

Panasonic have released firmware version 2.0 for the GH4. This is a major release that adds multi-aspect video recording – a major boon for fans of anamorphic lens shooting who will gain from increased vertical resolution when compared to a regular 4K frame.

The GH4 in 4K photo mode (in Japanese menu)

The GH4 in 4K photo mode (in Japanese menu)

Called 4K photo mode the function records video in 4:3, 3:2 and 1:1 aspect ratios and is primarily designed to allow photographers to grab stills from the moving images – this should be great for Anamorphic shooters too, but are some major catches.

The different aspect ratios of the GH4 4K photo mode

The different aspect ratios of the GH4 4K photo mode

In this mode the camera cannot record the cinema standard 24P, only 30P and 25P on PAL cameras. Additionally recording is limited to the MP4 format and the HDMI output is disabled. Even so this should be an interesting way for anamorphic shooters to utilise more of the sensor with the GH4 when outputting in the commonly used aspect ratios. There is a good primer on anamorphic shooting on wikipedia for those who aren’t familiar with the concepts.

The aspect ratios are:

[4:3] (Size: 3328 x 2496)
[3:2] (Size: 3504 x 2336)
[16:9] (Size: 3840 x 2160)
[1:1] (Size: 2880x 2880)

In addition to the multi-aspect shooting the new firmware also adds 4K 23.98 fps MP4 recording at 100 Mbps.

Here is the complete set of new features:

1. [4K PHOTO] mode is added which records 4K video exclusively for capturing a frame to save as a photo.
◦ Settings can be adjusted as below when entering this mode.
- Rec Format : MP4
- Rec Quality : 4K 30p, 100Mbps (System Frequency 59.94Hz),
 4K 25p, 100Mbps (System Frequency 50.00Hz)
- Luminance Level:0-255
◦ In addition to 16:9 aspect, 4:3 / 3:2 / 1:1 can be selected.
◦ Exif information is embedded to the captured image from the 4K video.
◦ Marking function is available enables marker setting on the designated point while recording video and users can jump to the markers when playing back the video to capture the frame they want.
◦ Loop Recording function is added, with which the camera keeps on recording video while deleting the old footage automatically.
2. 4K 23.98p, 100Mbps mode is added in MP4 video recording.
3. The upper limit of the ISO sensitivity can be set in the menu of ISO sensitivity setting and emission amount of flash light can be adjusted in the menu of exposure compensation.
4. Focusing performance of 1-area AF in video recording is improved.
5. Tracking performance of tracking AF when used with the interchangeable lens H-FS14140 is improved.
6. Remote shooting via USB tethering is available by using PC software “USB Tether” supplied by Promote Systems.
*For more information on Promote Systems, please visit 
http://www.promotesystems.com/

There is more information from Panasonic available here.

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Posted on October 1st, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: 4K, Anamorphic, Panasonic GH4 | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBC 2014 video: TLS Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 cine converted lens

By technical editor Matt Allard:

TLS are a UK based lens service and conversion specialist. They are perhaps best known for their Morpheus conversion of the Nikon 80-200 f2.8 into a beautifully smooth focussing cine lens with PL mount.

At NAB this year they showed us prototype internals of a new conversion for the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 stills lens and at IBC in Amsterdam they showed us the finished lens. As with the Morpheus, the 24-70 has had the barrel’s direction of focus reversed to be the same as a cine lens (Nikon lenses traditionally focus the opposite direction). The lens elements have been completely rehoused in an all metal case and focus, zoom and iris are incredibly smooth. The end result feels like a more expensive cine zoom from one of the master lens makers.

Sadly this kind of workmanship doesn’t come cheap and the lens is expected to cost around £8500. It will be available in limited quantities starting end of Sept, beginning Oct 2014. For more info keep an eye on the TLS website or contact them directly.

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: IBC show, Lenses | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Infinity arm – a stronger Noga arm for cine cameras?

By site editor Dan Chung:

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The Infinity arm in use

The Infinity arm in use

Most shooters I know have some kind of Noga or similar rosette arm in their kit bag. Useful for rigging monitors, lights and other small accessories they can hold moderate weights quite easily.

But imagine an arm that is so strong that it can hold a Sony F55 in place. That is exactly what 27 Notch, a camera rental/production company based in Los Angeles, have set out to do. Their new Infinity arm is not only claimed to be super strong, it also has the unique feature of being able to switch out accessories mounted on its ball ends.

One proposed use of the arm is as a super sturdy GoPro mounts. To show just how strong it is the company made the video below:

Using the Infinity arm to mount a GoPro

Using the Infinity arm to mount a GoPro

27 Notch plan to launch the product on Kickstarter in the upcoming days. Their website is here.

This from 27 Notch:
“We have just developed a new cinema arm set to be released into the market early next year called the Infinity Arm, and we would love to have other camera enthusiasts and filmmakers learn about it.”

“We believe that our cinema arm is the strongest, most versatile product right now. It is the only quick-connecting, quick-adjusting rosette arm that aims to give you security when you need it while also allowing you to easily switch accessories with the click of a button. You can check out our website at infinityarm.com.”

“We want to produce the best kind of product possible, and a project like this requires time, effort, and unfortunately, money. We are planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign on October 10th, and will let everyone who signs up on our LaunchRock page know about it.”

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Posted on October 1st, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Camera support systems, Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (0)

Getting Cheesy – Ben Allan shoots a mini-doc with a pre-production Sony FS7

Guest post by Ben Allan ACS:

Shooting with the FS7 in the kitchen

Shooting with the FS7 in the kitchen

I recently got my hands a prototype Sony FS7 for a whole weekend of shooting. I had no restrictions from Sony was really able to put it through its paces.

With Director Clara Chong, my creative partner at The Film Bakery, we decided that we wanted to make a mini-doc film complete with interview and overlay footage that included both controlled shots and following the action. 

Sadly there were no samples of the new E-mount 28-135mm cine-style zoom in Australia, so instead Sony supplied the camera with a Zeiss 24-70 f4 E-mount SLR lens.  This is a lovely lens but suffers from the common limitations of autofocus stills lenses for shooting moving images – there is no iris and manual focussing is tricky.  Sony’s Nick Buchner also supplied a Metabones EF adaptor so that I could use any of my Canon SLR glass.

The FS7 came equipped with a Sony/Zeiss 24-70mm lens FE lens

The FS7 came equipped with a Sony/Zeiss 24-70mm lens FE lens

We coordinated with our friend Claudia McIntosh Bowman to shoot a little profile of her. She has the unusual occupation of cheesemonger.  With only 24 hours to prep, Clara researched ideas for shooting cheese and came up up with a visual style and structure.

I had only a couple of hours with the camera before we had to start shooting Claudia presenting a cheese-making workshop in the beautiful Rushcutters Restaurant. Luckily the FS7 menu system is very similar to the F5/55 system and as someone familiar with those cameras, I had virtually no learning curve.

To shoot in the restaurant I used a minimal handheld kit.  No tripod, no lights and no assistant.

The FS7 is obviously heavily influenced by Aaton’s famous ‘cat-on-the-shoulder’ camera design of the film era.  In the past I spent a lot of time shooting film with the XTR-Prod and the diminutive A-Minima and I do love their design and operation.  It is worth noting that the FS7 (certainly without the extension unit) has more in common with Aaton’s A-Minima than the LTR/XTR line that gave rise to the ‘cat-on-the-shoulder’ analogy. 

Even though the FS7 is about the same size and weight as the A-Minima it isn’t quite as comfortable, but it is nonetheless very effective at getting good handheld footage.  Once I got shooting in the restaurant, the low profile and manoeuvrability came into their own.

For the interview we decided to shoot in Claudia’s New York-style inner-city apartment. Low ceilings, small rooms, white walls and mixed colour temperatures make what to the eye is a charming space into huge challenge for a camera and cinematographer. 

The FS7 is at home on a tripod

The FS7 is at home on a tripod

The FS7 is just as much at home on a tripod as handheld. The interview was shot on sticks and the FS7 operation became ergonomically quite similar to the F5/55.  A design feature I love is the large, dedicated record trigger positioned near the front of the operator’s side of the camera – it is easily accessible either when shooting handheld or on tripod.  Panavision and Arri film cameras have used similar positioning for a long time and it works.

The other big test in the interview was a section of white wall in the background that we would inevitably want to darken with a grad in DaVinci Resolve. Sony’s XAVC codec was amazing at handling this situation because the clever encoding of the 10-bit format meant that we could darken beyond what we wanted without seeing any banding or blocking.

For the controlled shots of the different cheeses we wanted to test the higher frame rates. As with the F5/55, the maximum frame rate in the 50Hz world is limited to a lower rate than it is when using the camera with a 60Hz base. This means a maximum of 150 fps for PAL instead of 180 fps in NTSC mode.

That said 150 fps is a great speed for doing macro shots of food and we were pleased with the movement we were able to capture without having to switch to NTSC.  

In the high frame rate mode I noticed an increase in noise in darker colours. It’s not clear whether this was a prototype issue, or a design issue. It will be interesting to revisit this with the production model. If it is a design issue I wouldn’t call it a deal-breaker, but certainly something I would bear in mind when shooting.

Another trick I tried while doing the food close ups was shooting at minimum focus in 4K (UHD) mode and then cropping in post to get closer. I was very pleased with how well this worked, effectively halving the minimum focus distance of a lens if finishing in HD.

For post workflow Clara edited the XAVC footage natively in FCP X. Taking an XML out of FCP X and into Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve meant that we could also grade directly from the camera original files.  

This process was as seamless as I can imagine – grading the SLog-3 material in Resolve 11 was thoroughly enjoyable. I graded under a look up table (LUT) on the final node, so that I could use a different LUT for the interview than the rest of the footage. There was no logic to this decision, it just seemed to work so I ran with it.

With only what’s in the FS7 box, you can be up and shooting handheld in minutes. The level of comfort and stability is as good as any Scarlet, C300 or F5 with a well thought out rig (but without the expense).

The FS7 is an exciting camera that fills a current void in the market and shows how much Sony are listening to their users.

Sony had the express aim of creating a documentary style camera the FS7, but it will also have much broader applications. The picture quality, range of shooting options and flexibility of operation is astounding at the price point.

Posted on September 30th, 2014 by admin | Category: 4K, Sony FS7 | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBC 2014 video: Vocas makes first dedicated baseplate for the Sony FS7

By technical editor Matt Allard:

At IBC 2014 Vocas were showing a custom baseplate for the upcoming FS7 – within hours of the camera’s announcement. It transpires that Sony let Vocas see the camera ahead of time because they liked the company’s previous baseplate for the F5/55.

The Vocas FS7 baseplate with top plate, handle, PL adapter, follow focus and matte box

The Vocas FS7 baseplate with top plate, handle, PL adapter, follow focus and matte box

It is contoured to the base of the camera and has rod mounting at the front at the correct height for a Mattebox. There are also optional rod mounts for the rear and ARRI style rosettes on either side, for arms and handgrips. The baseplate fits straight onto a Sony VCT-14 broadcast tripod plate, but can also be fitted to a regular tripod mount by replacing a fixing on the underside of the baseplate.

The baseplate is due to ship in October 2014 and it can be ordered now for 650 Euro from the Vocas website.

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Posted on September 30th, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: IBC show, Sony FS7 | Permalink | Comments (0)

GoPro Hero4 goes 4K – claims to virtually eliminate rolling shutter

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Hero 3+ Black

The Hero 3+ Black

It came as absolutely no surprise today that the GoPro Hero range finally gets 4K recording and a feature upgrade. There are three new flavours: The $499 premium Hero4 Black edition that has 4K at up to 30fps, 2.7K at 50fps and 1080P HD at 120fps. The $399 Hero4 Silver edition has the same image quality but forgoes some of the frame rates and other features, it only shoots 2.7K30, 1080p60 and 720p120, but gains a touchscreen for convenience.

The entry level HERO

The entry level HERO

The last new model is simply named Hero is aimed at the everyman and shoots vanilla HD – at an astoundingly low price of $129 MSRP.

The much leaked announcement means the GoPro stay several steps ahead of competing action cameras from the likes of Sony and JVC.

Sadly there is still no full manual control of exposure functions on any of the cameras. Perhaps we will get these in a future firmware release.

In addition to the 4K recording the Hero4 Black comes improved low light performance and perhaps more importantly a claim from GoPro that they are ‘virtually eliminating rolling shutter in most scenarios’. How they do this is unclear at the moment (edit – I am told that this is due to being able to shoot at faster frame rates and that at regular frame rates it is similar to the Hero3+).

Here is the full release from GoPro:

GoPro Introduces HERO4 – The Most Powerful GoPro Lineup, Ever

HERO4 Black: 2x the Performance of the Previous Black Edition GoPro, now featuring 4K30, 2.7K50 and Ultra High Speed 1080p120 Frames per Second Video Capture
 
HERO4 Silver: Professional Quality Capture with Built-in Touch Display Convenience

SAN MATEO, CALIF. (September 29, 2014) – GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO), enabler of some of today’s most immersive and engaging content, today unveiled HERO4, the highest performance line of capture devices the company has ever made.  HERO4 is available in two editions, HERO4 Black at MSRP $499 and HERO4 Silver at MSRP $399.  GoPro’s Emmy® Award-winning imaging technology combines with enhanced ease-of-use and powerful new features such as 4K30, 2.7K50 and 1080p120 video capture (Black) and built-in touch display convenience (Silver), to make it easier than ever for consumers to self capture and share stunning, professional quality content of their favorite experiences.

HERO4 Black delivers 2x the performance of its best-selling predecessor and now captures cinema-quality 4K video at 30 frames per second (fps), 2.7K video at 50fps and 1080p video at a blistering 120fps, virtually eliminating rolling shutter in most scenarios while allowing for time-bending slow motion effects. HERO4 Black also features an entirely redesigned audio system that captures high fidelity sound with 2x the dynamic range of previous models. Additional enhancements include improved image quality, low light performance, highlight moment tagging and an improved user interface that allows for easier discoverability and access to key features and controls. The HERO4 Black is simply the highest performance GoPro yet.

HERO4 Silver delivers the same professional image quality as HERO4 Black less some of the higher performance video capture modes including 4K30, 2.7K50 and 1080p120. HERO4 Silver includes a brilliant built-in touch display for those who value convenience and ease-of-use over the no-holds-barred performance of the HERO4 Black.

The new HERO4 line will be available October 5 on GoPro.com and at select retailers worldwide. 

“For the past twelve years, our passion has been to make it easy for people to self-capture jaw dropping, professional quality footage of themselves engaged in their favorite activities,” said GoPro Founder and CEO, Nicholas Woodman.  “That passion led us to embark on our most ambitious design and engineering effort ever, and the result is nothing short of the ultimate GoPro—the HERO4 Black.  We can’t wait to see what the world captures with it.” 

HERO4 Black – 2x the performance, yet again.
The flagship HERO4 Black builds upon GoPro’s Emmy® Award-winning technology to deliver the next level of GoPro image quality, versatility and performance:

• Incredible ultra high definition 4K video at 30fps allows for life-like video capture as well the ability to extract 8.3 megapixel video stills to use as photos
• Faster* high resolution frame rates of 2.7K at 50fps and 1080p at 120fps
• 12MP magazine cover-quality photos at burst speeds of 30 photos per second
• Updated user-interface with improved discoverability and access to key camera controls 
• 50% faster Wi-Fi* combined with Bluetooth® delivers enhanced GoPro App performance and improved power management
• MSRP $499 
• For more information visit the HERO4 Black product page 

“A common pain-point is deciding between capturing video or photos of an experience,” remarked Woodman. “Each frame of4K30 video is similar to an 8.3 megapixel photo. The result is that users can simultaneously capture eye-popping 4K30 video and impressive 8.3 megapixel photo-like video stills at 30 frames per second when using HERO4 Black. It’s one of the many wild capabilities of this impressive new device.”

HERO4 Silver – Professional quality capture. Touch-display convenience. 
The HERO4 Silver sets a new precedent for convenience and ease-of-use with GoPro’s first built-in touch display:
 
• Brilliant built-in touch display allows for easy camera control, shot framing and playback 
• Professional quality video capture at 2.7K30, 1080p60 and 720p120
• 12MP magazine cover-quality photos at burst speeds of 30 photos per second
• 50% faster Wi-Fi* combined with Bluetooth® delivers enhanced GoPro App performance and improved power management
• MSRP $399
• For more information visit the HERO4 Silver product page 

The most advanced GoPro cameras yet. 
HERO4 Black and Silver share powerful new features that expand what’s possible with a GoPro.

Protune™, now for photo + video. 
• For those who prefer to take manual control of their GoPro to maximize versatility and performance, we’ve expanded our professionally minded Protune mode to include Color, Sharpness, ISO Limit, and Exposure controls for both photo and video capture.

New settings for after dark. 
• Whether you’re shooting the Milky Way or a campfire hangout, Night Photo and Night Lapse allow you to capture stunning images of ultra low-light scenes with customizable exposure settings of up to 30 seconds.

Mark your best moments. 
• HiLight Tag enables you to mark key moments with the push of an on-camera button while recording, making it easy to find, playback and share your favorite clips in GoPro Studio or with the GoPro App.  You can also HiLight Tag using the mobile GoPro App or the new Smart Remote accessory. 

QuikCapture speed and convenience. 
• QuikCapture makes it easy to power on and record with the press of a single button. When enabled, a single press starts video capture, while a press and hold engages Time Lapse photo capture.

High-performance audio. 
• A totally re-designed internal audio system combines with a state of the art microphone to capture clean, high fidelity sound with 2x the dynamic range of previous models.

Introducing the HERO – The perfect entry-level GoPro.
GoPro is also proud to debut HERO, the perfect entry-level GoPro.  Designed with simplicity in mind and built directly into a rugged, waterproof housing, HERO captures high-quality 1080p video at 30fps and 720p video at 60fps. HERO captures the same immersive, eye-popping footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world—all in a simplified package that’s accessible to everyone with an MSRP of $129. For more information visit the HERO product page on GoPro.com.

New Mounts and Accessories that Help You Capture and Share Your World
October 5th also marks the availability of these new GoPro mounts and accessories: 

• Smart Remote – Control your GoPro from up to 600’ (183m) away with the wearable and waterproof remote. Conveniently mark key moments as they happen with the Smart Remote’s HiLight Tag button when paired with a HERO4 Black or HERO4 Silver. 

• The Handler – A compact floating handgrip. Lightweight, ergonomic and durable, The Handler is perfect for handheld shooting during any activity. 

• New BacPac accessories – A new and improved Battery BacPac provides almost twice the battery power over the camera’s internal battery alone. And a new LCD BacPac provides improved touch and swipe performance when used with HERO4 Black.

GoPro App and GoPro Studio
GoPro announced several updates to its popular GoPro Studio desktop editing software and mobile GoPro App.  

GoPro Studio makes it easy to import GoPro footage from your camera to your computer to create professional-quality videos. GoPro Studio features GoPro Edit Templates, template versions of some of GoPro’s most popular videos.  All you have to do is replace the original GoPro video clips with your own favorite clips and the editing style that has made GoPro famous becomes your own. GoPro Studio now supports the HERO4’s HiLight Tag feature, making it easy for GoPro Studio to identify your videos’ best moments thereby allowing for faster and more convenient editing. Also new to GoPro Studio is Flux™, a powerful ultra slow motion and speed ramping tool that enables the dramatic time-shifting effects GoPro has become so well known for. Want to highlight a particularly awesome moment in one of your edits? Flux that thing and share it with the world.

The GoPro App for mobile not only gives you instant access to the GoPro Channel and all of the incredible content that has made it the number one brand channel on YouTube, it also gives you full control of HERO4 Black and Silver and allows for quick and easy changes to any mode or setting.  Expanded GoPro App support for HERO4 also includes support for HiLight Tagging while recording, as well as searching for tags during playback.  As always, the GoPro App also allows for shot preview, playback and sharing of your favorite photos and videos via email, text, Facebook, Twitter and more. 

GoPro is committed to inventing innovative tools that make it easy for people to self-capture and share engaging and immersive experiences with others.

Learn more about HERO4 line and the entire GoPro ecosystem of software and accessories at GoPro.com, or visit your local retailer today.

Posted on September 29th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: 4K, GoPro | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBC 2014 video: Akurat B1120mix3 LED light – a surprisingly compact yet bright unit from Poland

By contributor Clinton Harn:

At IBC 2014 Polish company Akurat were showing their new bi-colour B1120mix3 LED light. These are slimline lights with metal casings that can be used on stands, or mounted on a camera top.

For the size they are extremely bright and the manufacturer claims high colour accuracy (RA value=95). Power is either via 6-20V DC or a battery plate and max power draw is 18W according to the specs.

Since the show they have announced a new light which is similar, but said to have even better performance. Akurat’s website claims the LL2120hc3 V-WHITE has probably the highest light quality of any on camera LED (a claimed CRI Ra = 98 R9 – 96+ for the technically minded). This is thanks to new higher accuracy emitters that are just coming onto the market. Just how good it is we don’t know – but it is interesting to see these developments unfold.

The new Akurat LL2120hc3

The new Akurat LL2120hc3

We don’t have exact prices for the Akurats but they range between just over 100 Euro to around 300 Euro. Currently they are available through selected European dealers.

For more info check out the Akurat website.

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Posted on September 29th, 2014 by Clinton Harn | Category: IBC show, LED lights | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBC 2014 video: Rycote Cyclone windshield – the blimp reimagined

By newsshooter contributor Clinton Harn:

The Rycote Cyclone

The Rycote Cyclone

Rycote were at the IBC show in Amsterdam showing their new Cyclone windshield. It is a completely new take on the original ‘dead cat’ furry blimp designs that are commonly used throughout the industry.

Resembling the cockpit design of the Millennium Falcon or a B29 Superfortress, the Cyclone uses a non-symmetrical housing that is super lightweight and snaps apart quickly to allow access to the microphone. As well as changing the shape and structure of the Cyclone, Rycote have used a high tech material called 3D-Tex as the outer fabric. It is great for reducing wind noise and yet is acoustically very transparent. You can still add an optional furry windjammer for additional protection against wind noise.

The Lyre suspension system is used to hold the mic

The Lyre suspension system is used to hold the mic

The Cyclone uses Rycote’s now famous Lyre suspension system to hold the mic, as well as a new Floating-Basket Suspension to reduce noise and vibration by forming an isolation barrier between the windshield basket and suspension. This “multi-suspension” system is a real improvement over previous designs.

Our team liked the design of the Cyclone so much that they voted it best new audio product at IBC 2014.

Large_089101_Cyclone_Large_Style1_03

You can find out more about the Cyclone on the Rycote website.

Posted on September 29th, 2014 by Clinton Harn | Category: Audio, IBC show | Permalink | Comments (2)

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