Video review: Tascam DR-70D recorder offers professional audio capture on a budget

By Technical Editor Matt Allard:

DSLRs and small mirrorless cameras are great because of their compact size, lower costs and versatile lens choices. Unfortunately most of them lack professional audio controls and features. They usually suffer from sub-standard internal microphones and no XLR audio inputs. Most professional news and documentary shooters will add an external audio solution to capture audio using these cameras. These usually come in the shape of an external XLR box/pre-amp like the popular Juicedlink and Beachtek models, a manufacturers solution like Sony’s XLR-K2M, or an audio recorder that captures sound separately and is synchronised with the video in post production (sync sound). In the past you could also feed the output of your audio recorder directly to the camera via a PAD cable from companies like Pinknoise systems, but more recently makers have provided a dedicated output at the correct level on some of their recorders such as the Tascam DR-60D.

The Tascam DR-70D

The Tascam DR-70D

Tascam have just released their new DR-70D 4 channel compact audio recorder. Shorter and flatter than the older DR-60D the unit features two in built microphones, four XLR/TRS combo jacks and the ability to output audio via a 3.5mm mini jack to a camera. For owners of cameras such as the Canon 5D mkIII, Panasonic GH4, BMPCC and Sony a7S the DR-70D enables you to record quality audio externally and internally to your camera at the same time. This provided the best of both worlds – you can create a backup/failsafe version of the audio at all times.

It can provide phantom power (+24v and +48V) and choose between a line or mic source. The DR-70D offers a lot of versatility for users. At $299 it should meet the needs of budget conscious shooters and is an ergonomic improvement over their previous DR60 models. For more details check out the Tascam website.

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Posted on December 19th, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: Audio, Canon EOS 5D MkIII, Panasonic GH4, Sony a7S | Permalink | Comments (1)

Panasonic delay latest scheduled GH4 firmware release

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Panasonic GH4 - Photo by Chuck Fadely

The Panasonic GH4 – Photo by Chuck Fadely

According to their Japanese website Panasonic have postponed the release of their upcoming GH4 firmware update. It promises to add timecode and recording control to the HDMI output of the camera when used the Atomos Shogun recorder. They now say the firmware will be due some time in January 2015.

This from Panasonic:

Panasonic postponed the release of firmware update programs for the LUMIX Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) camera DMC-GH4 and the Interface Unit DMW-YAGH which were originally scheduled to be released in December of 2014 due to the need of further verification.

With the firmware for DMC-GH4, time code and recording control signal can be embedded to the HDMI output signal*. Now both FHD at 30p/25p native or at 60p/50p is selectable to output via HDMI while recording video in FHD at 30p/25p.

The Interface Unit DMW-YAGH will also be updated with the new firmware to support these functional upgrades of DMC-GH4. Plus, over 60i/50i (30PsF/25PsF) or 60p/50p is selectable for the output via SDI.

The new firmware programs are going to be released in January of 2015.

* These functions are available when DMC-GH4 or DMW-YAGH are connected with the products of ATOMOS Global Pty. Ltd. or the products complying with the extended specifications of ATOMOS Global Pty. Ltd..

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Panasonic GH4 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sony F5/55 Firmware Version 5.0 Now Available For Download

By Technical editor Matt Allard:

Sony today released their latest version 5.0 firmware for the F5 and F55 cameras. While a lot of this firmware release has to do with paid upgrades there are a couple of key features that will benefit all owners. Finally there is support for interval recording, and noise reduction for Cine EI mode. One of the biggest drawbacks of using Cine EI was not being able to use any sort of in camera noise reduction. Users have been asking for this feature for quite a while so it is good to see Sony implement it.

Support for the enabling of paid features such as ProRes and DNxHD internal recording and the CBKW-55FX F5 4K internal recording option are also part of the release. It also probably means the disabling of Paul Ream’s unauthorised ‘All file’ method of getting 4K running on the a F5 – if you are going to want to run 4K on the F5 using v5.0 firmware you are likely going to have to pay for it.

Even so I can see a lot of F5 users paying for the 4K XAVC internal recording option, but there may not be too many users rushing out to purchase ProRes or DNxHD internal recording as there are plenty of cheaper off-board options available. The lack of any sort of 4K ProRes or 4444 recording options at this stage is also a drawback.

The optional ENG Sled is now supported

The optional ENG Sled is now supported

This from Sony:

Major features supported in this release:

Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD® with the optional CBK-55PD
Interval Recording
Support for the optional ENG and Documentary shoulder mount dock CBK-55BK
4K upgrade for the F5 via the optional (for purchase) CBKW-55FX
Noise suppression in Cine EI mode

Supporting additional codecs, Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD® with CBK-55PD
PMW-F55/F5 can record and playback in ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes 422 on 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 50i, 59.94i and DNxHD220x, and DNxHD145 on 23.98p, 25p, 29.97p, 50i, 59.94i by installing the optional CBK-55PD (sold separately). NOTE: PMW-F55/F5 with CBK-55PD installed is not supported with the CA-4000 and BPU-4000, 4K Live Productions system.

Supporting the optional ENG and Documentary shoulder mount dock CBK-55BK
The PMW-F55/F5 is compatible with the optional CBK-55BK (sold separately). CBK-55BK is a specialized accessory docking unit with shoulder Pad and Interface for the PMW-F55/F5. This accessory can be attached easily and allows users to access key functions such as Shutter, Gain, White Balance, Rec Button and Assignable Buttons. In addition the CBK-55BK supports Wireless slot-in audio receiver and Audio control like standard Broadcast shoulder camcorders.
In addition to new functionality, v5 adds support for the optional new hardware accessories being introduced, including the Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD® encoder board, the new ENG, Documentary Shoulder mount dock, and the optional 4K upgrade for the F5.- All of which are detailed below.

Supporting the optional 4K Upgrade for PMW-F5 with CBKW-55FX
By installing the dedicated option CBKZ-55FX (sold separately), recording and playback of XAVC 4K and XAVC QFHD is available for the PMW-F5. In addition, simultaneous recording function with MPEG Proxy is available.

Interval Rec function with XAVC and RAW
Interval Rec function allows you to record frames specified at regular intervals. Interval Rec function is available with XAVC format and RAW recording with the AXS-R5.

HDCAM SR File, (SStP) SR-SQ 422 in 59.94i (PMW-F55 only)
PMW-F55 supports SStP SR-SQ 422 in 59.94i. Also simultaneous recording function with MPEG Proxy is available.

Memory A/B white balance in Custom mode
White balance Memory is expanded to Memory A and Memory B in Custom mode. The color temperature can be set independently.

Noise suppression is available in Cine EI mode
“Noise Suppression” setting in the Camera menu is available even in Cine EI mode. The default setting is OFF.

Added selectable functions for Assignable Button
“Color Bars,” “VF Focus Magnifier,” and “White Memory” (switching between Memory A/B) are added to “Assignable Button”

Direct Changing FPS (STEP) using Menu dial
During S&Q Motion, FPS can be changed by pushing and rotating the Menu dial. You can set 6 steps of Frame Rate in “Menu Dial Assign” in “Assignable Button” menu.

Bug fixes

When using assignable button of marker, incorrect message was displayed. This has been fixed.

After APR in HFR mode, in some cases Frame Rate was changed to 60FPS automatically. This has been fixed.

In some cases false color function with DVF-EL100 and DVF-L700 worked in S-Log3 incorrectly. This has been fixed. False color function is available only when S-Log2 is selected.

While simultaneous recording with RAW and MPEG50 in 50 and 59.94, recording start frame of MPEG50 was delayed. This has been fixed.

Double Speed VF setting was automatically turned off when HFR mode turns off. This has been fixed. Double Speed VF setting remains when changing HFR mode on/off.

Please note the following:

iOS setting for Wi-Fi Remote
While using Wi-Fi Remote with iOS devices and Safari, please turn off Private browse function.

All file Support
All files which are created with Firmware v5.0 are not compatible with an earlier firmware version.

Auto Reboot after ABB and APR on ProRes and DNxHD®
When ABB or APR is executed in ProRes and DNxHD mode, PMW-F55/F5 automatically reboots after displaying “Auto Black Balance OK” or “RPN Auto Detection OK ” and “Rebooting…..”. This sequence is normal. ABB or APR is correctly executed.

Assignable buttons setting does not remain
When you update to v5.0 from an earlier version of firmware, or load ALL File generated in an earlier version of firmware, the Assignable buttons setting does not remain. Please set each assignable buttons manually.

<< Version up procedure >>
Please refer to “Version Up Guide for PMW-F55 and F5”.

You can download the firmware here

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Posted on December 19th, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: 4K, Sony F5, Sony F55 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tilta’s new FS7 rigs and V-lock battery plate

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Tilta FS7 rig

The Tilta FS7 rig

Rig maker Tilta have sent us details of their new Sony FS7 setups which will go on sale very soon. These aim to transform the camera into a full cinema rigs and at first glance make the FS7 look quite a lot like a much more expensive F65.

The Tilta VCT compatible baseplate

The Tilta VCT compatible baseplate

The core of the FS7 rig is a VCT compatible baseplate. It looks similar to others now on the market, following the contours of the FS7’s original built-in shoulder pad but offering a larger, more comfortable surface. What is more unique about the Tilta is a front and top plate that wrap right around the front of the camera but still leaves the original Sony handgrip and controls in place. There is also a nice looking lens bracket that can secure a PL mount lens adapter.

The Tilta FS7 rig wraps around the original handgrip

The Tilta FS7 rig wraps around the original handgrip

The lens adapter support

The lens adapter support

Another part of the kit that may interest FS7 owners, even if they don’t buy the other parts, is Tilta’s new FS-T01 V-lock battery plate. This attaches to the rear of the camera in the same place that Sony’s own XDCA-FS7 v-lock extension pack would otherwise go. If you don’t want or need the additional ProRes recording, RAW SDI output and other connections, but still prefer a larger battery for longer run times and better balance then this looks like a great option.

The V-lock battery plate attaches to mounting points on the top of the camera

The V-lock battery plate attaches to mounting points on the top of the camera

I believe the balancing the camera on your shoulder is massively important for long days of factual shooting. If you are going to add lots of metal parts to your rig that make it very front heavy then you should be looking to move the centre of gravity forward – like Zacuto do with their VCT plate, or adding a lot of weight at the rear to keep the setup balance. If you choose the latter option then the Tilta battery plate could be very handy.

Keep a lookout at Tilta dealers or on the company’s website for more info and availability.

Below is the detail of kit options from Tilta:
KIT 1(ES-T15):
Sony FS7 quick release baseplate (BS-T10)(SONY VCT-U14 plate ) Front bracket (PL mount support adaptor included)
Top handle plate, 15mm*200mm rod*2

KIT 2(ES-T15-A):
Sony FS7 quick release baseplate (BS-T10)(SONY VCT-U14 plate )
Front bracket (PL mount support adaptor included)
Top handle plate, 15mm*200mm rod*2, 4*4 lightweight matte box, 15mm follow focus with hard stops.

KIT 3(ES-T15-B):
SONY FS7 quick release baseplate(BS-T10)(SONY VCT-U14 plate )
Front bracket (PL mount support adaptor included)
Top handle plate, 19mm baseplate&12’’dovetail plate (19mm*450mm rod*2 included) (TT-C06/07), 4*5.6 carbon fiber matte box(MB-T04), single sided cinema follow focus(FF-T05).

KIT 4 (ES-T15-C)
SONY FS7 quick release baseplate (BS-T10)(SONY VCT-U14 plate )
Front bracket (PL mount support adaptor included)
Top handle plate, 19mm baseplate&12’’dovetail plate (19mm*450mm rod*2 included)(TT-C06/07), 6*6 carbon fiber matte box(MB-T06), dual cinema follow focus(FF-T04).


Model No.: BS-T10

SONY FS7 quick release baseplate BS-T10(SONY VCT-U14 plate ),15mm*200mm rod*2 ,

Model No.:FS-T01
V-lock battery plate FS-T01 (can be attached to the rear of the camera
Weight: 200g

Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Camera support systems, Sony FS7 | Permalink | Comments (2)

New Sony FS7 firmware version 1.1 available for download – offers ‘improved sensitivity of the iris control’

By site editor Dan Chung:

FS7 owners may have a merry Christmas thanks to Sony.

FS7 owners may have a merry Christmas thanks to Sony.

As anticipated Sony today released their latest version 1.1 firmware for the FS7. Hopefully this will improve the slow iris response that many users have complained about when using native E-mount lenses and also Canon EF lenses when used with the latest Speedbooster Ultra and Smart adapter MKIV.

Another function that has confused users is which combinations of camera setting allow for LUTs to be applied to various outputs and which do not. This is apparently now simplified.

You can download the v1.1 firmware here.

This from Sony on their user forum:

Ver. 1.1 brings improved sensitivity of the iris control, simplified Video Signal Monitor and LUT selection. It also adds [S-Gamut/S-Log2 Gamma] color grading space to the Cine EI menu and associated LUT to the Video Out menu. Mode details in the attached documents.

Further builds will continue to add functionality and improve operability.

And this from the description of the update:

• Support for “S-log2 Gamma/S-Gamut” is added to the Cine IE Menu.
• The “sensitivity” of the Iris aperture setting using the “Iris dial” and the “assignable dial” is improved and optimized for various lenses or adapters.
• “Video Signal Monitor” display enabled condition.
1. The default value of “Output Format” on the Video Menu is changed. This will allow “Video Signal Monitor” display without changing the “Output Format” from the default setting.
2. Video Signal Monitor is displayed in the SDI and viewfinder while in “Edge Crop mode” (Except, when the “Rec Format” or the “RAW Output Format” is set to 4096×2160 or 2048×1080; in this case the VSM will only display on SDI, not on the viewfinder.
• “Zoom Ring Direction setting” will be retained after Power OFF

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Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Sony FS7 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Canon USA posts C100 mkII product overview videos with Jem Schofield

By site editor Dan Chung:

Canon USA and our good friend Jem Schofield have made some detailed overview videos of the new C100 mkII. In the first video Jem shows the external improvements. In particular he demonstrates how the new OLED display works and also the improved EVF borrowed from the C300 and 500. There have been a number of smaller changes that also improve usability over the original C100. Other accessories that Jem shows with the C100mkII are the new Canon GPS adapter and also the Atomos Star external recorder.

In the second video he talks about the internal features such as Dual Pixel CMOS AF and the face detect function. While the other differences to the original camera are minor it is still good to have Jem walk us through the options.

Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Canon C100 mkII | Permalink | Comments (1)

Varavon’s Wirecam gets ready for launch

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Varavon Wirecam

The Varavon Wirecam

We took a look at Varavon’s wirecam system at IBC in Amsterdam earlier this year. The fully featured cable cam system will finally be released around the 19th of this month. It combines the remote controlled Wirecam sled with the company’s Birdycam brushless gimbal to create fully stabilised aerial moves – gimbals from other companies can also be used. The Birdycam also serves as a remote head which can pan and tilt as the camera travels down the wire.

To show off what the system can do Varavon have released a short video. Interestingly it also shows the DJI Ronin being used instead of the Birdycam in some shots.


The MSRP is expected to be $8900USD. For more info and to order keep an eye on the Varavon website later this month.

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Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Brushless gimbals, Camera stabilsation systems, Camera support systems | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vimeo finally offers 4K uploads and downloads for Pro members

By technical editor Matt Allard:

Vimeo has finally rolled out the ability to upload and download 4K content – but only for its Pro members and people selling content though on demand. A Pro membership will set you back $200 a year. This still doesn’t provide a way for Vimeo users to stream content in 4K, which is extremely data intensive, but rather simply upload or download that content in 4K. It is an interesting move as You Tube has offered users the ability to publish their material in 4K for free for quite some time. We still very much live in a HD world but it would of been nice to see Vimeo at least offer this service to paying Plus members, and not only those willing to pay the top tier $200 a year for the privilege.

You will need a Vimeo Pro account to download or upload 4K.

You will need a Vimeo Pro account to download or upload 4K.

Jessica Casano-Antonellis, Director of Communications for Vimeo said “2015 is expected to be a breakout year for 4K content, and we want to support creators who are using Vimeo as a workflow platform to showcase and share their work in the most high-quality way”. Vimeo are yet to offer 4K streaming but surely this is only a matter of time. In 2014 we have already seen Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime offering access to 4K material.

Posted on December 17th, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: 4K | Permalink | Comments (0)

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