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CML-UWE Camera Evaluation 2015: the Sony F65, RED Dragon, Arri Amira, Canon C500 and Panasonic Varicam 35 go head to head

Guest post by Geoff Boyle:

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You can view the test here.

Background to the tests
The origin of these tests goes back a long way. I started testing film stocks in 1975 to see what their dynamic range was and what their real Exposure Index (EI) was, as manufacturers don’t always use measuring conditions that reflect a real-world shooting situation.

After I established CML in 1996 I started to publish my findings with films and also list GRR’s (Geoff’s Recommended Ratings) for various stocks. These ratings came from my measurements of the stocks in the real world.

Initially we had a fairly controlled environment: the lab processed in a predictable way and they had standard printer lights. These would have been 25-25-25 when the batch was new but would change over time. As long as I knew what the Kodak reference strips printed at a particular lab looked like I would know if my exposure was correct. Also if I preferred the look of a stock slightly overexposed and printed down I could specify that they printed at say four points darker than normal. This gave a very consistent, predictable result.

When we went to scanning from the neg I could still get the lab to check the neg density and I could also ask for the telecine or scanner to be set up using TAF (Telecine Alignment Film) which was a reference neg from Kodak. If everything was set up so that TAF looked right then if my neg was exposed properly it would look right.

Once we went to digital origination and digital distribution all reference points vanished. Anyone could alter my pictures at any stage and it was very hard to establish just what it was that I’d shot.

I tried using LUTs to control what happened to my images but this was totally reliant on people in the post process actually using them. Often they wouldn’t.

ACES: a reference system for digital
ACES is a control system that finally brings some order into the madness of digital image creation.

There is a common ACES colour space, a common RRT ( Reference Rendering Transform ) that converts the scene-referred colorimetry to display-referred, and resembles traditional film image rendering with an S-shaped curve. It has a larger gamut and dynamic range available to allow for rendering to any output device (even ones not yet in existence).

The RRT is not something to think or worry about: it’s just there!

What matters to us is the IDT (that transforms the captured image into ACES colour space) and the ODT (that transforms the graded image into your desired viewing colour space). It frees you to grade in say P3 but output in rec709 and get a predictable result.

So, finally a fixed reference system. If I shoot digitally and use the relevant IDT and ODT then my result should be totally predictable.

My initial personal tests using old rushes were encouraging so I decided to run the next CML-CMIR test series totally in ACES.

Optimistic manufacturers, a unique chart, unexpected results
The results were interesting: they revealed that some manufacturers were being a little optimistic in their EI ratings. There’s actually no standard way of measuring this so who can fault a manufacturer for using a system that makes their camera look good?

However, I’m not interested in what looks good on paper, I want to know how to expose the camera to produce the best pictures I can get from it.

We had serious issues with one of the cameras: the Varicam didn’t produce the results that I expected and it has taken four months and the assistance of Nick Shaw to establish what the problem was. We now know that Panasonic and Resolve don’t mix properly: it looks like the rushes are in video range when they are in fact in extended range. A manual adjustment in Resolve fixes this.

We also established that some cameras have not only very different colour responses in tungsten and daylight but that they also have very different EI’s.

The chart that DSC labs made to my specification that was used for these tests does not conform to any accepted colour space, neither does the real world, a chart that limits itself to what can be reproduced in rec709 or P3 doesn’t reflect the real environment. I wanted a chart that had extremely high saturations because I was fairly sure that all single sensor cameras would have problems with them.

The results are all at http://www.cinematography.net/CML-UWE-tech.html and my comments on the Varicam will be updated to reflect the new information we have. Essentially the highlight response remains as we first published but the shadow response is now at least as good as an Alexa.
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Results:

Sony F65 Tungsten
+3.5 Red is not clipping at +4 but Blue and Green are.
Unity + 0.5 this would indicate an EI of 500 to 640
-1 noise base
DR is therefore 11.5

Alexa Tungsten
+4 although there is no clipping compression does come in from +3
Unity 0 so an EI of 800
-3 noise base
DR is therefore 14

Alexa Daylight
+4 with the same highlight compression as tungsten
Unity 1 so EI of 1600, I have double checked this as I always use 400
which gives best SNR
-4
DR is therefore 15

Varicam PL Tungsten
+3.5 actually a little above this but not +4 say +3.66
Unity 0
-2 Noise base
DR is 12.5

Varicam PL Daylight
+3.5 with the same comment as tungsten
Unity 0.5 so EO of 1000 to 1200
-2 noise base with Varicam IDT
-3.5 noise base with Slog3 IDT
DR is 12.5 with Panasonic IDT or 14 with Sony IDT(!)

Dragon LLD Tungsten
+4 noting a curve change above +3
Unity +1 so an EO of 400
0 noise base, very noisy as measured but visually less so
DR measured at 11

Dragon LLD Daylight
+3.5
Unity +.5 so EI 500 to 640
-2
DR therefore 12.5

Dragon Skin Tungsten
+3
Unity +1.3 so an EI of 160
0
DR therefore 10

Dragon Skin Daylight
+3
Unity +.5 so EI of 250 to 320
-2.5
DR is therefore 12.5

Canon C500 Tungsten
+2
Unity 0 so EI 800
-2
DR is therefore 11

Canon C500 Daylight
+2
Unity 0.5 so EI of 1000 to 1200 this matches my shooting experience of 1200
-3 maybe -3.5 it’s very close
DR therefore 12

Details of the test:
The tests were run by CML with the assistance of CMIR in January 2015 to try and establish how the most commonly used higher-end cameras responded to ACES.

All cameras were set to the manufacturers recommended EI.

Readings were taken with a Minolta 6, a Pentax Digital Spot and a recent Sekonic lightmeter.

Lighting was with Trucolor XH (2 * HS) with 3200 and 5600 panels, backlight was from matching Matchstix.

The levels for the Dragon skin tungsten tests should all be read bearing in mind a one stop offset, so plus one is really zero and plus four is really plus three. This was due to a problem getting enough level for 400 EI Tungsten. The daylight tests are as stated.

CT readings were taken with a Minolta CT3 and a Sekonic, the Minolta gave 3200 and no M/G shift and 5600 again with no M/G shift, the Sekonic agreed with 3200 but read 5900 for the 5600 light.

The scene brightness range is seven stops so taking that seven and adding the plus and minus values will give us the usable filming range. Please note that this is very different to the values produced by a Xyla chart which as far as I’m concerned is only good for manufacturers’ PR blurbs and has no use in real filming situations.

All material was processed in Resolve 11.3 with the appropriate IDT, adjustments were made so that the middle grey patch read 512, contrast was reduced to 0.9 overall to contain extreme peaks of colour.

White clip levels were easy to find as were the ‘unity’ levels i.e. the levels where no gain alteration was required, this gives us the ‘real’ EI of the camera.

Shadows were a different matter, with most it was possible to discern the small chip within the black on the chart down to levels that gave so much noise they were unusable.

I therefore established a point that showed clearly using the vector-scope in magnify mode and when a camera reached that noise point that was the level I have published. The pictures may well be usable below this point but there has to be some kind of level playing field. In fact what happens after this point varies hugely from camera to camera and is totally down to personal preference.

The Varicam had serious issues with shadows blocking up and just for the hell of it I tried using the Sony Slog3 IDT at levels below the point that the Varicam IDT had failed. This gave very surprising results.

I have listed the cameras in order of cost.

The Sony F65 is Tungsten only because my DIT managed to destroy the daylight rushes, he was distracted playing with the pictures from all the cameras. Maybe this is a clear argument for an unthinking data monkey who just copies and checks that it has copied…

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Posted on June 25th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Arri Alexa, Arri Amira, Canon C500, RAW shooting, Red, Sony F65, Varicam 35 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Litepanels Luma vs Cineo Matchbox vs Lumos Trip Pro – The on camera lighting battle

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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There are a lot of on-camera lights available and they vary greatly in both price and performance. I wanted to take three of the on-camera lights I own to see how they stacked up against each other. The three lights are the Litepanels Luma, the Lumos Trip Pro and the Cineo Matchbox. All three are priced around the same level so I thought it would be interesting to see which one comes out on top. Please bear in mind that this isn’t a truly scientific test, though I did my best to provide a consistent and controlled test environment.

The testing environment for colour accuracy at 5600k and 3200k

The testing environment for colour accuracy at 5600k and 3200k

I decided to look at seven key categories:

1. Build quality
2. Colour accuracy
3. Output and control
4. Power options
5. Included accessories
6. Versatility
7. Visual aesthetic

Before we get into the results let’s meet the competitors:

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Lumos Trip Pro
The Lumos Trip Pro is an on-camera LED light with a 100W tungsten equivalent output. It features variable colour temperature control from 3200K to 5600K and a dial for flicker-free dimming from 0% to 100% output. For wide coverage, the Trip Pro has a 85° beam spread, which can be narrowed to 55° using the included snap-on honeycomb grid filter. It is powered using optional Canon LP-E6 type batteries, or brick-style batteries using an included P-Tap power cable. The light can be mounted to an articulating arm or monitor support via the 1/4″-20 threaded hole at the bottom, or directly to your camera’s hot-shoe using an included shoe mount adapter. It retails for $367.08 US.

Specifications:
· High CRI 97 Ra at 3200K
· Equivalent of 100W tungsten
· Adjustable Color Temperature 3200K ~5600K
· Stable dimming (0% ~ 100%) Flicker Free
· 6 ~ 20V DC
· Use Canon LP-E6 Battery
· D-tap support (Anton bauer or V-mount battery)
· Honeycomb & carrying bag included

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Cineo Matchbox:
The Basic Matchbox kit from Cineo features remote phosphor technology for changing colour temperature by swapping out panels for higher output and greater colour accuracy. It has CRI ratings of 98 at 3200K and 94 at 5600K as well as TLCI ratings of 99 at 3200K and 97 at 5600K. Output at 3′ is rated at 315 lux / 30.5 fc at 3200K and 362 lux / 37.5 fc at 5600K. Additionally, it has a wide beam angle of 160° along with both local and DMX dimming options from 0-100%.

The panel is durable with a weather-resistant construction and the units are made in the USA. The 3.25 x 5.25 x 1.5″ panel also emits zero UV light and has a 1/4″-20 thread on the base for mounting in a variety of situations. An AC adapter is included, along with a 6′ extension cable and both 3200K and 5600K phosphor panels. Optional battery kits can convert it for ultra-portable operation. The Cineo retails for $462.83 US.

Specifications:
Technology Remote Phosphor Technology (RPT)
CRI 3200K: 98 (Extended: 96)
5600K: 94 (Extended: 91)
2700K: 98 (Extended: 97)
4300K: 97 (Extended: 96)
TLCI 3200K: 99
5600K: 97
2700K: 99
4300K: 98
Color Temperature 3200K
5600K
2700K (optional panel)
4300K (optional panel)
Output 1000 lumens
Beam Angle 160°
LED Lifetime 35,000 hours, L70 rated
Dimming 0-100%
DMX Yes, dimming
Operating Voltage 6-26 VDC
Power Requirements 120-240 VAC for adapter
Power Consumption 13 W
Cable 6′ (1.8 m) power extension cable
Mount 1/4″-20 female thread
Operating Conditions -4 to 104°F (-20 to 40°C)
Max Temperature Rise: 36°F (20°C)
Dimensions 3.25 x 5.25 x 1.50″ (82.6 x 133.4 x 38.0 mm)
Weight 15 oz (425 g)

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Litepanels Luma:
The Litepanels Luma On-Camera LED Light is a high illumination light that when equipped with an included half-white diffuser produces a soft daylight colour. It’s bright enough to effectively erase deep shadows outdoors as well being useful as a fill light indoors. Luma delivers in a 50° beam spread, flicker-free at any frame rate and at any shutter angle. A brightness dimmer is 100-0% adjustable and causes no colour shifts during dimming. The Luma can be powered by six AA batteries, AC power supply, or by DC power from a camera (via a D-tap cable).

Included are a ball head for mounting, three CTO gels, and a custom carrying bag. The ball head features a cold shoe on one end and a 1/4″-20 screw on the other — the cold shoe for mounting to camcorders, DSLRs or stands, and the 1/4″-20 screw for attaching to the hole on the underside of the Luma. The three-piece gel set consists of a 1/4 CTO, a full CTO and a 1/2 white diffuser. It retails for $396 US.

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The results from each category are listed below. These findings are my personal assessment from using all three of the lights over a long period of time. I would never recommend anyone to base a buying decision on just one opinion and review.

RESULTS:

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1. Build quality:
Both the Litepanels Luma and Lumos Trip Pro are built from hard plastic and feel light in the hand. I’ve dropped both of them onto hard surfaces from above 1 meter (not entirely deliberately) and they both continued to work without any problems. The switches and protective panel on the Litepanels Luma feel slightly better made than those on the Lumos. I have had problems trying to power the Luma off rechargeable AA batteries as sometimes it decides to work and sometimes it doesn’t. The Cineo Matchbox build quality far exceeds that of both the Lumos and Litepanels. It’s made out of anodized aluminum and the recessed power and dimmer switch is a nice touch. The Matchbox is a lot heavier than the other two so that also needs to be taken into consideration.

WINNER: Cineo Matchbox

The above test was shot on the Sony F35 in 12bit 444 in S-Log S-Gammut and recorded as uncompressed 444 DPX files on the Odyssey 7Q+. The lens used was a Zeiss CP2 35mm T1.5. The camera white balance was pre set to 5600K and 3200K depending on what I had each of the 3 lights set at. The aperture on the camera was set at a constant T4 so that white was between 60-70% for all three lights. The output of the light was adjusted so that all three provided the same illumination on the test scene.

2. Colour accuracy:
Both the Cineo Matchbox and Lumos Trip Pro provided very accurate colour rendition and were able to keep white looking white at 5600k. The Litepanels Luma did a fairly good job at 5600k but has slightly more in the red and green channels than the blue. It should be noted though that the Luma is the only light out of the three that is 5600k only. Litepanels supplies a 1/4 and a full CTO in the kit and I used the full CTO for my tests. At 3200K, achieved by use of the filter, the Luma struggled to reproduce colours accurately. There was a big shift in the red channel and in the image you could definitely see it. The Lumos being a bi-colour LED light performed pretty well at 3200k, with a very marginal shift in the blue channel. The Cineo Matchbox comes with a 3200k panel and provided a very nice result when using the 3200k preset in the camera. Again it produced a very small increase in the blue channel but to my eye just edged out the Lumos.

WINNER: Cineo Matchbox (Lumos Trip Pro a very close second)

3. Output and control:
All three lights provide a decent output considering their size. The Cineo has a 160 degree beam angle and a claimed output of 1000 lumens. The Lumos has a 85 degree spread and a claimed output of a 100W tungsten equivalent. The Litepanels delivers a very wide 50 degree beam angle and is comparable to a 50W-HMI. In my tests I found the Cineo to have the least amount of output of the three, while the Lumos and Litepanels were very close. The Lumos comes with a diffusion filter and a honeycomb filter which gives you a lot of extra control when using the light.

WINNER: Lumos Trip Pro

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4. Power options:
The Cineo Matchbox comes with an AC Adapter, 6′ Feeder Cable and a power cord, but unfortunately no battery option. The optional Cineo Matchbox Power Kit is available for an extra $154.28 US and includes a Sony NPF-Series or Canon LP-E6 Battery Adapter and D-Tap to barrel connector power cord. So if you do want to run the Matchbox off a battery you’re then going to have to spend even more to buy a battery. It really puzzles me how manufacturers can sell a light that is primarily going to be used as an on-camera or field light and not include a battery option as standard. The Lumos Trip Pro consumes 12W and is powered using optional Canon LP-E6 type batteries, or brick-style batteries using an included P-Tap power cable. The Litepanels Luma is powered by default with six AA batteries. It can also run from an AC power supply or by DC power from a camera via a D-tap cable, but these methods are again optional extras.

WINNER: Lumos Trip Pro

5. Included accessories:
The Litepanels Luma comes with a ball head shoe mount, full CTO gel, 1/4 CTO gel, 1/2 white diffusion gel, custom carrying bag and a one-year limited warranty in the U.S. / two-year warranty in EMEA Countries. The Lumos Trip Pro comes with a honeycomb grid filter, shoe mount adapter, P-Tap power cable, carrying pouch and a limited two-year warranty. The Cineo Matchbox comes with 3200 and 5600K panels, AC adapter, 6′ feeder cable and a power cord.

WINNER: Tie Lumos Trip Pro and Litepanels Luma

6. Versatility:
All three offer a good degree of versatility and can be used as much more than just an on-camera light. The Cineo Matchbox provides a really soft lighting source thanks to its remote phosphor technology and is probably the only one out of the three I would feel comfortable using as a key light for an interview. In my opinion it’s also the best out of the three at replicating colours: the white is white. The fact that out of the box it doesn’t come with a battery solution marks it down in this category though. The Lumos and Litepanels can be used as small light sources for helping to light backgrounds and with its added punch the Litepanels Luma could be used to bounce into a wall to provide some indirect illumination. Both the Lumos and Matchbox are very accurate at 5600K and 3200k. The Lumos has the added advantage of just twisting a dial to dial in the colour temperature, while the Cineo requires you to swap out the front panel. The CTO filters that you can put in front of the Litepanels Luma really don’t do a good job in my honest opinion.

WINNER: Tie Lumos Trip Pro and Cineo Matchbox

7. Visual aesthetic:
This is probably one of the most important categories – how does the light actually look under real world use? You can do all the tests in the world and even re-white balance your camera to compensate for a light’s colour shift, but you can’t drastically alter the way a small light source performs. It either looks nice or it doesn’t. All three of the lights can be made to look nice and the current crop of small LED/Remote Phosphor lights are head and shoulders above the old bulb solutions I used on ENG cameras in the 90’s. For me though the visual aesthetic from the Remote Phosphor Cineo Matchbox just provides a far softer and more even lighting source. As an on board camera light this is exactly what you are looking for as it won’t give you that ‘Deer in the headlights’ look that a lot of on-camera lights will.

WINNER: Cineo Matchbox

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Overall Winner:
All three lights have their positives and negatives, so picking a clear winner was not that easy. For me the Cineo Matchbox came out on top despite only winning three out of the seven categories. It’s the most expensive out of the three and it doesn’t come with a battery solution as standard. It does however provide the best looking lighting source and to my eye produces the most accurate colours. The build quality is also excellent and it feels like a product that will stand the test of time. There is also a vast array of optional accessories available, including a soft box, barn doors and louvre. While these will cost you a lot more to add to the Matchbox it’s good to know you have the flexibility to be able to do it. If the Matchbox came with an included battery solution as standard, it would make the light an even more appealing option.

The Lumos Trip Pro was a very close second. I have been very impressed by this Korean-made light and it comes with a good set of accessories. The fact that you can dial in any colour temperature between 3200k to 5600k is something neither of the other two lights tested can do. This may well be the best option for users of small mirorless or DSLR cameras who want a versatile light weight option.

The Litepanels Luma has the brightest output and is the only light that can be run off easily available rechargeable AA batteries. It also comes with a nice set of accessories for the price. This combination of features may be enough to tempt some users, but overall the light is let down by colour accuracy and its performance in a tungsten environment when using the CTO filters. Its physical size makes it more suitable for use on larger cameras and some users may find it too large to be used on a smaller mirrorless or DSLR cameras.

There are a lot of other on-camera lighting solutions that have come onto the market recently, including the Zylight Newz and the Rotolight Neo , that I was not able to test at this stage. It will be interesting to do another test in the future to see how they stack up against the Cineo Matchbox.

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: LED lights, Lighting, Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (0)

JVC Everio “All-Weather Cam”- Water-proof, dust-proof, shock-proof and freeze-proof, with a 5-hour internal battery

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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The JVC Everio “All-Weather Cam” seems to be one of those cameras that has slipped though the cracks. The Everio is not a big sensor, shallow DOF camera, but it could be a very useful addition to your shooting kit. The JVC Everio “All-Weather Cam” comes in three models- GZ-RX515, GZ-RX510, GZ-R315 and GZ-R310 and prices range from $295 US to about $450 US depending on the model. It seems that most models of the camera are available around the world, but not in the US. The only model I could find for sale in the US was the JVC 8GB Everio GZ-R30BUS which was available at B&H.

The Everio models offer water resistance submersed to a depth of 5m and can be placed under running water for cleaning. They also have the ability to withstand a drop from 1.5m, and offer dust-proofing and freeze-proofing down to -10˚C. The cameras feature a high-powered 40x optical zoom, advanced image stabilisation and large LCD viewscreen. The battery is internal to keep the camera water resistant, and together with its long life, helps to eliminate the risk of damaging the camcorder while exchanging batteries in bad weather. In emergency situations where you need a little more juice, you can connect a portable battery, such as a commercially available smartphone accessory and keep on shooting. You can also Quick Charge via the micro USB terminal to extend recording time as well.

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This camera is relatively small and can offer a lot of versatlity over say a GoPro if you need to get quick shots in water or conditions where you wouldn’t take a normal camera. The Everio uses a KONICA MINOLTA HD LENS and offers a 40x Optical Zoom, and a 60x Dynamic Zoom. According to JVC, the powerful 2.5M Back-illuminated CMOS Image Sensor maintains the picture’s HD resolution even when exceeding the optical zoom range. The cameras use the FALCONBRID image processing engine which can be found in higher spec JVC cameras such as the GY-LS300. It is unclear from the specifications as to what can be controlled or set manually when it comes to focus, exposure, WB and shutter. The cameras feature a HDMI C (Mini) output but it is unclear as to whether it can output a clean video signal.

The higher-end GZ-RX515/RX510 models feature Wi-Fi connectivity, AVCHD progressive recording and 8GB internal memory. Digital zoom is 100x for GZ-RX510/R310 and 200x for GZ-RX515/R315.

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The cameras record AVCHD in native Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and up to 1080/50p progressive recording (Wi-Fi models only). In addition to Full HD video, Everio can also record still pictures with an image size of up to 10 Megapixels.

Camera images from Everio can be transmitted to Android and iOS devices for real-time monitoring as well as remote recording. This is a clever feature and lets you leave the camera in a spot un attended and you can keep an eye on what’s happening far away via the Internet. You can also access the Everio via a smartphone or tablet using a free app, that allows you to wirelessly download your recorded HD footage. Full HD AVCHD data is automatically converted to widely usable MP4 files.

JVC claim the camera is capable of good low light performance, thanks to technology they call Super LoLux. According to the company, this ensures superior sensitivity to low light. With a 2.5M Back-illuminated CMOS sensor, you can capture clear images with precise colours even in low light. No worry while indoors or in dark situations.

There is also a time-Lapse record function that allows you to record one frame at a time at set intervals (1sec. – 80sec.). A rather strange feature is the Close-up Sub-Window function, that allows both a close up and a wide shot of the same to be recorded simultaneously, with the sub-window position movable by touch screen operation. I am not sure why you would want to do this as the camera looks to create a picture in picture effect and does;t record both images seperatly.

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The The JVC Everio “All-Weather Cam” is definitely not a camera I would use for an entire shoot, but for those shots where you need to use a camera in extreme conditions or underwater then it could be a nice camera to have sitting in your bag. There are times when I have shot documentaries where I had to shoot under water and in pools, and I just found that a GoPro didn’t provide me with enough flexibility.

GZ-RX515/RX510 Primary Features:
8GB Internal Memory
QUAD-PROOF Body
5H Internal Long-Life Battery*
40x Optical Zoom (60x Dynamic Zoom)
2.5M Back-illuminated CMOS Sensor
Wi-Fi Wireless Functions
AVCHD Progressive Recording
SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Slot
Compatible with Portable Battery** and USB Charging
KONICA MINOLTA HD LENS
FALCONBRID Image Processing Engine
10 Megapixel Stills
3.0-inch Full Screen Touch Panel
Enhanced Advanced Image Stabiliser
Intelligent AUTO
Face Detection / Touch AE/AF
Close-up Sub-Window
Special Effects REC (Grainy Monochrome / Food Mode / Baby Mode)
Time-Lapse REC
24Mbps High bit rate Recording
K2 Technology in REC Mode
Auto Wind Cut
Auto Illumi. Light (RX515)
Built-in Zoom Mic
200x (RX515) / 100x (RX510) Digital Zoom
1920 x 1080/50P Output
Everio Media Browser 4 Software Supplied
Works with iMovie and Final Cut Pro X
Colour availability: [Black] RX515/RX510

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Posted on June 21st, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Action Cameras, JVC | Permalink | Comments (1)

ND Slide, a built in ND filter system for the RED Scarlet, Epic, Dragon and Weapon

By technical editor Matt Allard:

Douglas Underdahl from Long Valley Equipment has come up with a prototype built-in ND filter system for RED cameras called the ND Slide.

It has two filter stages, each loaded with a different ND value, giving four settings:

1) no filter – no light reduction to the OLPF and sensor;

2) slide one engaged: ND .6 (two stops) light reduction:

3) slide two engaged: ND .9 (three stops) light reduction;

4) sildes one AND two engaged, giving a light reduction of ND 1.5, or 5 stops.

This from Douglas Underdahl:
Filters used will have both ND and IR reduction. Phil Holland seems to think that Formatt Firecrest filters are the best and we will test them along with others. Also, other values might be used, for example, 3 stops, 6 stops, and the combo would yield 9 total stops along with IR attenuation. Or more?

LENS MOUNTS – right now, I’m using this prototype with our Long Valley Equipment Posi Lock Nikon mount for Epic/Scarlet/Dragon/Weapon. This mount uses the Red One Nikon locking system and is very robust. The chassis is CNC machined from a single billet of 6061 aluminum. It offers manual iris control for G series Nikon lenses and other lenses that have no iris control ring. It does not have any electrical contact with the camera and offers no electronic iris or focus control from the camera – a “dumb” mount. I’ve tried about 10 different Nikon mounted lenses, old and new, and none of them protrude into the lens mount enough to contact the ND Slide.

I am sure that there will be interest in this built in filter system for use with other lens mounts such as the Red Digital Cine’s DSMC Nikon, Canon, and PL mounts, but at this point, I’m not sure how compatible it will be. It should be clear that a slot needs to be cut into the top of the mount and I don’t know if this will or won’t be possible with these mounts.

SHARPNESS I’ve been doing some tests with my Epic at 5K, and I’m actually having trouble figuring out which image is with the built in ND and which is without. There is some reduction in quality but it is very slight and probably similar to using ND filters in front of the lens.

RUN AND GUN Well, you know what this device means for run and gun – and other work. You can instantly switch on ND filters in the camera, so you can react to wildly changing light values without stopping to pull out an ND and place it over the lens. In many cases, this can mean the difference between getting the shot or losing it forever. Even for scripted narrative work, the ND Slide can speed up production and will prove invaluable, as built in ND filters have in other cameras.

CUSTOM FILTERSnot sure what other filters might find their way into the ND Slide, but if you have ideas for effects filters, etc, just let me know. I can imagine nets, UV, IR Pass, fog, double fog, low con, etc etc.

The Newsshooter view:
With a system like this focus is where things get a little tricky. Any glass placed between the lens and focal plane will shift the flange focus distance (back focus). So there will be a focus shift when you engage the filters. Every time you stack another filter then the flange focus distance will continue to change. The increase of the flange focal distance will be even more apparent when you use wider angle lenses. Another thing to keep in mind is that minimum focus distance will also increase due to the flange focal distance moving. This doesn’t mean the Slide is unusable as you can still focus on your subject by turning the focus ring on the lens until sharp focus is achieved. As long as you can still hit infinity focus then it should be ok. For those who use a tape measure and set focus using the witness mark and focus distances on the lens, it should be noted that the focus marks will not be accurate when one or both filter slides are engaged. They will all be shifted slightly.

The ND Slide is a good idea in concept but it isn’t without its problems. Just like other devices that use a similar behind the lens filter such as the Fotodiox ND Throttle, users should be aware of the potential pitfalls of having the focal flange distance change every time you ad or remove a filter. For solo operators they probably will find the ND Slide to be a workable solution, but for those working on big productions where a focus puller is required, the changing of the flange distance may end up causing too many problems and delays in filming. It will be interesting to see if a version can be made to work with PL and Canon lenses which are by far the most poplar choices among RED users.

Posted on June 21st, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Red | Permalink | Comments (2)

How the Kowa PROMINAR 8.5mm F2.8 M4/3 lens is made

By technical editor Matt Allard:

Kowa has put up a video that gives a rare insight into how their new PROMINAR 8.5mm F2.8 super wide angle manual lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras is made. The 8.5mm F2.8 has been available for a while now and reatils for a little over $1000US. It is interesting to see the process that actually goes into making a high quality lens. Despite using a lot of complex machinery the Kowa lenses are not mass produced like some other prominent brands. Each lens is hand made and meticulously put together.

Last year at InterBee 2014 I got to check out the lens as well as the new additions to the range- the 12mm F1.8 and 25mm F1.8. The Kowa lenses feature extra-low dispersion glass that is combined with concave lens discretion to greatly reduce any chromatic aberration. They feature a 9 blade aperture that provides circular bokeh at all f stops. Another nice thing for video use is they have a duel link iris system that allows you to choose either silent or click aperture adjustments. The lenses are very well built and feature a aluminium housing. They feel very solid and beautiful well made. If you are an owner of a M4/3 mount camera then they are definitely worth checking out.

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Posted on June 20th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Lenses | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art full frame lens – A multi range prime lens disguised as a zoom

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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Sigma has unveiled the 24-35mm F2 DG HSM Art, the world’s first large-aperture full-frame wide-angle zoom lens offering F2 brightness throughout the zoom range. The new lens is the first of its kind and should be viewed more as a multi purpose prime lens than a zoom. The lens covers 24mm, 28mm and 35mm focal lengths and should excel on cameras like the Canon 5D mkIII or Sony a7S. On a APS-C sized sensor you will get a range of 38-56mm – although unless you are using a Speedbooster you would probably be better off with the excellent Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 ART lens instead with this sensor size.

Designed so photographers can carry one lens to do the work of three fixed focal length lenses. According to Sigma, with a F2 brightness and top optical performance the lens delivers flexible functionality and high convenience. At the 24mm and 35mm focal lengths, this lens offers the performance that is equivalent to that of two prime lenses in the Art line. Instead of changing one high-performance fixed focal length lens for another, simply zoom. This is a new zoom lens for 35mm full frame sensor SLRs that offers the quality of a fixed focal length lens at various angles of view.

With a limited range of 24-35mm the lens looks to be perfect for gimbal and stedicam operators who commonly use prime lenses within that focal range. Having the ability to adjust the focal length between 24-35mm and not have to worry about re balancing your rig should make this lens a very popular option. The inner focusing system eliminates front lens rotation, enhancing the lens’ stability and allowing use of Variable ND or Circular Polarizing filters.

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This from Sigma:
The lens incorporates large-diameter aspherical lens elements, which require advanced technologies to manufacture, one FLD (“F” Low Dispersion)* glass and seven SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements, of which two are aspherical lenses. The advanced optics and optimized lens power distribution minimize spherical aberration, axial chromatic aberration and field curvature, resulting in outstanding optical performance. Even at widest aperture, this lens delivers breathtaking image quality.

With a minimum focusing distance of 28cm and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.4, this lens is excellent for close-up photography.

From an early stage in the lens design process, flare and ghosting have been measured to establish an optical design resistant to strong incident light sources such as backlighting. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting and provides sharp and high contrast images even in backlit conditions. The included lens hood can be attached to block out extraneous light, which can have a negative effect on rendering performance.

The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures a silent, high-speed AF function. By optimizing the AF algorithm, smoother AF is achieved. Also, this lens offers full-time MF by rotating the focus ring of the lens while auto focusing. Without changing the AF/MF Focus Mode Switch, it allows faster focus adjustment.
* The default setting of Full-time MF function varies for each mount.

As an experienced lens manufacturer that has been creating a diverse range of interchangeable lenses, we have started the innovative “Mount Conversion Service”. With this chargeable service, the mount of your current SIGMA lenses can be changed to another mount of your choice. It gives new life to your favorite lenses when you wish to use them on a different camera body.
* This “Mount Conversion Service” is different from a normal repair. In order to apply for the service, please contact your nearest authorized subsidiary / SIGMA distributor.

Specifications:
[Specification]

Lens Construction: 18 elements in 13 groups
Minimum aperture: F16
Filter size: ø82mm
Angle of view (35mm): 84.1°-63.4°
Minimum focusing distance: 28cm/11.0in.
Dimensions (Diameter x Length): ø87.6mm x 122.7mm/3.4in. x 4.8in.
Number of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded diaphragm)
Maximum magnification ratio: 1:4.4
Weight: 940g/33.2oz.

The lens will be available in Nikon, Canon and Sigma mounts. There is no indication of price but the lens should be available to purchase in July.

Posted on June 19th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Lenses, Sigma | Permalink | Comments (1)

World’s first Nikon F to Sony E-Mount adaptor with full auto focus capabilities

By technical editor Matt Allard:

There have been a lot of lens adaptors and speed boosters made for the popular Sony E-mount, including autofocus capable ones for Canon EF lenses. Nikon lens owners who wanted to be able to use autofocus or electronic iris capabilities on a Sony E mount camera have always had no solution – until now. An unnamed Chinese company has developed what is claimed to be the world’s first Nikon F to E-mount adaptor with full auto focus capabilities. There is no mention of whether the iris will be able to be controlled electronically as well, but if the adaptor is communicating electronically with the lens we assume this is possible.

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This is potentially very good news for owners of the Sony a7S, a7R, A7, a6000, FS7 and FS700 whose only option previously was mechanical lens adaptors with an iris ring if they wanted to use Nikon lenses. There is no indication at this stage as to what cameras and lens combinations have been tested and will work with the adaptor.

The Sony EA3 adaptor shown next to the Nikon AF to E mount adaptor

The Sony EA3 adaptor shown next to the Nikon AF to E mount adaptor

The complexity of getting a Nikon AF lens to work on a E mount lens is the main reason there have been no adaptors available. According to Chinese blog site Xjirumo, the Nikon AF to E mount adaptor is claimed to be in the final stages of production and should be available later this year.

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There is no estimation of pricing or where you will be able to buy one from. Newsshooter will attempt to find out more about the adapter from our contributors in China.

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Posted on June 19th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Sony, Sony A7, Sony a7rII, Sony a7S, Sony FS7, Sony FS700, Sony NEX | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turn your iPhone into a 1″ sensor camera- Meet the DxO ONE

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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There has been a dramatic decline in the sales of small, compact cameras over the last few years. The main reason for this is the quality of cameras that can found in todays smart phones. For a lot of people the images that you can capture from your smartphone mean it is hard to justify carrying around a second dedicated camera. While phones like the iPhone 6 can give you spectacular results, they still have their limitations and don’t quite measure up to the image quality of larger DSLR and mirrorless cameras. For those who want to take their smartphone to the next level, the DxO ONE may well be the solution you have been looking for.

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The DxO One is a small camera that attaches to any iPhone or iPad that has a Lightning port. It bypasses the internal camera sensor and allows the user to capture far higher quality images and video. The DxO ONE features a 1″ sensor that can capture 20.2 megapixel images (RAW or JPED) and full 1080p HD video. To put the sensor size in perspective it is the same size as the the Sony RX100 and RX10. Ironically the sensor itself is made by Sony. The fixed lens has a full frame equivalent of 32mm and a f1.8 aperture. You can capture 1080p video at 30fps, and 720p video at 120fps. The camera has a six-blade aperture and the optics consist of six aspherical lenses; most phone cameras have between one and three. The minimum focusing distance is 20cm and the lens can be stopped down to f11. The camera can snap a photo in as fast as one-eight thousandth of a second, and the shutter can stay open long enough for a 15-second exposure. It has an ISO range that starts at 100 and goes up to 51,200. The DxO ONE has manually adjustable aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings, complete with the kinds of picture modes you’d see on a DSLR or micro four-thirds camera

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You connect DxO ONE to your iPhone to turn the screen into one big viewfinder. The camera can swivel and take photos or video at any angle. It has its own memory card and battery so it won’t drain your phone or use up its storage. Weighing less than 4 ounces and well under 3 inches tall, DxO ONE is built to fit in your pocket. It’s made of durable materials, including forged aircraft grade aluminium.

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The DxO ONE is definetely aimed squarely at photography, but it will be interesting to see its performance and quality when capturing video. It would be great to see the DxO ONE used with apps such as FilmicPro, but as the DxO ONE uses its own app to work with the camera this may not be possible. When attached to the phone, you can stream video from the card which may be very useful for a lot of video journalists. There’s no image stabilization for stills, but it does have electronic image stabilization for video.

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The downsides of the DxO ONE are the built-in battery’s life only lets you take 150-180 shots and it won’t work with Android phones. The cameras main competition comes from the Sony QX100 which has a similar sensor and a 3.6x zoom lens, with optical image stabilization and Android support. The Sony QX100 also has the advantage of being able to be places anywhere and does not have to be connected to the camera like the DxO ONE.

This from DXO Mark:
As with any other camera, the DxOMark team has fully evaluated the ONE in objective laboratory tests and will be as transparent as possible regarding the science and implementation that enable DxO ONE to achieve a score of 85, one stop better than the best one-inch sensor so far.

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The DxO ONE outputs two different sets of RAW files, which is why there are two different DxOMark sensor results. The first “standard” RAW score of 70 is just above the extremely popular Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX100 III, which achieves a score of 67. The second DxOMark sensor score up to 85 is the result of what DxO refers to as SuperRAW Plus™, which is actually the result of four RAW frames captured in quick succession. DxO Connect software for Mac and PC utilizes Temporal Noise Reduction (TNR) to combine the four RAW files into one new SuperRAW Plus file that DxOMark analyzed.

The DxO ONE camera’s score of up to 85 puts it on par with many DSLR cameras, such as the Nikon D7200 and the Sony A7S (both with a score of 87), and is well above such Canon DSLRs as the EOS 5D Mark III (81) and the 7D Mark II (70). This score also places it in third among compact cameras, just behind the full-frame Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and the DSC-RX1R, which score 93 and 91, respectively.

The performance results of the DxO ONE camera are quite impressive, in that a sensor score of up to 85 in such an incredibly compact camera clearly represents a breakthrough in design. The results demonstrate that the ONE can provide low-light performance similar to the best high-end micro-four-thirds or APS-C DSLRs. Coupled with the fact that the DxO ONE pairs seamlessly with the iPhone and iPad, the DxO ONE has redefined what a connected camera can be, and has demonstrated the level of image quality that can be achieved by such a system.

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This from DxO:
When you buy DxO ONE, you also get DxO FilmPack and (for a limited time) the Elite Edition of DxO OpticsPro — our professional editing software (a $300 combined value). Your photos will look great the moment you snap them, but if you want to go a step further, you’ll have the power to enhance them even more and add your own creative touch.

DxO ONE:
Price: $599
20.2MP
Still Resolution (5406X3604)
1080p/30fps Video Resolution 720p/120fps
1″ format
Sensor Size: 13.2×8.8mm
Sensor Type: CMOS – BSI
Focal Length: 11.9mm (equivalent to 32mm in full frame)
Lens cover: Integrated, sliding (on/off)
Aperture: f/1.8 adjustable down to f/11 (6 blade iris)
Shutter button: 2-stage
OLED Settings display, touch control
Iso Range: From ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (Hi 2)
Shutter Speed: From 1/8000 to 15s
Image Stabilization: Electronic (for video)
Camera modes: Auto, Sports, Portrait, Landscape, Night, Program, Aperture Priority, Speed Priority, Manual, Selfie
Video modes: 1080p (30 fps), 720p (120fps)
File formats: .JPG, .DNG, .DxO (SuperRAW™), .MOV (H.264)
Focus range: 20cm – infinity
Autofocus: Contrast detect, using face-detection
Focus modes: Single-shot, continuous, tap-to-focus
Metering modes: Spot, center weighted, multi-zone
Zoom: Digital 3x
Micro USB port
USB 2 (power charging, mass storage connection)
Lightning connector: Retractable/collapsible, +/- 60º rotation
Screen size: Varies, function of connected iDevice between 4” and 9.7”
Screen resolution: Varies, function of connected iDevice between 727,040 and 3,145,728 dots
Storage type: microSD UHS-I U3 (not included)
Orientation: Gyroscope + accelerometer
Battery type: Integrated lithium ion
Battery life: ~200 photos
Weight: 3.8oz (108g)
Dimensions: 67.5 x 48.85 x 26.25 mm
Compatible with: iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, iPad (4th gen), iOS 8 or later

EXAMPLE IMAGES:

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FAQs
How is it possible for DxO ONE to capture images as good as a DSLR?

Within the camera industry, we’re known and respected for our deep knowledge on the science of image processing and for spending over a decade partnering with camera companies, other scientists, and academics. Over 300 million cameras worldwide contain our embedded imaging software, and we created DxOMark, the global standard for objectively grading image quality.

The DxO ONE camera can record two types of RAW files: default RAW files in DNG format, and DxO’s proprietary SuperRAW™ format which automatically merges four RAW files into one. SuperRAW™ and DxO’s advanced image processing, which includes the very latest in spatial and temporal noise reduction, allows the ONE to achieve a DxO Mark sensor score of 80, demonstrating that the quality of images produced by DxO ONE far exceeds that of most high-end digital cameras, even DSLRs costing and weighing considerably more. Read the full DxOMark ONE review here.

Will DxO ONE impact either the battery life or storage space on my iPhone?
DxO ONE is powered by its own rechargeable battery and saves the pictures you take to a microSD memory card (available in the DxO shop). It won’t drain your iPhone battery, and you can choose whether or not to automatically save photos to your iPhone.

What do I need to get started with DxO ONE?
You can use the DxO ONE as a standalone camera, but you’ll need a compatible iPhone or iPad to get the big, interactive viewfinder and many other powerful DSLR features. When connected, you can easily access your DxO ONE photos on your iPhone and iPad. Which means you can easily edit them in Photos or your favorite app, and you can share them via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or anywhere else you care to share your photos. (Note: DxO ONE is currently available for iOS only)

Do I need to have DxO software to use DxO ONE?
Default images from DxO ONE are captured as DNG files so you can view and edit them in Adobe Lightroom or your preferred photo app. In addition, you get DxO FilmPack for free and DxO OpticsPro Elite Edition (free for a limited time),so you’ll have incredibly powerful and intelligent photo correction software at your fingertips.

Can I share photos from my DxO ONE?
Yes! The free DxO ONE app for iOS lets you instantly share via Mail, Message, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more, when connected to your iPhone.

Can I return the DxO ONE if I don’t like it?
Of course. If you don’t love using it, send it back within your first 30 days with your receipt. We’ll even pay the return shipping.

At this time, the DxO ONE can only be purchased in the US, but we’re working to bring it to you.

Posted on June 19th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (0)

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