I spent most of my IBC on the Sony stand at what was unofficially known as the “ICE” bar, this had nothing to do with the famous Vodka serving Ice bar at the Red Square in Vegas (shame)! The ICE bar was manned by myself and other Sony Independent Certified Experts as well as Sony engineers and staff. We had most of the latest Alpha, NEX, NXCAM and XDCAM cameras but the best bit was that we also had a huge range of third party adapters, mounts, brackets and other widgets so that we could help and advise on different ways to get the most from your cameras. This was quite a departure for Sony as very often they will only show Sony products, but on the ICE bar we were able to talk freely about the myriad of different options that you have thanks to aftermarket updates and add ons.
The end result of this for me was an almost non stop queue of people eager to try different adapters, lenses or recorders on the fronts and backs of the F3 and FS100’s, so I got very little time to look around the vast show that IBC has become.
So what did catch my eye at IBC?
Starting on the Sony booth there was the new SCL-Z18x14 lens for the PMW-F3. This lens fits directly on to the FS mount and is not a PL mount lens. It is a 14x zoom giving a focal length range of 18 to 252mm, which for a Super 35mm camera is an incredible range. It is a servo zoom, operated by the F3’s zoom rocker and has auto iris, an optical image stabiliser and both full manual focus and autofocus via Sony’s familiar sliding focus ring system. The list price of around 9000 euros is very attractive, although you do need to consider that this is a T4 to T6.7 lens, so not very fast. However to put this into perspective an Angenieux Optimo 24-290 T2.8 will cost you in the region of 50,000 Euro’s and weighs a mighty 11kg (24lbs). One plus point for the Sony lens is that it does not breathe!
Of course instead of a PL mount or dedicated lens on the F3 you can always use a DSLR lens via an adapter. One of the stumbling blocks here has been that the iris on Canon lenses is controlled electronically by the camera, making them difficult to use on a non Canon body.
But not any more. Mike Tappa from MTF services has been working on this problem and we had one of his electronically controlled Canon adapters on the Sony booth. There are two parts to the system. A small electronic control box with internal batteries and the adapter itself. This means you can just get one control box and then buy the appropriate adapter ring to fit either a PMW-F3, the FS100 or Panasonic AF101. It’s not available just yet, Mike tells me it will be a couple of months with a target price of “less than 1000 euros”. I’m sure this will be a very popular product. The Birger adapter seems to have disappeared and it would seem that they are having issues getting it to work correctly, so Mike’s simple but highly effective approach is most welcome.
There were more and more booths showing camera rods, rails and camera mounts than ever this year so plenty to choose from there. We had a couple of nice Vocas rigs on the Sony booth that were sturdy and well made. Others worthy of a mention here are the new TLS Cineplates. Made for a variety of smaller cameras and including made to measure adapters for the F3 and FS100, these support brackets for 15mm rails are superbly designed and engineered and apart from anything else look fantastic. They are highly adjustable and the F3 version is designed to fit on the Arri 35mm bridge plate system that uses 19mm bars.
From Genus there is the recently introduced Elite Matte box designed for PL Mount and larger lenses. The Elite can take 4×4, 5×5 and 5.65×5.65 filters via innovative dual size filter holders. One way to support the Elite is a novel swing away adapter. This adapter is designed to work with Matte Boxes that are not already swing away. It mounts on the ends of a pair of 15mm rails and then the matte box support attaches to the adapter, the adapter itself can then be made to swing forwards with a clever double hinge allowing the matte box to swing forwards. This adapter can be fitted to a wide range of matte boxes, not just Genus ones. Of course you’ll need a 15mm rod system and genus have a new Uni-Plate universal base plate. This is really nice because as well as the usual front/back, up/down adjustments this also has a side to side adjustment with is useful for cameras with off centre mounting holes or off centre lens supports. Once you have your rails and rods in place then you’ll need something to mount all your accessories on and Genus now have both a 15mm and 19mm cheese plate kit.
The cheese plate mounts horizontally and vertically and has holes for most of the common battery adapter plates as well as a multitude of 1/4″ and 3/8″ threaded holes. Of course before I move on from Genus, I have to mention my Hurricane 3d rig. At IBC we were showing the latest updates including a new oversize hood for large PL mount lenses and the Canon XF105 as well as the motorisation upgrade kit.
This kit comprises of a bracket and drive gear that allows you to motorise the Interaxial adjustment using standard follow focus motors. Attached to the rig we had a prototype “Today 3D” 3D control system with wireless dual focus and IA control. With this kit fitted the Hurricane Rig becomes a real delight to use and allows the Stereographer to control the rig from the video village allowing the DoP or operator to shoot uninterrupted. IA control is accurate to within 1mm. Not shown at the show was a 3D monitoring solution for non-sync cameras costing less than 1000 euros but more on that another time.
So we have cameras, adapters and rod etc, but what about lenses? Well for the PMW-F3 you could always get a set of Zeiss, Cooke or Arri PL mount lenses. We all know that these are good, solid lenses but what about Schneider lenses?
Schneider are not new to this sector but they are now bringing in some very new lenses that were designed from the ground up to work with digital imagers as opposed to film. The Cine-Xenar II lenses are available with various mounts including Canon and PL mount. They are HD/2K/4K lenses with a telecentric optical design. The Telecentric design minimises breathing to the point where it’s barely noticeable (good for 3D) and ensures that the image projected on to the video sensor is flat, right out to the corners with virtually no vignetting. This means the image sharpness will be very even across the image giving a well focussed and even image. In addition the lenses typically have between 12 and 18 blade iris mechanisms for exceptionally beautiful Bokeh.
looking down into the lenses you can see the incredibly large amount of baffles used to reduce and control internal and external flare. One small quirk of these lenses is the way they focus. when you turn the focus ring the entire lens moves forwards and backwards, including the focus ring, so you will need a wide follow focus gear and a flexible donut or Nuns Knickers for you matte box. Although a little bit more expensive than some of the entry level PL mount lenses, Schneider claim that these lenses perform as well as some of the very best (and most expensive) lenses on the market so they may be an interesting option, I hope to get one or two to try out in the near future… I’ll keep you posted! One thing to consider is that purchasing a set of PL lenses is possibly a better long term purchase than a camera. Get a good set of lenses and they could last a life-time, almost certainly longer than most cameras. These lenses may be a great proposition as they are designed for flat, electronic sensors and they are good for 4k so they would even be a nice choice for the Sony F65.
Talking of the F65, I can’t not mention it here. The images from this camera still amaze me. They don’t necessarily look “sharp” but the level of small detail in the textures that you can see is incredible. Talking of incredible what about the price? 39,000 Euros for the body only or 75,000 Euro-ish for a full shooting kit is pretty good. Remember this is an 8K camera, recording 16bit RAW 4K. Drool… drool… just think of the flexibility you’ll have in post from that!
Another price to take me by surprise was the price of the Sony SR-R1. Now I have always associated HDCAM SR products as being expensive. I’ve never even considered actually buying or owning my own HDCAM SR kit, the price has always been similar to that of unobtainium, £40k and upwards. But the SR-R1 is solid state, so there is no need for a super precise mechanical deck with spinning drums etc. This makes it a much cheaper product to produce and as a result the price is much, much lower. In fact it’s actually quite affordable (for a top end piece of kit) with a UK street price of less than £14,000. It supports Dual Link, 3G and 3D recording onto SR Memory using the HDCAM SR codec at between 220 and 880Mbps. If you are shooting a low budget movie or commercials a PMW-F3 and SR-R1 has to be food for thought.
Of course for many, me included, £14k is still a lot to pay for a recorder, even if it is HDCAM SR. Now I have S-log on my F3’s I really need a decent 10 bit 4:4:4 recorder and the obvious fit is the Convergent Design Gemini. At IBC, Mike Schell of CD was proudly showing off working versions of the Gemini which is an ultra portable video recorder and monitor that can record single link 4:2:2 and both dual link and 3G 4:4:4 uncompressed video onto cost effective solid state hard drives as industry standard DPX files. Priced at around 4,900 Euros this is an amazing product considering it is both a recorder and HD monitor in a unit that fits into the palm of your hand and weighs very little. There will be future options for 3D and other uncompressed formats. Shipping is expected to commence in October, but not surprisingly there is a bit of a waiting list, so if you want one in a hurry you’d better get your name down soon.
While the Gemini does make a handy field monitor there is still a big need for small on camera monitors and viewfinders. Both Zacuto and Cineroid have had HDMI equipped electronic viewfinders on the market for some time. The early Cineroid units did have a few quality control issues and I have been assured that these have been addressed.
As I needed an EVF for use on my F3 rig I decided to pick up one of the new HDSDi versions of the Cineroid EVF at IBC. This has a very solid metal body and a much improved battery system. The screen is the same 800 x 480 as the older model, more resolution would be nice, but it works and I find I can focus with it very accurately using the peaking function. One nice point is that the lag seems much reduced compared to EVF’s using HDMI and this make using the viewfinder much easier. With my eyes starting to get a little older I’m finding a decent EVF with a bit of diopter adjustment more and more necessary and I am pleased with my new purchase. The clipping guide that shows you when the highlights are over exposed is particularly useful and pixel to pixel mapping can also be used for critical focus. Overall this unit feels very solid and should withstand the bumps and knocks it’s sure to get.
So now I have even more kit to power what should I use? I have not tried these yet but Pag’s new PagLink system sounds very clever. Have you ever had to set your alarm clock to get up in the middle of the night to swap batteries over on your charger as you don’t have enough channels to charge all your batteries? I know I have and it’s a real pain. The new PagLink system allows you to stack multiple batteries together, not just to get higher capacity or more power for shooting, but also to charge multiple batteries from a single V-Lock charger channel. In addition you can put a pair of batteries on the camera and hot swap the rear battery for continuous shooting. Check it out, it sounds very clever indeed.
Talking of stacking devices together, how about Atomos’s new “connect” mini converters. These tiny (really tiny) HDMI to HDSDI and HDSDI to HDMI converters are designed to clip on to the rear of existing devices that use Sony F series batteries. The converters themselves are powered by F series batteries and cost just a little over £200 GBP. But the cleverness doesn’t stop there because each connect device contains an internal battery that can power the device it’s connected to. So, slap a connect on the back of a Ninja and you can run it for a couple of hours and feed it from either HDM or HDSDi. Put a battery on the back of the connect and you can hot swap batteries while recording. In addition you can store test charts in a memory within the connect and it also doubles up as a flash light!!!! While talking about Atomos they are just about to release the Samurai which is the HDSDi version of the Ninja recorder. It has a bigger and better screen than the Ninja so it’s the unit is a little bigger. Priced at 1145 Euros this really is a bargain for a 10 bit HDSDi recorder.
A few smaller notes.. The Sound Devices PIX240 will record 10 bit ProRes and DNxHD but it’s big and heavy. Nicely made but quite a weight to bolt on a camera and there is a big fan in the back of it. The KiPro Mini will get an upgrade to allow DNxHD recording in the coming months and Sony won an IABM award for their OLED monitor range. You really need to see OLED monitors in action to appreciate just how good they are.
So.. I’ve got a ton of work to do so can’t write any more now. It was great to meet so many of my readers at IBC.. Hello to all of you. I’m going to re-visit EX1 and EX3 picture profiles in the coming months as well as a whole series of S-Log tutorials. Catch up again soon.