Category Archives: Everything Else

Aliens Might Think The Earth Is Perpetually Dark!

If you were an alien on another planet and had access to nothing but all the latest camera demo or “film-maker” reels on YouTube or Vimeo you would quite possibly believe that much of planet Earth is in perpetual darkness.

All you see is clips shot at night or in blacked out studios. Often with very little dynamic range, often incredibly (excessively?) dark. I keep having to check that the brightness on my monitor is set correctly. Even daytime interiors always seem to be in rooms that are 90% dark with just a tiny, low contrast pool of daylight from a window filling one corner and even the light coming through the window is dim and dull. 

I recently viewed a clip that was supposed to show the benefits of raw that contained nothing but low dynamic range shots where 70% of each frame was nothing but black. Sadly there were no deep shadow details, just blackness, some very dark faces and where there were highlights they were clipped. It was impossible to tell anything about the format being used.

The default showreel or demo shot is now a very dark space with a 3/4 profile person, very dimly lit, low key, by a large soft source. Throw in a shiny car with some specular highlights or a few dim practical lights into the background for extra brownie points. 

Let me let you in to a little secret – it’s really, really easy to make black frames. Want a little pool of light – add a light to your mostly black frame. It’s really easy to shoot under exposed and then as a result not have any issues with dynamic range. It’s really easy to shoot a face so that it’s so dark you can barely see the persons eyes and then not have a problem with shiny skin.

But try shooting someone at a desk in a bright office and make that look really great. Try shooting a proper daytime living room scene and making that look flawless. A summer picnic on a beach with brilliant blue sky perhaps. These are all challenging to do very well for both the DoP and the camera.

We have these wonderful cameras with huge dynamic ranges that work really well in daylight too. But we seem to be losing the ability to shoot anything other than shots that have very low average brightness levels and low dynamic range. They depend on often coloured or tinted lighting to provide some interest in what would otherwise be a very, very boring images. Where are all the challenging shots in difficult lighting? Where are the bright, vibrant shots where we can see the dynamic range, resolution and natural colour palettes that separate a good camera from a great camera? 

Dark is getting very boring. 

Accsoon Cineeye 2S Wireless Video Link with Streaming Function

So there are now quite a lot of these devices appearing on the market. I have a Hollyland Mars 400 kit and it works really well. But this one caught my eye because it includes the ability to stream to platforms such as YouTube using RTMP.
In these days of remote production being able to stream the cameras output to a remote client or producer could prove very useful.

I haven’t seen one in person and I don’t know the company, so no idea if it’s actually any good. But certainly on paper it’s really interesting. 

Here’s the info from the press release. 

 

4ea1d055e1c53d66df52fadef6c585cb Accsoon Cineeye 2S Wireless Video Link with Streaming Function

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large-bc2872a444bb846886da7a79105e751b Accsoon Cineeye 2S Wireless Video Link with Streaming Function
large-674a2318d09a629ce7735414fd29f239 Accsoon Cineeye 2S Wireless Video Link with Streaming Function
large-b79eeb88e786297bf5c9c62100b8634a Accsoon Cineeye 2S Wireless Video Link with Streaming Function
large-66691526b2488b48538670f1cdf55130 Accsoon Cineeye 2S Wireless Video Link with Streaming Function
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large-88ec9a63243d7f6cf966b225b890d987 Accsoon Cineeye 2S Wireless Video Link with Streaming Function

Xperia Pro – Is this the phone all video professionals should Own?

Screenshot-2021-01-27-at-17.13.22-537x500 Xperia Pro - Is this the phone all video professionals should Own?
The Xperia Pro has an HDMI input and can be used as a 4K HDR monitor.

 

A dramatic headline perhaps, but once I start to look at what the Xperia Pro can do, I can’t help but say – I want one! The Xperia Pro is so much more than just a phone for making calls or watching YouTube videos.

The Xperia Pro shares many features of Sony’s flagship Xperia 1 II and adds an HDMI input.

HDMI IN. Yes, that’s right – it has a 4K/HD HDMI input. So you can plug your camera into it and use it as an HDMI monitor, plus its HDR so you have a small pocket sized HDMI monitor. When I travel (travel – hopefully that will happen again) to remote locations I often don’t take a monitor because of the extra bulk. But being able to use a phone as a monitor from time to time would be such a help. It supports HDR and Rec2020 and has pinch to zoom if you need to enlarge the image to check focus etc.

Streaming from the HDMI input.

Install a streaming app on the phone and you can use it to stream the HDMI feed from any connected camera direct to your favorite platforms. No need to use clumsy tethering, just plug in the HDMI and start your favorite app.

5G millimeter wave. Because the phone features 5G millimeter wave connectivity, where available you will have access to extremely fast data transfer speeds for streaming or ftp transfers. The phone also includes a Network Visualiser App that allows you to find the best network connectivity so you can be sure of the best possible connection wherever you are.

3x High Quality Cameras. The Xperia Pro has three 12mp cameras with Zeiss lenses that are the equivalent of 16mm f2.2, a particularly impressive 24mm f1.7 as well as a 70mm f2.4. The cameras have been co developed by engineers from the Alpha team and feature full manual control as well as raw stills. For video it can shoot at 4K HDR at 24, 30, 60 and 120fps with an optional wide screen 21:9 (2.370:1) aspect ratio mode that matches the 21:9 aspect ratio of the phone itself.

Screenshot-2021-01-27-at-17.14.51-600x369 Xperia Pro - Is this the phone all video professionals should Own?

But all of this goodness comes at a price. Currently its priced at $2499 USD which is a huge amount of money for a phone. The very similar  Xperia 1 II without the HDMI input can be found for less than half of that. But for someone that streams a lot, perhaps for TV news applications there is a lot to like. You could use the phone as your camera or use the phone to stream from a better camera, easily and simply. With 5G you can use it to upload finished packages quickly and easily. The cost of any high end phone plus an HDR 4K monitor would be close to that of the Xperia Pro, so while it is a lot of money it isn’t perhaps as outrageous as it first seems.

You can find more information here: https://www.sony.com/electronics/professional-smartphones/xperia-pro#product_details_default

 

Sony Alpha 1. 8K, 10 bit Mirrorless Camera.

a1-1600.f1cb27a519bdb5b6ed34049a5b86e317-600x338 Sony Alpha 1. 8K, 10 bit Mirrorless Camera.
Sony Alpha 1. 8K 10 bit 4:2:0 Video makes this a very interesting camera.

Much rumoured for some time here it is, the Sony Alpha 1.

Some of the headlines are impressive to say the least:

  • Full Frame 8K 30fps recording from over sampled 8.6K recording using 10 bit 4:2:0 XAVC-HS.  200-400Mb/s. This should be possible for 30 minutes of continuous shooting.
  • 5.8K over sampled Super35mm 4K shooting mode. Wow!!
  • 4K up to  120fps, codecs including 10 bit intraframe and long GoP 16 bit raw output. EDIT: Originally I thought this would be oversampled from 8K up to 30fps, but I’m now hearing that it’s pixel binned. If that is the case there may be a lot of aliasing and moire in this mode.
  • S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine and YES it has S-Cinetone, so should be a good match for the FX6 and FX9.
  • 15+ Stops of dynamic range in both video mode and 15 stops in photo mode.
  • 5 Axis internal stabilisation. Built in motion detection gyros and image stabilisation as well as the ability to stabilise in post production with Catalyst Browse. 
  • Faster eye AF and improved AF – how the hell can it get any better?

Available March 2021 for $6,500 USD – A lot of money for a stills camera but not a lot for an 8K, 15+ stop video camera!

Screenshot-2021-01-26-at-17.32.56-1024x963 Sony Alpha 1. 8K, 10 bit Mirrorless Camera.
Sony Alpha 1 Full Frame 8K 10 bit video capable camera with over sampled super 35mm 4K and 120fps!



I think this is a camera that simply cannot be ignored, whether you shoot corporate videos or make Hollywood blockbusters. I have never been a fan of the ergonomics of a stills camera when shooting video. The Alpha 1 does not have ND filters and you will need to use an MI shoe adapter to get XLR audio in. Also the LCD screen on the back is quite small to use as an LCD finder for video. But it does have a very nice built in OLED EVF that looks to be of exceptionally high quality. There doesn’t appear to be any LUT options or dedicated log shooting mode.

But despite these missing or not quite right for video things, you cannot ignore 8K, the over sampled Full Frame 4K and oversampled Super 35mm 4K – plus 4K 120fps. All in all, this camera ticks a lot of boxes. It could be very nice for chroma key or green screen applications.

It won’t be the low light monster that either the A7SIII or FX6 are. But given recent improvements in sensor technology you can bet the low light performance won’t be terrible.

I also have to wonder what this sensor and processing could do if repackaged into a video camera body. Throw in an ND filter system, a couple of SDI outs and a proper viewfinder – as done with the A7SIII – FX6 – Could this be turned into the F55 replacement many are looking for? If it was it could end up better than a Venice. Could this become the Venice II?

With many parts of Sony now coming under the Alpha Group, for example Pro cameras in the US are now sold by the “Digital Imaging” arm of Sony, the same people behind the Alpha cameras. Could we be seeing the start of a new approach for large sensor video cameras sharing a lot more common DNA than in the past and all coming from just one part of Sony. It makes sense. If they do turn this into a video camera with all the right options and ergonomics it could be an awesome piece of kit.

But let’s just slow down for a minute. I haven’t seen any footage other than via YouTube yet, so maybe it’s not as good as the specs suggest. If the Full Frame 4K is pixel binned that particular mode might not be so good. I suspect this camera is going to be awesome! But at the same time for video shooters the FX9 and FX6 still make a lot of sense. The variable ND is a huge time saver, I’m not sure I ever want to go back to carrying a box of ND’s. Do I need 8K? Certainly no one except Sony have ever asked me for 8K – Sony use it for the CLED video walls. If I did lots and lots of green screen or other effects work it could be beneficial – we need to see how good the codec is first.

And for a lot of what I do the low light, low noise performance of the FX6 and FX9 are important. Exactly how the Alpha 1 stacks up against them remains to be seen. Plus I find LUTs and a dedicated CineEI mode makes shooting Log or Raw so much simpler than having to expose S-Log3 correctly when shooting run n gun.

So while the idea of the Alpha one excites me a lot. I really want to see what it’s like to actually work with before passing final judgement.

More information here on Alpha Universe: https://alphauniverse.com/

I’m not impressed by the video below. Lots of over exposed shots and some odd grading choices which is a bit disappointing. Hopefully these are issues with the video production rather than the camera.



What I don’t know:

It can read the sensor at Full Frame 8K and 30fps, so I assume there is a Full Frame downsampled 4K recording mode. But can it record Full Frame 4K without pixel binning/skipping faster than 30fps? Or does it have to go down to a lower sampling rate or crop to go above 30fps?

What will the quality of the 4K 120fps be like. Can the full 8K sensor be read at 120fps.

I assume the 16 bit 4.3K raw out will be a downsample from the 8.6K Full Frame readout. Again limited to 30fps perhaps, or a reduced scan mode for higher frame rates?

This is from Sony:

  • New 50.1-megapixel (approx., effective) full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ CMOS image sensor in combination with an upgraded BIONZ XR™ imaging processing engine with eight times more processing power[i]
  • Blackout- free continuous shooting at up to 30 frames per second[ii]
  • Fast sensor readout enables up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second[iii], double the speed of the Alpha 9 II, even during 30fps continuous shooting
  • Bright and large 0.64-type 9.44 million-dot (approx.) OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder with the world’s first[iv] refresh rate of 240 fps
  • Silent, vibration-free electronic shutter
  • World’s first[v] anti-flicker shooting with both mechanical and electronic shutter
  • Electronic shutter flash sync[vi] up to 1/200 sec. for the first time in the Alpha™ series
  • World’s fastestv mechanical shutter flash sync up to 1/400 sec.
  • 8K 30p[vii] 10-bit 4:2:0 XAVC HS video recording with 8.6K oversampling for extraordinary detail and resolution, in addition to 4K 120p[viii] 10-bit 4:2:2 movie shooting capabilities
  • Wide dynamic range of 15 stops for stills[ix] and 15+ stops for video[x]
  • Improved Real-time Eye AF (autofocus) for humans and animals, and new Real-time Eye AF for birds[xi], as well as Real-time Tracking that automatically maintains accurate focus
  • 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization for a 5.5-step[xii] shutter speed advantage
  • S-Cinetone color matrix as seen in FX9 and FX6to deliver expressive cinematic look
  • Professional workflow support with the industry’s fastest[xiii] built-in Wi-Fi, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, 1000BASE-T Ethernet and more

SAN DIEGO, CA – January 26, 2021 – Sony Electronics, a global leader in imaging sensor technology and digital imaging, has announced the arrival of the groundbreaking new full-frame mirrorless Alpha 1 camera  asserting their commitment to leading the industry with a stunning combination of innovative new features.

The most technologically advanced, innovative camera that Sony has ever released, the Alpha 1 combines high-resolution and high-speed performance at a level that has never been accomplished in the world of digital cameras.  With a brand new 50.1-megapixel full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ image sensor, up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video and much more, the Alpha 1 will allow creators to capture what they’ve never been able to before.

“We are always listening to our customers, challenging the industry to bring new innovation to the market that goes far beyond their expectations.” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “Alpha 1 breaks through all existing boundaries, setting a new bar for what creators can accomplish with a single camera. What excites us the most – more than the extensive product feature – is Alpha 1’s ability to capture that which has never been captured before. This camera unlocks a new world of creative possibilities, making the previously impossible now possible.”

The newly developed image sensor is built with integral memory and paired with an upgraded BIONZ XR imaging processing engine, making it capable of shooting 50.1-megapixel images continuously at an astounding 30fps with up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second. The Alpha 1’s shooting capabilities are further enhanced by a 9.44 million dot OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder, with a refresh rate of up to 240 fps[xiv], ensuring no black out.  Additionally, for the first time in an Alpha series camera, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video is available. The Alpha 1 is also capable of 4K 120p / 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and includes S-Cinetone color. The Alpha 1 is also packed with features that support field professionals with faster workflow, including 3.5 times faster wireless FTP transfer speed[xv] and more.

Unprecedented Resolution and Speed

Continuous Shooting at Up to 30 Frames Per Second

The Alpha 1 captures moments that would otherwise be lost thanks to its high-speed performance, providing any photographer the speed they require to capture fast-moving objects. High speed readout from the 50.1-megapixel image sensor and a large buffer memory make it possible to shoot up to 155 full-frame compressed RAW images[xvi] or 165 full-frame JPEG images[xvii] at up to 30 frames per second with the electronic shutter while maintaining full AF and AE tracking performance[xviii].

At an astonishing calculation speed of up to 120 AF/AE per second, the Alpha 1 can maintain focus with high accuracy even for fast moving subjects. It can automatically adjust exposure, even with sudden changes in brightness, with an AE response latency as low as 0.033 secondsii.

Advanced Electronic Viewfinder with the World’s Firstiv Refresh Rate of 240 fps

Complimenting the camera’s ability to capture images at an unprecedented speed, the Alpha 1 viewfinder features the world’s firstiv 240 fps refresh ratexiv, for a super-smooth display. The viewfinder does not black out when an exposure is made to offer an uninterrupted view and allow for seamless framing and tracking, even during continuous shooting. The 9.44 million-dot (approx.), 0.64 type Quad-XGA high-definition OLED display and refined optics deliver the highest resolution in its classiv. It also offers 0.90x[xix] viewfinder magnification, a 41° diagonal FOV, and a 25mm-high eyepoint for clear, low distortion viewing from corner to corner.

Advanced Autofocus

Sony continues to push the boundaries of autofocus technology with the introduction of the Alpha 1, which can easily track complex, fast-moving subjects with high precision. The camera features 759 phase detection points in a high-density focal plane phase-detection AF system cover approximately 92% of the image area – ensuring accuracy and unfailing focus in environments where focusing might otherwise be difficult.

Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous systemi, thanks to the powerful image processing engine, BIONZ XR. It ensures accurate, reliable detection, even when the subject’s face looks away. In addition to improved Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals, the Alpha 1 employs high-level subject recognition technology to provide Real-time Eye AF for birdsxi, a first in an Alpha series camera. Optimized algorithms ensure that tracking is maintained even if a sitting bird suddenly takes flight, or the framing suddenly changes[xx].

The Alpha 1 also features AI-based Real-time Tracking that automatically maintains accurate focus. A subject recognition algorithm uses color, pattern (brightness), and subject distance (depth) data to process spatial information in real time at high speed.

Silent, Vibration-free Electronic Shutter

High-speed readout from the new image sensor has made it possible to reduce rolling shutter by up to 1.5 times when shooting stills, compared to the Alpha 9 II. It also offers silent anti-flicker continuous shooting with an electronic shutter for the first timev in the world. The electronic shutter[xxi] operates silently, without mechanical noise, and is vibration-free. Stress-free continuous shooting is now possible even when shooting in challenging lighting situations with florescent or other flicker-prone types of artificial lighting. And for the first time in an Alpha camera, electronic shutter flash sync up to 1/200 sec[xxii] is possible. The advantages of the electronic shutter advantages can now come to life even when using flash for broadly expanded shooting versatility.

Dual Driven Shutter System for 1/400 Flash Sync

The Alpha 1 boasts the world’s fastest flash sync speedv of 1/400 sec. with mechanical shutter, making it even easier to capture dynamic action. In addition to a carbon fiber shutter curtain, the Alpha 1 features the newly developed dual driven shutter system utilizing spring and electromagnetic drive actuator, offering high durability and lightness at the same time.

High Resolution Shooting Enhancements

Even with this sensor’s high pixel count, the Alpha 1 offers high sensitivity with low noise, plus 15+ stops of dynamic range for video and 15 stops for stills, for smooth, natural gradations from shadows to highlights thanks to its cutting-edge processing system, throughout a wide ISO sensitivity range of 100-32,000 (expandable to 50-102,400, when shooting stills).

Additionally, the new camera features an evolved Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode that composites up to 16 full-resolution images. In this mode, the camera precisely shifts the sensor in one pixel or half-pixel increments to capture 16 separate pixel-shifted images containing a total of 796.2 million pixels of data, which are then composited into a 199 million pixel (17,280 x 11,520 pixels) image using Sony’s Imaging Edge™ desktop application. With a flash sync of up to 1/200 sec. in this mode, it is ideal for photographing architecture, art or any other still life subject with a level of detail and color accuracy that is simply stunning. 

Professional Video Quality

8K High-resolution Movie Shooting

For the first time in an Alpha camera, the Alpha 1 offers 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 XAVC HS recording with 8.6K oversampling for extraordinary resolution. Combined with Sony’s acclaimed autofocus technology, gradation and color reproduction performance, the Alpha 1 will help the user realize their creative vision with the finest detail. It’s 8K footage can also be used for flexible 4K editing during post-production.

Supporting Various Video Formats for Professionals

The Alpha 1 offers in-camera 4K recording at up to 120 frames per secondviii which allows the user to shoot up to 5X slow-motion video[xxiii]. In addition to supporting 10-bit 4:2:2 recording, this feature can be used with efficient Long GOP inter-frame compression or high-quality Intra (All-I) intra-frame compression.

The Alpha 1 features S-Cinetone, the same color matrix that produces the highly regarded FX9 and FX6 color and skin tones. It delivers natural mid-tones, plus soft colors and gorgeous highlights to meet a growing need for more expressive depth. The S-Log3 gamma curve makes it possible to achieve 15+ stops of dynamic range, while the S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.Cine color gamut settings make it easy to match Alpha 1 footage with video shot on VENICE cinema camera, FX9 and other professional cinema cameras.

Heat-dissipating Structure

A unique heat dissipating structure keeps image sensor and image processing engine temperatures within their normal operating range, preventing overheating while maintaining compact body dimensions. This makes it possible to record 8K/30p video continuously for approximately 30 minutes[xxiv].

Supporting Hand-held Shooting

A high-precision stabilization unit and gyro sensors, plus optimized image stabilization algorithms, achieve up to a 5.5-step shutter speed advantage, maximizing the quality of the high-resolution images derived from the camera’s 50.1-megapixel sensor. The Alpha 1 also features an Active Mode[xxv] that offers outstanding stabilization for handheld movie shooting. When using Sony’s desktop applications Catalyst Browse or Catalyst Prepare[xxvi] for post-production, an accurate image stabilization function is available which utilizes metadata generated by camera’s built-in gyro.

Other features that the Alpha 1 offers include; 16-bit RAW output[xxvii] to an external recorder[xxviii] via HDMI for maximum post-production flexibility, a digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe for clearer audio recordings from a compatible Sony external microphone, 5.8K oversampled full pixel readout without pixel binning for high-resolution 4K movies in Super 35mm mode and more.

Enhanced Workflow with Network Technologies including Connectivity to 5G Compatible Devices

The Alpha 1 has been designed and configured to support photo and video journalists and sports shooters who need to deliver stills or movies as quickly as possible with advanced connectivity options. It offers several features for fast, reliable file transfers. Industry’s fastestxiii built-in wireless LAN allows communication on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz[xxix] bands with dual antennas to ensure reliable communications. 5 GHz includes 2×2 MIMO support (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) offering 3.5 times faster wireless FTP transfer speed than the Alpha 9 II – a notable advantage for news and sports shooters who need to deliver with reliable speed. There is also a provided USB Type-C® connector to support fast data transfer when connected to a 5G mmWave compatible device such as Sony’s Xperia PRO and makes high-speed PC Remote (tethered) data transfer available for smooth handling of large image files. The Alpha 1 also has a built-in 1000BASE-T LAN connector for high-speed, stable data transfers, including remote shooting. FTPS (File Transfer over SSL/TLS) is supported, allowing SSL or TLS encryption for increased data security.

In addition to compressed and uncompressed RAW, the Alpha 1 includes efficient lossless compression with no quality degradation, Lossless Compressed RAW. There is also a new “Light” JPEG/HEIF image quality setting that results in smaller files than the “Standard” setting, allowing faster deliver for news and sports photographers who depend on speed. Along with a versatile range of RAW and JPEG formats, the Alpha 1 includes the HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) format for smooth 10-bit gradations that provide more realistic reproduction of skies and portrait subjects where subtle, natural gradation is essential. Images shot on the Alpha 1 can be trimmed in-camera to a desired aspect ratio, size, or position for versatile usage.

The Alpha 1 is also compatible with a variety of apps, add-ons and tools. With Imaging Edge Mobile and Imaging Edge Desktop[xxx], professionals can easily transfer RAW files and files that use lossless compression and remotely control Touch Tracking and Touch Focus for convenient AF operation. The Transfer & Tagging add-on (Ver. 1.3 or later) can automatically covert voice memos attached to image files to text captions or transfer the files to an FTP server from a mobile device. Desktop applications Catalyst Browse/Catalyst Preparexxvi allow professionals to browse and manage video clips shot by Sony’s camera. In addition, the Remote Camera Tool[xxxi] can remotely change camera settings and shoot from a computer connected via LAN cable and feature a number of refinements for the Alpha 1: faster transfer, touch response, dual slot and HEIF support, and more.

Reliable and Easy Operability

Professional users need more than just refined features and performance. They also need the reliability and durability demanded of any professional tool. The Alpha 1 has two media slots that both support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards, as well as new CFexpress Type A cards for higher overall capacity and faster read/write speeds. It also features a durable magnesium alloy chassis, long battery life with the Z-battery which can be extended using the optional VG-C4EM Vertical Grip (sold separately), an improved dust removal feature, shutter close function on power-off? to protect image sensor, plus dust and moisture resistance[xxxii] that maximizes reliability in challenging environments. It includes a durable, reliable HDMI Type-A connector, and USB PD (Power Delivery) support, allowing higher power to be supplied from an external source so that users can record for extended periods with minimal internal battery usage.

A revised menu structure provides easier navigation, and touch-responsive menu operation offers fast, more intuitive control with Touch Focus and Touch Tracking on its 3.0 type 1.44 million-dot (approx.) LCD monitor. For easy customization, a subset of the camera’s shooting settings now changes according to the selected shooting mode, making it easier than ever to use different aperture, shutter speed and other settings for shooting stills and movies.

Pricing and Availability

The Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable-Lens Camera will be available in March 2021 for approximately $6,500 USD and $8,500 CAD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

Exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new camera and Sony’s other imaging products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony ? – Alpha brand cameras.

For detailed coverage on the new product on Alpha Universe, please visit this LINK.

The new content will also be posted directly at the Sony Photo Gallery.

For detailed product information, please visit:

Additionally, a product launch video focused on the Alpha 1 can be found at this LINK.

###

[i] Compared to the BIONZ X imaging processing engine.

[ii] “Hi+” continuous shooting mode. In focus modes other than AF-C, effective at 1/125 sec. or higher shutter speed. In AF-C mode, effective at 1/250 sec. or higher shutter speed, and the maximum continuous frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. 20 fps max. when shooting Uncompressed or Lossless compressed RAW.

[iii] At shutter speeds of 1/125 sec. or higher. The number of AF calculations will depend on the lens used.

[iv] As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among full-frame mirrorless cameras.

[v] As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among full-frame interchangeable-lens digital still cameras.

[vi] Up to 1/200 sec. Synchronization via the sync terminal is not available for electronic shutter.

[vii] [APS-C S35 Shooting] is fixed [Off] when shooting 4K 120p and 8K movies.

[viii] 10% image crop.

[ix] Sony internal tests.

[x] When recording with S-Log3. Sony internal tests.

[xi] Still images only.

[xii] CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off.

[xiii] As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among interchangeable-lens digital still cameras.

[xiv] Field of view is fixed at 33° and resolution is UXGA when selecting frame rate at 240 fps.

[xv] 3.5 times faster when compared against the Alpha 9 II.

[xvi] “Hi+” continuous shooting mode, compressed RAW, CFexpress Type A memory card. Sony tests.

[xvii] “Hi+” continuous shooting mode, CFexpress Type A memory card. Sony tests.

[xviii] At 20 frames per second, users can shoot up to 238 full-frame compressed RAW images or 400 full-frame JPEG images.

[xix] 50mm lens, infinity, -1m-1 diopter.

[xx] Accurate focus may not be achieved with certain subjects in certain situations.

[xxi] Shutter speed slower than 0.5 sec. cannot be set while continuous shooting. Tracking performance and max. aperture differs by settings and lenses.

[xxii] Up to 1/200 sec. Synchronization via the sync terminal is not available for electronic shutter.

[xxiii] Post-production editing and S&Q mode recording required. Data must be recorded to a CFexpress Type A memory card when the frame rate is 120 (100) fps or higher.

[xxiv] Sony internal tests with [Auto Power OFF Temp.] set to [High].

[xxv] Active Mode is not available for 8K recording.

[xxvi] Catalyst Browse™ version 2020.1 or later, Catalyst Prepare version 2020.1 or later are required.

[xxvii] 8K is not applicable.

[xxviii] Compatible recorders to be announced.

[xxix] 5 GHz communication may be restricted in some countries and regions.

[xxx] The Imaging Edge (Remote/Viewer/Edit) desktop application Ver. 3.1 or later is required for compositing. 

[xxxi] Remote Camera Tool version 2.3 or later is required.

[xxxii] Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and water resistant.

Sony Launches Airpeak Drone – Designed to carry Alpha sized cameras.

slide_aid_01-600x338 Sony Launches Airpeak Drone - Designed to carry Alpha sized cameras.
Sony Airpeak Drone

 

Sony has launched an entirely new division called Airpeak. Airpeak have produced a large drone that can carry an Alpha sized camera. They claim that this is the smallest drone capable of carrying an Alpha sized camera. It’s unknown at this time whether the Airpeak division will purely focus on larger drones capable of carrying non integrated cameras or whether they will also produce smaller drones with integral cameras. It would certainly make sense to leverage Sony’s sensor expertise by creating dedicated cameras for drones and then drones to carry those cameras. 

The drone market is going to be a tough one to make inroads into. There are already a couple of very well regarded drone manufacturers making some great drones such as the DJI inspire or Mavic Pro. But most of these are small and cannot carry larger external cameras. However the cameras that these drones are equipped with can deliver very high quality images – and they continue to get better and better. The use of larger drones for video applications is more specialist, however globally it is a large market. Whether Sony can compete in the more specialist area of larger drones that carry heavier payloads is yet to be seen. I hope the succeed.

One thing I intend to do in the next few years as the Sun enters the more active phase of it’s 11 year solar cycle is to shoot the Aurora from a drone and a camera like the A7S III and a larger, stable drone would be perfect. But there is no indication of pricing yet and a drone of this size won’t be cheap. So unless I decide to do a lot more drone work than I do already, perhaps it will be better to hire someone with the right kit. But that’s not as much fun as doing it yourself!

For more information on Airpeak do take a look at their website. There is already some impressive footage of it being used to shoot a Vision-S car on a test track.

Sony Airpeak Website.

 

There Is No Such Thing As A “12G” SDI Cable.

The way the coax cables used for SDI works is very different to the way an HDMI cable works. HDMI cables are indeed constructed quite differently between early HDMI 1.0 – 1.4 classes and the more recent 2.0+ classes. So with HDMI you will find that an old, early version HDMI cable won’t work with the latest standards.

SDI cables are nothing fancy.

SDI uses nothing more sophisticated than a single core coax cable that is no different in it’s basic design, construction and mode of operation to an ordinary TV aerial down lead. It is a very simple type of cable and really nothing fancy.

Frequency matters.

The SDI signal is very high frequency; in effect it is a radio signal. From a cabling point of view the ONLY difference between the original SDI standard and the latest standards is the frequency. The way the cable works is no different between the original SDI standard and the latest and a camera or monitor has no way of telling or knowing what type of cable you are using.

Frequency is important because the higher the frequency, the more lossy ANY coax cable will become (leaky kind of describes what’s going on). Low quality cable – more signal leaks out, high quality cable less leaks out so the signal will go further.

But even the very earliest SDI cables were normally made using good quality very low loss coax. These original SDI cables are perfectly capable of carrying the higher frequencies used by 12G SDI. BUT over very long lengths there will be more loss at 12G than at 1.5G.  

It’s not the “G” that counts, it’s the quality.

So really when looking for SDI cables, the question isn’t – “is it 12G” the question should be “what are the cable losses” or more simply “is it a good quality cable”. There are plenty of original SDI cables that can be used at 50m at 12G without issue. At the same time I have also seen cables marketed as “12G” that are nowhere near as well screened, with much higher losses, that barely work at 10m.

Just as important as the cable losses is the construction. Have the connectors been fitted correctly? Are the connectors correctly sized for the cable that’s being used, has the crimping or soldering been done well? Most coax cable failures are due to poor connector assembly or the use of low-quality connectors.

Impedance Matter.

One other thing to watch for is the cable impedance. SDI cables should be made using 75 ohm impedance cable and connectors. Radio cables for radio communications normally use 50 ohm cables and connectors and the two are not really compatible. But often cheaper cables sold for SDI and video applications may be made using 50 ohm parts as often these are cheaper. These cables will fit and more often than not they appear to work. BUT the pins in the BNC plugs are a different size and this can result in intermittent connections and over time can even damage the connectors on cameras and monitors etc. So do make sure your cables really are 75 ohm.

In the real world:

For most shorter cables, up to 5m cable losses are rarely an issue unless the cable is of particularly low quality or badly made. For between 5m and 10m you should avoid the very thin coax cables as the losses become more significant. Above 10m use only low loss cables with good quality screening. A cable sold as a “12G” cable should indicate good quality low loss cable, but it is not a guarantee. And the vast majority of well-constructed normal SDI cables will work just as well unless you want extremely long runs in which case you need ultra-low loss cable.

FX6 Gets NetFlix Approval

FX6_side_44062_02-Mid FX6 Gets NetFlix Approval
Sony ILME FX6 gets Netflix approval.

 

The Sony FX6 joins the FX9 on the Netflix approved list. This makes the FX6 the 10th camera to be added to the list of approved Sony cameras.

Here’s the official list.

Interestingly the FX6 is specifically noted as NOT approved for anamorphic capture. I suspect this is down to the fact that this is a 4K sensor with no oversampling. While the PXW-FX9 is not listed as approved for anamorphic (only Venice is specifically approved) it does not have the anamorphic exclusion that the FX6 has. Perhaps the FX9 can be used on a case by case basis for anamorphic thanks to it’s 6K oversampling when using the Full Frame 6K scan mode?

Anyway, this is more good news for Sony film makers and shooters.

Want to know more about the FX6 – Click here.

Want to know more about the FX9 – Click here.

AKM Factory Fire – Will It Cause Supply ProBlems?

I wouldn’t normally write about something like this, a fire in a factory in Japan. But this particular factory was one of the worlds main sources of professional analog to digital converter chips used in all sorts of pro and high end audio gear as well as TCXO (temperature controlled crystal oscillators) used to control micro processors, timing circuits and many other devices. The audio chips, many of which were unique AKM designs  convert things like the analog audio from a microphone into the digital signal that a modern camcorder or audio recorder then records.  

The massive fire at the AKM factory burned for 84 hours and destroyed the factory at the end of October. It’s anticipated that it will take at least 6 months to get the factory running again. So far everyone is staying fairly tight lipped about the fire and it’s knock on effects and it’s not known who exactly depends on the AKM chips. But they are world leaders in this field and if you do use their audio chips it’s not simply a case of buying another chip from somewhere else as this would require the redesign of many circuit boards or other components.

Only time will tell whether this is really significant or not, but there are a lot of murmurs suggesting it could be a big problem for a lot of manufacturers of pro audio and video equipment.

https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/business/akm-factory-fire-shakes-up-pro-audio-industry

Look after Your Batteries In Lockdown.

I received this timely reminder from the guys at Pag Batteries and it contains important information even if you don’t have one of Pag’s excellent batteries. The main one being that you should not store lithium batteries full charged.

2074787f-47de-45d3-9ece-3b97aee4f155 Look after Your Batteries In Lockdown.

If you are currently unable to work as a result of the global pandemic, then you need to make sure that your Li-Ion camera batteries are in good health when it becomes possible to return to work.
 
Batteries naturally self-discharge over time. If their state-of-charge is less than 10% before an extended period of inactivity, they could become difficult for you to recover.
 
It is also undesirable for batteries to be 100% charged for storage as this can damage the cells and lead to a shorter overall life.
 
PAG recommends that you charge your Li-Ion batteries to 50% (anywhere between 20% and 80% is desirable) prior to long term storage of more than 2 weeks. PAGlink batteries should also be in an unlinked state during this period.
 
 
PAGlink Sleep Mode for Storage
 
PAGlink Batteries can be put into Sleep Mode for long term storage, using the battery display menu system. It shuts down the internal electronics and greatly reduces battery self-discharge. The battery can be woken-up with 2 presses of the display button.
 
Please refer to Section 6 of the User Guide for PAGlink Batteries via the links below:
 
 
 
PAGlink Gold Mount Batteries have an automatic sleep mode feature that initiates after 2 weeks of inactivity.
 
To maintain good battery capacity, it is beneficial to cycle batteries every 6 weeks (discharge followed by a full-charge).
 
If you have any queries regarding your PAG batteries, Sleep Mode and storage then please contact support via email: support@paguk.com
 
 
PAG would like to wish you all good health and a safe return to work when that day finally arrives.
 
The PAG team.

Streaming and Live Feeds.

With some difficult times ahead and the need for most of us to minimise contact with others there has never been a greater need for streaming and online video services that now.

I’m setting up some streaming gear in my home office so that I can do some presentations and online workshops over the coming weeks.

I am not an expert on this and although I did recently buy a hardware RTMP streaming encoder, like many of us I didn’t have a good setup for live feeds and streaming.

So like so many people I tried to buy a Blackmagic Design Atem, which is a low cost all in one switcher and streaming device. But guess what? They are out of stock everywhere with no word on when more will become available. So I have had to look at other options.

The good news is that there are many options. There is always your mobile phone, but I want to be able to feed several sources including camera feeds, the feed from my laptop and the video output from a video card. 

OBS to the rescue!

The good news is that there is a great piece of open source software called OBS – Open Broadcast System and the Open Broadcast Studio streaming software.

OBSDemoApp2321 Streaming and Live Feeds.
Open Broadcast Studio Software.

 

OBS is s great piece of software that can convert almost any video source connected to a computer into a live stream that can be sent to most platforms including Facebook and YouTube etc. If the computer is powerful enough it can switch between different camera sources and audio sources. If you follow the tutorials on the OBS website it’s pretty quick and easy to get it up and running.

So how am I getting video into the laptop that’s running OBS? I already had a Blackmagic Mini Recorder which is an HDMI and SDI to thunderbolt input adapter and I shall be using this to feed the computer. There are many other options but the BM Mini Recorders are really cheap and most dealers stock them as well as Amazon. it’s HD only but for this I really don’t need 4K or UHD.

Blackmagic-mini-recorder Streaming and Live Feeds.
Blackmagic Mini Recorder HDMI and SDI to thunderbolt input adapter.

 

Taking things a step further I also have both an Atomos Sumo and an Atomos Shogun 7. Both of these monitor/recorders have the ability to act as a 4 channel vision switcher. The great thing about these compared to the Blackmagic Atem is that you can see all your sources on a single screen and you simply touch on the source that you wish to go live. A red box appears around that source and it’s output from the device. 

atomos_atomsumo19_on_set_in_studio_4kp60_1576110181000_1334246-e1584607746226 Streaming and Live Feeds.
The Atomos Sumo and the Shogun 7 can both act as 4 input vision switchers.

 

So now I have the ability to stream a feed via OBS from the SDI or HDMI input on the Blackmagic Mini Recorder, fed from one of 4 sources switched by the Atomos Sumo or Shogun 7. A nice little micro studio setup. My sources will be my FS5 and FX9. I can use my Shogun as a video player. For workflow demos I will use another laptop or my main edit machine feeding the video output from DaVinci Resolve via a Blackmagic Mini Monitor which is similar to the mini recorder but the mini monitor is an output device with SDI and HDMI outputs. The final source will be the HDMI output of the edit computer so you can see the desktop.

Don’t forget audio. You can probably get away with very low quality video to get many messages across. But if the audio is hard to hear or difficult to understand then people won’t want to watch your stream. I’m going to be feeding a lavalier (tie clip) mic directly into the computer and OBS.

I think really my main reason for writing this was really to show that many of us probably already have most of the tools needed to put together a small streaming package. Perhaps you can offer this as a service to clients that need to now think about online training or meetings. I was lucky enough to have already had all the items listed in this article, the only extras I have had to but are an extra thunderbolt cable as I only had one. But even if you don’t have a Sumo or Shogun 7 you can still use OBS to switch between the camera on your laptop and any other external inputs. The OBS software is free and very powerful and this really is the keystone to making this all work.

I will be starting a number of online seminars and sessions in the coming weeks. I do have some tutorial videos that I need to finish editing first, but once that’s done expect to see lots of interesting online content from me.  Do let me know what topics you would like to see covered and subject to a little bit of sponsorship I’ll see what I can do.

Stay well people. This will pass and then we can all get back on with life again.