Category Archives: cinematography

Cinegear Expo LA 2022

cingear-bt-1024x432 Cinegear Expo LA 2022

Cinegear expo will soon be upon us, it’s June 9th to June 11th at the LA Convention Center.  I will be attending the show and helping out Bright Tangerine on booth 480. So do drop by to see their latest products, but also come by for a chat or to ask any questions you have about using Sony cameras in the field or anything else you might need some help with. Sony will also of course have a booth and they will have their own experts on hand, but it is always good to catch up with friends and readers of the blog.

Camera Test Charts To Print At Home

Screenshot-2022-05-16-at-11.11.38-1024x622 Camera Test Charts To Print At HomeWhen testing and evaluating a camera, whether that’s a digital photo camera, video camera or digital cinema camera it is always useful to have a test chart or 2 (or more). While printing a chart at home isn’t always the best way to go, comercial charts can be very expensive to buy. So below is a link to an ISO 12233 chart, a Zone Plate chart and a Siemens Star chart that you can download  for free and print at home. You will need a good printer and good quality photo paper for the best results. 

For the ISO 12233 chart I divide this into quarters, print each 1/4 and then join them back together to make a larger chart.

The zone plate and siemens charts should be printed as large as possible, but in use they would not fill the frame, perhaps only a small part of the frame depending on the resolution of the camera you are evaluating.

I have not included any color charts or grey scale charts as it will be extremely difficult to know whether the colors or shades of grey your printer produces are actually correct, making the chart invalid.

Click on the green link or the images below:

Click here for ISO 12233 Test Chart as at the top of this page.

Zone-Small-150x150 Camera Test Charts To Print At Home
Zone plate derived from Imatest Software. Click on the image to go to full size file.
Siemens-100-chart-150x150 Camera Test Charts To Print At Home
Siemens 100 radial star chart – click on the image to go to the full size file.

Tokina 16-28mm t3.0 Cine Zoom Review.

DSC_0334-copy-600x450 Tokina 16-28mm t3.0 Cine Zoom Review.

After being lucky enough to have shot with the really rather beautiful looking Tokina Vista prime lenses with Sony’s Venice II (see here), I decided to take a look at the generation 2 Tokina 16-28mm wide angle cine zoom. This lens is available in a variety of mounts including PL, E-Mount and many others and is really very good value for the money.

The lens is parfocal, has minimal breathing and minimal chromatic aberration.  To try it out, I took a PL mount sample  to Windsor to test it out with my FX9 using a Vocas PL E-Mount to PL adapter. 

I often find it difficult to write about lenses because when a lens performs well, there is little to write about without being gushy. The 16-28mm from Tokina does what it should, and it does it well. I didn’t find any particular flaws in the images from the lens and overall, they look really good. At 16mm on a full frame camera the lens gives a very wide field of view with very minimal distortion. It remains sharp into the corners and there is no significant vignetting.

It is well constructed and the 300 (ish) degree of travel focus ring has a very nice weight and feel to it. The zoom ring is a bit heavier but this prevents the zoom moving when you don’t want it to.

A few people have commented about why use a larger bulkier lens like the Tokina over a more compact and lighter photo lens. I think a lot depends on the type of project you are working on. Being realistic, if you are running around on your own, trying to quickly grab footage on a lower budget production then a photo lens with auto focus might be the better option. But when you need maximum control over focus a proper mechanical long travel focus ring is what you want. If you want to zoom during the shot, the lens needs to be parfocal. So for a more controlled shoot, perhaps for drama or other scripted productions a true cine lens like this is often preferable.  so, it’s a case of picking the right lens for the type of production you are shooting. The Tokina 16-28mm t3.0 cine zoom is absolutely worth looking at for any movie style wide angle applications. 

See the video below for some example footage and a closer look at the lens.

 

A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses

I was recently given the opportunity shoot some test footage with a Sony Venice II.  A camera like Venice needs good glass, so I put out some feelers to see what lenses I could get for the shoot. I was offered the use of a set of the Tokina Vista primes, lenses I have been wanting to try for some time, so this was the perfect opportunity to try these interesting lenses on Sony’s newest cinema camera.

DSC_0298-600x450 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
Shooting at Tower Bridge London with the Tokina Vista 135mm and Venice 2



Lets cut straight to the point: I love these lenses and I loved using them with the Venice 2.

I guess I had some concerns at first over choosing the Tokina Vista’s. Lets face it, Tokina are not the first brand that springs into most peoples minds when you are thinking about high quality PL cinema lenses. But I had been hearing nothing other than good things about them and when I had played with them at a couple of different trade shows, they did always look nice.

There are currently 8 lenses in the Vista range starting at the very wide 18mm and going up to 135mm. All are t1.5, are beautifully constructed with all metal bodies. The focus and aperture rings (with approx 300 degrees of travel) are in the same position on every lens in the set, so lens swaps are easy. The 9 bladed iris works well to give pleasing smooth bokeh.

DSC_0299-600x450 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
The Tokina Vista 135mm t1.5 on a Venice 2

 

Many manufacturers claim that their lenses have minimal breathing and this is definitely true of the Tokina Vista. Focussing from near to far resulted in only a very small change of the image size on all the lenses I tried. The breathing is truly minimal.

As I was shooting using the Venice 2’s 8.2K 17:9 mode this was a good test of the lenses resolution and sharpness. In the video at the bottom of the page you will see a couple of shots where I added a slow post production zoom in to the image, reaching 2x magnification. If you watch the video in 4K you won’t see any appreciable drop in image quality during the zoom in where I am in effect expanding the original 8.2K pixel image by 200%. This to me is a clear indication that these lenses are plenty good enough for 8K capture.

wide-shot-2_1.2.4 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
Wide shot, taken at 8.2K with the 18mm Tokina Vista.
mid-shot-2a_1.2.2 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
A crop from the frame above. Even in 4K this image looks great.

 

But, at the same time I also felt that the lenses were not excessively sharp. There is a “roundness” to the images from these lenses that I really like. The Vista’s are also very slightly warm looking and this combined with the roundness of the image and very slight propensity to flare a little gives them a very appealing look. I guess I could describe it as a vintage look, but that might make them sound old fashioned. These are not old fashioned lenses, these are clearly modern, high performance lenses. But the images they deliver has a beautiful, almost old school look that I found to be very appealing.

wide-shot-1_1.6.2 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
The Tokina Vistas and Venice 2 deliver great colours and skin tones.
Mid-shot1_1.6.3 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
This is a crop from the above image. When you have 8.2K of pixels and a high resolution lens its very easy to reframe in post production, even when delivering in 4K.



Faces and skin tones looked really nice, of course this is a combination of both a great camera and great lenses, but the colour reproduction from the combination of Venice 2 and the Tokina Vistas was very pleasing.

night-singer_1.30.2 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
At t1.5 the Tokina Vista’s are great for low light and Venice at 3200 ISO looks great.


I did have a play with most of the lenses in the set and they all appeared to perform similarly. But for the video shoot in London I focussed on the 18mm, 40mm and 135mm lenses. 

The 18mm is very wide. It is not truly rectilinear, there is some barrel distortion, but nothing too severe. You do have to remember that this is a t1.5 lens and it’s not easy to produce very fast, very wide lenses for full frame. The 46.7mm image circle of all the Vista lenses means that they comfortably cover the full frame Venice sensor and even at 18mm there is barely any light fall off or vignetting at the edges of the frame.

One of the other things that really impressed me with all the Vista’s was the lack of chromatic aberration. Even when shooting very high contrast, backlit edges or specular reflections it was hard to spot any chromatic aberration. There is not a single shot amongst all of the material that I shot where I noticed anything nasty.

Trafalgar-day_1.27.1 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
Trafalgar Square, shot with the 18mm Vista. You can see that there is some barrel distortion, but it’s pretty good for an 18mm t1.5 lens.

 

The only negative I can really find about the 18mm is the size and bulk. This is a big and heavy lens. All the Vista have the same external diameter of 114mm. The 18mm is no different in that regard. But the 18mm is one of the longest lenses in the set, it’s 180mm from front to back. And it weighs almost 2.7Kg. A big part of the weight probably comes from the bulbous front element of the lens – which you will be glad to know does not protrude beyond the end of the lens housing, giving it some protection from accidental damage.

When you have an 8K camera, wide angle lenses can be used to capture a very wide frame that can then be cropped into to re-frame in post, so having that maximum t1.5 aperture which helps maintain a shallow DoF is important. 

lanterns1_1.8.2 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
London’s China Town, shot with the 40mm Tokina Vista



The 40mm lens is also really nice. 40mm is an interesting focal length, a shade longer than 35mm and wider than 50mm. I found it to be a very nice focal length for a lot of different types of shots with the Venice Full Frame sensor.  At 2.24kg it is a much lighter lens than the 18mm and a fair bit shorter at 160mm. Once again extremely small amount of breathing and near total lack of chromatic aberrations makes this a lovely lens to shoot with. When shooting high contrast point light sources such as street lights at night there is a bit of circular flare around the light source, but I find this to be quite pleasing. Strong light sources just out of frame can lead to some minor veiling flare on all the lenses in the set, but this is no worse than seen with most other similar quality lenses and the lens coatings give the flare a slight warmth that again, I find very appealing.

tower-bridge_1.3.2 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses

The 135mm lens doesn’t disappoint either, shooting at 135mm and t1.5 delivers a very narrow depth of field.  As expected this is one of the larger lenses in the set. It’s 187mm long so a bit shorter than the 18mm but it is heavier with the PL mount version coming in very close to 3kg. There isn’t much more I can say about this lens that I haven’t covered with the other lenses, extremely minimal breathing, near zero chromatic aberration etc all make for a great image. The consistent look across all the lenses means this too shares that well rounded not too clinical and very slight warmth that makes these all of these lenses very appealing.

night-busses_1.31.1 A Review of the Tokina Vista Prime Lenses
Tokina Vista 40mm on Venice 2 at 3200 ISO. I really like the way the Vistas flare.



The Tokina Vista’s are not re-housed photo lenses, they were designed specifically for digital cinematography. They are available in a range of mounts including PL, Canon EF, MFT, LPL and Sony E. I had heard good things about them from other users before I tried them and now I have had a chance to shoot with them I have to say that they are lenses that I will want to use again. Perhaps in particular when the project would benefit from a slight vintage or romantic look without being soft and without giving up any resolution. For the money they are great looking lenses and would recommend anyone that hasn’t tried them to give them a go.

Timecode doesn’t synchronise anything!!!

There seems to be a huge misunderstanding about what timecode is and what timecode can do. I lay most of the blame for this on manufactures that make claims such as “Our Timecode Gadget Will Keep Your Cameras in Sync” or “by connecting our wireless time code device to both your audio recorder and camera everything will remain in perfect sync”. These claims are almost never actually true.

What is “Sync”.

First we have to consider what we mean when we talk about “sync” or synchronisation.  A dictionary definition would be something like “the operation or activity of two or more things at the same time or rate.” For film and video applications if we are talking about 2 cameras they would be said to be in sync when both start recording each frame that they record at exactly the same moment in time and then over any period of time they record exactly the same number of frames, each frame starting and ending at precisely the same moment.

What is “Timecode”.

Next we have to consider what time code is. Timecode is a numerical value that is attached to each frame of a video or an audio recording in an audio device to give it a time value in hours, minutes, seconds, frames. It is used to identify individual frames and each frame must have a unique numerical value. Each individual successive frames timecode value MUST be “1” greater than the frame before (I’m ignoring drop frame for the sake of clarity here). A normal timecode stream does not feature any form of sync pulse or sync control, it is just a number value.

Controlling the “Frame Rate”.


And now we have to consider what controls the frame rate that a camera or recorder records at. The frame rate the camera records at is governed by the cameras internal sync or frame clock. This is normally a  circuit controlled by a crystal oscillator. It’s worth noting that these circuits can be affected by heat and at different temperatures there may be very slight variations in the frequency of the sync clock. Also this clock starts when you turn the camera on, so the exact starting moment of the sync clock depends on the exact moment the camera is switched on. If you were to randomly turn on a bunch of cameras their sync clocks would all be running out of sync. Even if you could press the record button on each camera at exactly the same moment, each would start recording the first frame at a very slightly different moment in time depending on where in the frame rate cycle the sync clock of each camera is. In higher end cameras there is often a way to externally control the sync clock via an input called “Genlock”.  Applying a synchronisation signal to the cameras Genlock input will pull the cameras sync clock into precise sync with the sync signal and then hold it in sync. 

And the issue is………..

Timecode doesn’t perform a sync function. To SYNCHRONISE two cameras or a camera and audio recorder you need a genlock sync signal and timecode isn’t a sync signal, timecode is just a frame count  number. So timecode cannot synchronise 2 devices. The camera’s sync/frame clock might be running at a very slightly different frame rate to the clock of the source of the time code. When feeding timecode to a camera the camera might already be part way through a frame when the timecode value for that frame arrives, making it too late to be added, so there will be an unavoidable offset. Across multiple cameras this offset will vary, so it is completely normal to have a +/- 2 frame (sometimes more) offset amongst several cameras at the start of each recording.

And once you start to record the problems can get even worse…

If the camera’s frame clock is running slightly faster than the clock of the TC source then perhaps the camera might record 500 frames but only receive 498 timecode values – So what happens for the 2 extra frames the camera records in this time? The answer is the camera will give each frame in the sequence a unique numerical value that increments by 1, so the extra frames will have the necessary 2 additional TC values. And as a result the TC in the camera at the end of the clip will be an additional 2 frames different to that of the TC source. The TC from the source and the TC from the camera won’t exactly match, they won’t be in sync or “two or more things at the same time or rate”, they will be different.

The longer the clip that you record, the greater these errors become as the camera and TC source drift further apart.

Before you press record on the camera, the cameras TC clock will follow the external TC input. But as soon as you press record, every recorded  frame MUST have a unique new numerical value 1 greater than the previous frame, regardless of what value is on the external TC input. So the cameras TC clock will count the frames recorded. And the number of frames recorded is governed by the camera sync/frame clock, NOT the external TC.  

So in reality the ONLY way to truly synchronise the timecode across multiple cameras or audio devices is to use a sync clock connected to the  GENLOCK input of each device.

Connecting an external TC source to a cameras TC input is likely to be more result in much closer TC values for the audio recorder and camera(s) than no connection at all. But don’t be surprised if you see small 1 or 2 frame errors at the start of clips and possibly much larger errors at the ends of clips, these errors are expected and normal. If you can’t genlock everything with a proper sync signal, a better way to do it is to use the camera as the TC source and feed the TC from the camera to the audio recorder. Audio recorders don’t record in frames, they just lay the TC values alongside the audio, as an audio recorder doesn’t need to count frames the TC values will always be in the right place in the audio file to match the cameras TC frame count. 

CineEI is not the same as conventional shooting.

I’ve covered this many, many times before, but so many people still struggle to get their head around using the CineEI mode in a Sony camera.

Shooting using CineEI is a very different process to conventional shooting. The first thing to understand about CineEI and Log is that the number one objective is to get the best possible image quality and this can only be achieved by recording at the cameras base sensitivity. If you add in camera gain you add noise and reduce the dynamic range that can be recorded, so you always need to record at the cameras base sensitivity for the best possible “negative” or captured image.

Sony call their system CineEI. On an Arri camera the only way to shoot is using Exposure Indexes and it’s the same with Red, Canon and almost every other digital cinema camera. You record at the cameras base sensitivity.

It is assumed that when using CineEI that you will control the light levels in your shots to levels suitable for the recording ISO of the camera, again it’s all about getting the best possible image quality.

Then changing the EI allows you to tailor where the middle of your exposure range is and the balance between more highlight/less shadow or less highlight/more shadow detail in the captured image. On a bright high contrast exterior you might want more highlight range, while on a dark moody night scene you might want more shadow range.

EI is NOT the same as ISO.

ISO= The cameras sensitivity to light.
EI = Exposure Index.

Most cine film stocks had both an ISO rating, where the ISO was the laboratory measured sensitivity and an Exposure Index which was the recommended value to use in a light meter to obtain the best results in a typical practical filming situation. More often than not the ISO and EI values were slightly different.

EI is an exposure rating, not a sensitivity rating. EI is the number you would put into a light meter for the best exposure for the type of scene you are shooting or it is the exposure value of the LUT that you are monitoring with. The EI that you use depends on the desired shadow/highlight range and it is more often than not unwise to raise the EI in a low light situation.


A higher EI than the base ISO will result in images with less shadow range, more highlight range and more noise. This is not what you normally want when shooting darker scenes, you normally want less noise, more shadow range. So with CineEI, you would normally try to shoot a darker, moody scene with an EI lower than the base ISO.

Screenshot-2022-02-11-at-10.15.43-600x270 CineEI is not the same as conventional shooting.
In this chart we can see how at 800 EI there is 6 stops of over exposure range and 9 stops of under. At 1600 EI there will be 7 stops of over range and 8 stops of under and the image will also be twice as noisy. At 400 EI there are 5 stops over and 10 stops under and the noise will be halved.



This goes completely against most peoples conventional exposure thinking. But the CineEI mode and log are not conventional and require a completely different approach if you really want to achieve the best possible results. If you find the images are too dark when the EI value matches the recording base ISO, then you need to add light or use a faster lens. Raising the EI to compensate is likely to create more problems than it will fix. It might brighten the image in the viewfinder, making you think all is OK, but you won’t see the extra noise and grain that will be in the final images once you have raised your levels in post production on a small viewfinder screen. Using a higher EI and not paying attention could result in you stopping down a touch to protect some blown out highlight or to tweak the exposure when this is probably the last thing you want to do.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen people cranking up the EI to a high value thinking this is how you should shoot a darker scene only to discover they can’t then make it look good in post production. The CineEI mode on these cameras is deliberately kept separate from the conventional “custom” or “SDR” mode to help people understand that this is something different. And it really does need to be treated differently and you really do need to re-learn how you think about exposure.

The CineEI mode in some regards emulates how you would shoot with a film camera. You have a single film stock with a fixed sensitivity (the base ISO). Then you have the option to expose that stock brighter (using a lower EI) for less grain, more shadow detail, less highlight range or expose darker (using a higher EI) more grain, less shadow detail, more highlight range. Just as you would do with a film camera.

Should You Use In Camera Noise Reduction Or Not?

This is another common question on many user groups. It comes up time and time again. But really there is no one clear cut answer. In a perfect world we would never need to add any noise reduction, but we don’t live and shoot in a perfect world. Often a camera might be a little noisy or you may be shooting with a lot less light than you would really like, so in camera NR might need to be considered.

You need to consider carefully whether you should use in camera NR or not. There will be some cases where you want in camera NR and other times when you don’t.

Post Production NR.
An important consideration is that adding post production NR on top of in-camera NR is never the best route to go down. NR on top of NR will often produce ugly blocky artefacts. If you ever want to add NR in post production it is almost always better not to also add in camera NR. Post production NR has many advantages as you can more precisely control the type and amount you add depending on what the shot needs. When using proper grading software such as DaVinci Resolve you can use power windows or masks to only add NR to the parts of the image that need it.

Before someone else points it out I will add here that it is almost always impossible to turn off all in camera NR. There will almost certainly be some NR added at the sensor that you can not turn off. In addition most recording codecs will apply some noise reduction to avoid wasting data recording the noise, again this can’t be turned off. Generally higher bit rate, less compressed codecs apply less NR. What I am talking about here is the additional NR that can be set to differing levels within the cameras settings that is in addition to the NR that occurs at the sensor or in the codec.

Almost every NR process, as well as reducing the visibility of noise will introduce other image artefacts. Most NR process work by taking an average value for groups of pixels or an average value for the same pixel over a number of frames. This averaging tends to not only reduce the noise but also reduce fine details and textures. Faces and skin tones may appear smoothed and unnatural if excessively noise reduced. Smooth surfaces such as walls or the sky may get broken up into subtle bands or steps. Sometimes these artefacts won’t be seen in the cameras viewfinder or on a small screen and only become apparent on a bigger TV or monitor. Often the banding artefacts seen on walls etc are a result of excessive NR rather than a poor codec etc (although the two are often related as a weak codec may have to add a lot of NR to a noisy shot keep the bit rate down).

If you are shooting log then any minor artefacts in the log footage from in camera noise reduction may be magnified when you start grading and boosting the contrast. So, generally speaking when shooting log it is always best to avoid adding in camera NR. The easiest way to avoid noise when shooting with log is to expose a bit brighter so that in the grade you are never adding gain. Take gain away in post production to compensate for a brighter exposure and you take away much of the noise – without giving up those fine textures and details that make skin tones look great. If shooting log, really the only reason an image will be noisy is because it hasn’t been exposed bright enough. Even scenes that are meant to look dark need to be exposed well. Scenes with large dark areas need good contrast between at least some brighter parts so that the dark areas appear to be very dark compared to the bright highlights. Without any highlights it’s always tempting to bring up the shadows to give some point of reference. Add a highlight such as a light fixture or a lit face or object and there is no need to then bring up the shadows, they can remain dark, contrast is king when it comes to dark and night scenes.

If, however you are shooting for “direct to air” or content that won’t be graded and needs to look as good as possible directly from the camera then a small amount of in camera NR can be beneficial. But you should test the cameras different levels to see how much difference each level makes while also observing what happens to subtle textures and fine details. There is no free lunch here. The more NR you use the more fine details and textures you will lose and generally the difference in the amount of noise that is removed between the mid and high setting is quite small. Personally I tend to avoid using high and stick to low or medium levels. As always good exposure is the best way to avoid noise. Keep your gain and ISO levels low, add light if necessary or use a faster lens, this is much more effective than cranking up the NR.

Sony Launches Venice II

Screenshot-2021-11-12-at-10.02.54-e1636988898904-600x436 Sony Launches Venice II
Sony Venice II

 

Today Sony launched Venice II. Perhaps not one of the very best kept secrets with many leaks in the last few weeks, but finally we officially know that it’s called Venice II and it has an 8K (8.6K maximum) sensor recording 16 bit linear X-OCN or ProRes to 2 built in AXS card slots.

The full information about the new camera is here. https://pro.sony/en_GB/products/digital-cinema-cameras/venice2

Venice II is in essence the original Venice camera and the AXS-R7 all built into a single unit.  But to achieve this the ability to use SxS cards has been dropped, Venice II only works with AXS cards. The XAVC-I codec is also gone. The new camera is only marginally longer than the original Venice camera body.

Screenshot-2021-11-12-at-10.11.55-e1636988985171-600x395 Sony Launches Venice II

As well as X-OCN (the equivalent of a compressed raw recording) Venice II can also record 4K ProRes HQ and 4K ProRes 444. Because the sensor is an 8.6K sensor that 4K 444 will be “real” 444 with a real Red, Green and Blue sample at every position in the image. This will be a great format for those not wishing to use X-OCN. But why not use X-OCN? the files are very compact and full of 16 bit goodness. I find X-OCN just as easy to work with as ProRes.

One thing that Venice II can’t do is record proxies. Apparently user feedback is that these are rarely used. I guess in a film style workflow where you have an on set DIT station it’s easy for proxies to be created on set. Or you can create proxies in most edit applications when you ingest the main files, but I do wonder if proxies are something some people will miss if they only have X-OCN files to work from.

New Sensor:

Screenshot-2021-11-12-at-10.05.41-e1636989166442-600x248 Sony Launches Venice II

There has been a lot of speculation that the sensor used in Venice II is the same as the sensor in the Sony A1 mirrorless camera, after all the pixel count is exactly the same. We already know that the A1 sensor is a very nice and very capable sensor. So IF it were to be the same sensor but paired with significantly more and better processing power and an appropriate feature set for digital cinema production it would not be anything to complain about. But it is unlikely that it is the very same sensor. It might be based on the A1 sensor (and the original Venice sensor is widely speculated to be based on the A9 sensor) but one thing you don’t want on these sensors are the phase detection sites used for autofocus.

When you expand these very high quality images on to very big screens, even the smallest of image imperfections can become an issue. The phase detection pixels and the wires that interconnect them can form a very, very faint fixed pattern within the image. In a still photograph you would probably never see this. In a highly compressed image, compression artefacts might hide it (although both the FX6 and FX9 exhibit some fixed pattern noise that might in part be caused by the AF sites). But on a giant screen, with a moving image this faint fixed pattern may be perceptible to audiences and that just isn’t acceptable for a flagship cinema camera. So, I am led to believe that the sensors used in both the original Venice and Venice II do not have any AF phase detection pixels or wire interconnects. Which means these can not the very same sensors as found in the A1 or A9. They are most likely specifically made for Venice.
Also most stills camera based sensors are only able to be read at 12 bit when used for video, again perhaps a key difference is that when used with the cooling system in the Venice cameras these sensors can be read at 16 bit at video frame rates rather than 12 or 14 bits.

The processing hardware in Venice II has been significantly upgraded from the original Venice. This was necessary to support the data throughput need to shoot at 8.6K and 60fps as well as the higher resolution SDI outputs and much improved LUT processing.  Venice II can also be painted live on set via both wiFi and Ethernet. So the very similar exterior appearances do in fact hide the fact that this really is a completely new camera.

Screenshot-2021-11-12-at-10.09.29-e1636989513212-600x318 Sony Launches Venice II

My Highlights:

I am not going to repeat all the information in the press releases or on the Sony website here. But what I will say is I like what I see. Integrating the R7 into the Venice II body makes the overall package smaller. There are no interconnections to go wrong. The increase in dynamic range to 16 stops, largely thanks to a lower noise floor is very welcome. There was nothing wrong with the original Venice, but this new sensor is just that bit better.

The default dynamic range split gives the same +6 stops as most of Sony’s current cameras but goes down to -10 stops.  But with the very low noise floor that this sensor has rating the camera higher than the rated  800 base ISO to gain a bit of extra headroom shouldn’t be an issue. Sample footage from Venice II shows that the way the highlights do reach their limits is very nice.

The LUT processing has been improved and now you can have 3D LUTs in 4K on SDI’s 1&2 which are 12G and in HD at the same time on SDI’s 3&4 which are 3G – as well as on the monitor out and in the VF. This is actually quite a significant upgrade, the original Vence is a little bit lacking in  the way it handles LUTs. The ART look system is retained if you want even higher quality previews than that possible with 33x LUTs. There is also built in ACES support with a new RRT, this makes the camera extremely easy to use for ACES workflows and the 16 bit linear X-OCN is a great fit for ACES.

Screenshot-2021-11-12-at-10.15.31-e1636989310790-531x500 Sony Launches Venice II

It retains the ability to remove the sensor head so it can be used on the end of an extension cable. Venice II can use either the original 6K Venice sensor or the new 8K sensor, however a new extension cable which won’t be available until until some time in 2023 is needed before the head can be separated, so Venice 1 will still have a place for some considerable time to come.

Screenshot-2021-11-12-at-10.05.00-e1636989382866-600x292 Sony Launches Venice II
Venice only takes the original 6K sensor but Venice II can take either the original 6K sensor or the new 8K sensor.



Moving the dual ISO from 500/2500 to 800/3200 brings Venice II’s lower base ISO up to the same level as the majority of other Cinema cameras. I know that some found 500 ISO slightly odd to work with. This will just make it easier to work alongside other similarly rated cameras.

Another interesting consideration is that you can shoot at 5.8K pixels with a Super 35mm sized scan. This means that the 4K Super 35mm material will have greater resolution than the original Venice or many other S35 cameras that only use 4K of pixels at S35. There is a lot of very beautiful super 35mm cine glass available and being able to shoot using classic cinema glass and get a nice uplift in the image resolution is going to be really nice. Additionally there will be some productions where the shallower DoF of Full Frame may not be desirable or where the 8.6K files are too big and unnecessary. I can see Venice II being a very nice option for those wishing to shoot Super 35.

But where does this leave existing Venice owners? 

For a start the price of Venice 1 is not going to change. Sony are not dropping the cost. This new Venice is an upgrade over the original and more expensive (but the price does include the high frame rate options). Although my suspicion is that Venice II will not be significantly more expensive that the cost of the current Venice + R7 + HFR licence. Sony want this camera to sell well, so they won’t want to make it significantly more as then many would just stick with Venice 1. The original remains a highly capable camera that produces beautiful images and if you don’t need 8.6K the reasons to upgrade are fewer. The basic colour science of both cameras remains the same, so there is no reason why both can’t be used together on the same projects. Venice 1 can work with lower cost SxS cards and XAVC-I if you need very small files and a very simple workflow, Venice II pushes you to a AXS card based workflow and AXS cards are very expensive. 

If you have productions that need the Rialto system and the ability to un-dock the sensor, then this isn’t going to be available for Venice II for some time. So original Venice cameras will still be needed for Rialto applications (it will be 2023 before Rialto for Venice II becomes available).

Of course it always hurts when a new camera comes out, but I don’t think existing Venice owners should be too concerned.  If customers really felt they needed 8.6K then they would have already likely been lost to a Red camera and the Red ecosystem. But at least now that there is an 8K Venice option that might help keep the original Venice viable for second unit, Rialto (for now at least) or secondary roles within productions shooting primarily in 8K.

I like everything I see about Venice II, but it doesn’t make Venice 1 any less of a camera.


My Exposure Looks Different On My LCD Compared To My Monitor!

This is a common problem and something people often complain about. It may be that the LCD screen of their camera and the brightness of the  image on their monitor don’t ever seem to quite match. Or after the shoot and once in the grading suite the pictures look brighter or darker than they did at the time of shooting.

A little bit of background info: Most of the small LCD screens used on video cameras are SDR Rec-709 devices. If you were to calibrate the screen correctly the brightness of white on the screen would be 100 Nits. It’s also important to note that this level is the level that is also used for monitors that are designed to be viewed in dimly lit rooms such as edit or grading suites as well as TV’s at home.

The issue with uncovered LCD screens and monitors is your perception of brightness changes according to the ambient viewing light levels. Indoors in a dark room the image on it will appear to be quite bright. Outside on a Sunny day it will appear to be much darker. It’s why all high end viewfinders have enclosed eyepieces, not just to help you focus on a small screen but also because that way you are always viewing the screen under the very same always dark viewing conditions. It’s why a video village on a film set will be in a dark tent. This allows you to then calibrate the viewfinder with white at the correct 100 NIT level and then when viewed in a dark environment your images will look correct.


If you are trying to use an unshaded LCD screen on a bright sunny day you may find you end up over exposing as you compensate for the brighter viewing conditions. Or if you also have an extra monitor that is either brighter or darker you may become confused as to which is the right one to base your exposure assessments on. Pick the wrong one and your exposure may be off.  My recommendation is to get a loupe for the LCD, then your exposure assessment will be much more consistent as you will then always be viewing the screen under the same near ideal conditions.

It’s also been suggested that perhaps the camera and monitor manufacturers should make more small, properly calibrated monitors. But I think a lot of people would be very disappointed with a proper calibrated but uncovered display where white would be 100 NITs as it would be too dim for most outside shoots. Great indoors in a dim room such as an edit or grading suite but unusably dim outside on a sunny day. Most smaller camera monitors are uncalibrated and place white 3 or 4 times brighter at 300 NIT’s or so to make them more easily viewable outside. But because there is no standard for this there can be great variation between different monitors making it hard to understand which one to trust depending on the ambient light levels.