When 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.
Some of you may have been having issues downloading my LUT’s and some other content. This was occuring due to Chrome blocking the download of any files it deems unsafe. I have installed some upgraded tools on my server and you should find that downloads will work again now. Do let me know if you ever encounter issues with the site. The sooner you let me know the sooner I can look into them. Thanks.
PAL and NTSC are very specifically broadcasting standards for standard definition television. PAL (Phase Alternating Line) and NTSC (National Television Standard Committee) are analog interlaced standards specifically for standard definition broadcasting and transmission. These standards are now only very, very rarely used for broadcasting. And as most modern cameras are now high definition, digital and most commonly use progressive scan, these standards are no longer applicable to them.
As a result you will now rarely see these as options in a modern video camera. In our now mostly digital and HD/UHD world the same standards are used whether you are in a country that used to be NTSC or used to be PAL. The only difference now is the frame rate. Countries that have 50Hz mains electricity and that used to be PAL countries predominantly use frame rates based on multiples of 25 frames per second. Countries that have 60Hz mains and that used to be NTSC countries use frame rates based around multiples of 29.97 frames per second. It is worth noting that where interlace is still in use the frame rate is half of the field rate. So, where someone talks about 60i (meaning 60 fields per second) in reality the frame rate will actually be 29.97 frames per second with each frame having two fields. Where someone mentions 50i the frame rate is 25 frames per second.
Most modern cameras rather than offering the ability to switch between PAL and NTSC now instead offer the ability to switch between 50 and 60Hz. Sometimes you may still see a “PAL Area” or “NTSC Area” option – note the use of the word “Area”. This isn’t switching the camera to PAL or NTSC, it is setting up the camera for areas that used to use PAL or used to use NTSC.
Next week I will be giving a presentation on new tech including 8K cameras, stabilised cameras, lighting, colour managed and cloud based workflows that may change the way we do things in the future. Come and join me in London on the 12th of May at 13:00 at the Media, Production and Technology show at Olympia to find out more.
With the FX9 recently gaining the ability to shoot Anamorphic the timing of this couldn’t be better. My good friends over at CineD are giving away a Sirui 50mm 1.3x Anamorphic lens in a Christmas raffle. I have the 35mm and the 75mm versions of this lens and the are nice little lenses that will of course work perfectly with the FX9 in it’s S35 4K scan mode with the anamorphic monitoring set to 1.3x. The lenses can also be used with the 5K Crop scan mode. On an FX6 you would need to use about 1.2x clear image zoom to remove the vignette, but I feel these are useable with the FX6 for 4K. I was looking to add the 50mm to my own set so maybe I need to enter the raffle too! CLICK HERE to go to the raffle – good luck!
After having to skip a year my Northern Lights tours are back on again starting January 2022. These trips are made for those that appreciate the beauty of nature. The arctic is a spectacular place in so many ways. Especially in winter when the low arctic sun skims along the horizon providing golden hour light all day.
During the long nights when the sky is clear the Northern Lights come out to play. The cold air provides very clear viewing and most guests are blown away by the numbers of stars visible. It’s a photographers paradise.
For more information take a look at the tour page. If you are interested, send me a message.
The Nanlite Forza 300 is a LED COB spotlight normally used with a reflector to provide a 55 degree light cone.
The lamp is 300 watts and can be powered from the mains with the included power adapter or vai a pair of V-lock batteries. It is daylight balanced at 5500K and has a CRI of 95 (measured by myself). It has always resulted in very pleasing skin tone whenever I have used it.
The 300 watt LED COB emitter produces a similar amount of light to a 3000 watt tungsten lamp. This makes the Forza 300 suitable for illuminating very large areas or as a source light for a large soft box or for use with large silk diffusers. Nanlite make a very nice parabolic reflectors/soft boxes for the Forza lamps that are very quick to erect due to the use of clever quick locking support arms.
The lamphead has a standard Bowens mount so there are many light modifiers that can be used, but one that I particularly like is the Nanlite zoomable Fresnel adapter. This large fresnel lens can be adjusted to provide a very tightly controlled light beam from just 5 degrees wide to 45 degrees wide. It comes with barn doors and turns the Forza 300 into something comparable to the old Arri 2K fresnel, just without the heat and power draw.
I’m a big fan of fresnels as they give you good control of where your light is going. Make it dimmable as well and you have a very versatile lamp.
The light can be controlled via DMX as well as a couple of very cheap wireless remote control units (around £20/$30) and an app is due to be released soon.
Like many modern lights it also has a number of effects modes including strobe, storm, TV and bad bulb and these can be quickly and easily selected from the lamps control unit and power supply. The build quality is very good. The lamp head is mostly metal while the control unit is a mix of good quality plastics and metal. The whole thing weighs 4.8kg so you don’t need a particularly large light stand to support it.
with a street price of around £650/$850 this is a very affordable yet also very capable lamp. I would suggest that anyone trying to build their own versatile light kit should include at least one spot light and not just rely on LED panel lights. Having a good, bright spot light allows you to a lot more creative lighting as a spot light, especially if you add the Fresnel lens can be used with gobo’s or objects in the foreground to create interesting shadow effects.
For a recent short film shoot I used the Forza 300 to throw light through a forest of trees. The trees creating interesting shadows adding a lot of extra contrast to the shots. For another scene I used the Forza 300 as a backlight through some smoke for an interesting mystic effect. A flat panel light cannot reproduce these effects in the same way.
For this shoot I needed to power the lamp off batteries. It is worth noting that if running the lamp at is maximum output of 300 watts you will be drawing over 10 amps from each of the 2 V-Lock batteries need to run it. This is right at the limit of what many V-Locks can deliver. As a result you may find your batteries cutting off before they are fully discharged. To run a high power LED lamp like this you should consider Lithium Manganese batteries or other batteries capable of at least a 12 amp output. My own preference is to use Pag Paglink batteries as by linking two batteries together you can double the amount of power they can deliver. Using 4 Paglink batteries (2 pairs of 2) I was able to run the lamp for 90 minutes at full power.
The lamp I used for the review was supplied by Prolight Direct UK. They are very knowledgable with many years of experience with all kinds of film and television lighting, so do contact them with your lighting needs.
I highly recommend the Forza 300. It is, in my opinion, one of the best of this type of lamp on the market today and very competitively priced. Please see the video above for more information.
In this video – live streamed on June 24th 2021 I take a look at the new Hollyland Lark 150 dual channel wireless microphone system.
The Lark 150 is a compact digital wireless microphone system that is available as a single channel or dual channel kit. If you buy the single channel kit you can add an extra transmitter pack later if you wish and pairing the units is really simple.
Each kit is supplied in a storage box that acts as a drop-in charger. To pair the transmitters to the receiver simply place them all in the storage box together and they are paired automatically, it’s as simple as that.
The transmitter units have a built in microphone and come with a clip on fluffy wind gag. But in addition a plug in lavalier microphone of pretty good quality is also included in the kit, one for each transmitter pack. There is also a mute button on each transmitter unit.
The receiver outputs a mono output or stereo output via a 3.5mm TRS socket depending on you personal preferences (connecting cables for cameras or phones are included in the kit). There is also a handy “safety mode” that outputs at full level on channel 1 and at a reduced level on channel 2. This is great for filming in environments where the audio levels can suddenly change as the lower level recording helps avoid clipping or distortion if the levels suddenly increase. There are two large control knobs on the receiver that control the levels of the two channels and allow you to switch between the different operating modes. The LCD screen clearly shows how the microphone is configured along with the audio levels. There is an additional headphone output on the receiver for headphone monitoring in case your camera doesn’t have a headphone jack.
Battery life is excellent, I got around 8 hours of use from a single charge. To charge the transmitter and receiver units just put them in the carry case and the battery built into the case will charge them back up again. The case has a USB socket to charge it.
The sound quality is very good for a low cost system. As it is entirely digital there is virtually no hiss or noise. The only downside is that the range is more limited than most much more expensive professional radio mics. This system uses the licence free 2.4Ghz band so there are no licensing issues in most countries and the digital transmissions are very secure, so you don’t need to worry about people illicitly listening in.
While you can get up to 100m/300ft range from them in perfect conditions. I found that I reliably and consistently get a range of about 100ft (30m). Operate them in this distance range and they are generally rock solid. However if the presenters body or some other substantial objects gets between the transmitter and receiver there is a small decrease in range, perhaps dropping to a reliable 50ft (15m). This is still plenty for most applications.
I really like these microphones. They won’t replace my much more expensive Sony UWP-D professional microphones, but they are great when you need something compact, ultra light and really simple to use. They are perfect for a lot of blogging applications as well as for interviews etc. At a cost of around £210/$275 for the dual channel kit these are excellent value for the money.
Before the large sensor resolution most professional video cameras used 3 sensors, one each for red, green and blue. And each of those sensors normally had as many pixels as the resolution of the recording format. So you had enough pixels in each colour for full resolution in each colour.
Then along came large sensor cameras where the only way to make it work was by using a single sensor (the optical prism would be too big to accomodate any existing lens system). So now you have to have all your pixels on one sensor divided up between red, green and blue.
Almost all of camera manufacturers ignored the inconvenient truth that a colour sensor with 4K of pixels won’t deliver 4K of resolution. We were sold these new 4K cameras. But the 4K doesn’t mean 4K resolution, it means 4K of pixels. To be fair to the manufactures, they didn’t claim 4K resolution, but they were also quite happy to let end users think that that’s what the 4K meant.
My reason for writing about this topic again is because I just had someone on my facebook feed discussing how wonderful it was to be shooting at 6K with a new camera as this would give lots of space for reframing for 4K.
The nature of what he wrote – “shooting at 6K” – implies shooting at 6K resolution. But he isn’t, his 6K sensor is probably delivering around 4K resolution and he won’t have any room for reframing if he wants to end up with a 4K resolution final image. Now again, in the name of fairness, shooting with 6K of pixels is going to be better than shooting with 4K of pixels if you do choose to reframe. But we really, really need to be careful about how we use terms like 4K or 6K. What do we really mean, what are we really talking about. Because the more we muddle pixels with resolution the less clear it will be what we are actually recording. Eventually no one will really understand that the two are different and the differences really do matter.
Can you tell which is genuine and which is fake? It would appear that a number of fake BP-U batteries are starting to show up on ebay and other less reputable places. The battery on the left won’t charge on a genuine Sony charger, this tells me it is not a real Sony battery.
If you look at the labels on the batteries the quality of the printing on the fake battery on the left is not as fine as on the genuine battery, in particular the ® as well as the box around the level indicator LED’s is not as crisply and finely printed.
The sellers are clever. These are not so cheap as to raise suspicion, they just seem very competitively priced. These batteries might be a little bit cheaper, but how safe are they and how long will they last? I have to say this would have fooled me and I have a lot of sympathy for others that have been tricked into buying these. But if the manufacturer can’t sell these by legitimate means under their own brand name I really do have to question their quality and safety.