More Traveling with Cameras

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April and May have been amazing so far. Great jobs came out of nowhere and I have been traveling. In April I was hired to shoot for two shows in the Bahamas: ‘Laura McKenzie’s Traveler’ and ‘Elizabeth Stanton’s Great Big World’.
The job included traveling on a yacht and staying in luxury resorts on the Xumas in the Bahamas for 2 1/2 weeks. Unbelievable. I was shooting on an old Sony F350 xdcam monster, sometimes knee-deep in water surrounded by sharks. Haha, not the man eating ones. All I can say is that I’m very grateful for the experience and feel privileged that I was able to work in a place where other people pay a lot of money to get to – and being with great talent and crew of course.
Now I’m back on the documentary about rural surgery we started last year and we are traveling the US on a shoe string budget. It’s the same amount of fun though which proves to me that I’m in the right job: I love what I do! So instead of racing in a cigarette boat through turquoise water and blasting HipHop I drive through the night in an RV listening to country music. Both awesome!
I decided to use my FS700 for the documentary although I couldn’t charge them for it – just because I love the camera. Still – the HVX proved itself way more practical for filming the surgeries and following the doctors around. Big sensor cameras slow you down substantially and require a certain amount of preplanning. Not that I haven’t done any run and gun on my Canon T2i but the amount of non-usable footage is way higher. Talking about out-of-focus.
There are some possible jobs coming up but I don’t want to talk about them until I’m booked. Classic superstitious behavior. Wish me luck.

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ISO Noise Level Test with the Sony FS700 (closed cap test)

This is a very boring but important test if you want to find out how the noise levels in the darkest blacks will increase when you crank up your ISO.
The FS700 provides very clean blacks up to 1600 and is absolutely usable up to 3200. 6400 is the cut off if you don’t want to compromise too much but it still looks nice since the natural structure of the noise (looks like film grain). But if your coverage depends on it you can crank it up all the way to 16000. We should call this Night for Day!
If I compare this with similar test with older Canon DSLRs we gain a lot here! Basically this is all the ISO we need. Who would want to make night look like day? The FS 700 is right up there with the Canon C300. This test was actually inspired by Shane Hurlbut’s ISO test of the Canon 1DC which is of course a very different animal. Anyway – again – the FS700 proves itself a strong contender in the low light field.

I highly recommend to watch this in full screen mode.

ISO Test with Sony FS700 (closed cap method) from Blue Tree Productions on Vimeo.

Another Super35mm HD Camera: Canon announces the EOS C100

The EOS C100 with a lens from Canon L-glass series

Another big sensor Camera hits the market. And for a reasonable price. The under $10.000 segment has more and more choices now. This could be an easy pic for those shooting on the 5D and who have an extensive set of Canon glass. Basically it’s the reduced version of the C300 but it still has the most important features: Amazing low light sensitivity and the same sensor. I certainly don’t want to make a quick judgment because I’m sure Canon did a great job and I actually haven’t worked with the C300 yet (just played around with it at NAB). But if I compare it to Sony’s FS700 which costs the same there are three massively important features missing:

1. Superslowmotion

2.HD-SDI out

3. Future upgrade to compressed 4K raw out.

So here is the question: Is the convenience of not using an adaptor worth missing out on those features?

Here’s a quick list of features (from the Canon website):

The EOS C100 digital video camera is approximately 85% of the size of the EOS C300 model, for maximum mobility. Designed for professional operability, the C100 includes a push auto iris function, one-shot auto focus (or full manual focus and exposure control), a multi-angle 3.5-inch LCD control panel, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF), built-in ND filters, dual XLR inputs, and a locking HDMI output. These features combine with such advanced technologies as reduced rolling shutter artifacts in 60i mode, enhanced gamma modes (including Wide Dynamic Range (DR) Gamma and Canon Log Gamma), cinematic depth of field characteristics, and excellent low-light performance. The C100 records to dual SD cards contributing to the camera’s reduced size and convenience.

Like its C300 sibling, the EOS C100 employs Canon’s uniquely designed Super 35mm 16:9 CMOS sensor that captures individual R, G, and B channels for each full HD 1920 x 1080 frame. This high-sensitivity CMOS sensor provides creative depth of field capabilities for an excellent “bokeh” effect, and provides an ISO range of from 320 to 20,000, enabling the capture of images in low light with minimal picture noise. The Canon DIGIC DV III image processor in the C100 helps ensure high color fidelity and smooth color gradations. The camera’s AVCHD codec utilizes MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression similar to the codec used in Canon’s XA10 professional HD camcorder. AVCHD features a maximum recording bit rate of 24Mbps in full HD 1920 x 1080 and 4:2:0 color space for sharp, vivid images. Multiple recording modes, resolutions, and frame rates (including 24p) make the C100 creatively flexible for many production environments. The C100 also offers enhanced gamma modes (including Wide DR Gamma and Canon Log Gamma) for a peak dynamic range of 800% and the wide exposure latitude needed for creative post-production image processing, color correction, and contrast manipulation.

 

View of the censor of Canon’s new EOS C100

First Footage filmed with the FS700 – Fun with Guns

That’s my first official shoot with the Sony FS700. I’m very grateful for the great subjects so I could put the camera through a tough test. It was basically running all day in high speed mode and it didn’t generate any problems whatsoever. I shot with a gamma mode that’s faithful to (ITU-709) but changed the colors in post. Highlights were holding up perfectly although we had a lot of hard sunlight. I used “End Trigger” for the the Super Slow Motion which is very useful for guns and explosions. Overall, a great first impression.

My new Sony Nex-FS700 is now for rent

Jan Becker's Sony Nexus FS700 is now for rent

If you want to rent me and my Sony FS700 contact me on bluetreeproductions.com

I’m ready to help you to shoot your project using my new baby the Sony FS700. I tested it’s abilities and I’m blown away by the picture quality. It’s definitely a step up from a DSLR. Colors are beautiful, the latitude is much better and the noise in low light is minimal. The super slow motion in 240fps looks clean and very impressive. I will post some footage soon. Contact me through my website www.bluetreeproductions.com

Arrival of the Sony Nexus FS700

The big brown box from B&H

The friendly UPS guy delivers my new camera

There are only a few things more exiting for a DP than getting your hands on your new camera. For this one I waited a long time. When the specs were revealed just before NAB 2012 I almost wouldn’t believe it: 240fps, 4K, Super 35mm sensor for under $10.000? That was more than I had asked for. My craving set in instantly and hard. When would it be released? How long do I have to wait for this thing? Then the the first footage of the per-production models was revealed on Vimeo. Absolutely stunning! I had to get my hands on one – fast. Like in a mad frenzy I was checking the B&H site every day to be among the first ones to pre-order it. Which I did on the first possible day! Obsession! And today it happened – the UPS man dropped of the B&H box and the magical process of un-boxing unfolded itself. What is it with the unboxing people are obsessed about? There are unboxing videos and photos all over the internet? What’s the psychology behind it? Do we feel worth more because we own a certain thing and want to show it to the world? Erich Fromm wrote a whole book on it: “To have or to be?”. I can only speak for myself but I do feel better as a cinematographer owning a great tool. It’s like adding a new body part that serves my craft. Am I a better DP because of it? No – but I have the chance to work more, experiment more, train more and have more fun. I’m very grateful for this opportunity. Also there is just the sheer joy of having this marvel of engineering right in your hands. Just admiring all the knowledge, hard work, inspiration and creativity that materialized in this camera body. It gives me the feeling of being part of a greater human community. And then also there is this feeling of responsibility: I own this great tool – now it’s my duty to create amazing images. It’s a motivation and a push for quality. And last but nor least there is the pressure of making all the money back I spent on the camera – not to underestimate.

Jan Becker's new camera shines

There she is - ready to capture amazing footage.

Latitude Test with the FS700

They did some latitude and other test over at AbelCine in New York and I’m mostly happy about the fact that the FS700 will deliver about 11 stops of latitude: same as the FS100. What is interesting is that the new camera has the Cinegamma settings of the F3 which will put it in a more cinematic space with softer rolling off highlights.

Also, people were worried that the smaller photo-sites on the sensor would create more noise but as it turns out, the difference is barely visible. So the low-light sensitivity is still amazing.

They did some more tests, just check it out over at AbelCine.