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DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter test footage from SCP aerials

By site editor Dan Chung:

Hong Kong based SCP aerials have been lucky enough to be test flying the new DJI Inspire 1 and produce some stunning footage from the new machine. The company should be no strangers to Newsshooter readers as we previously featured their work for UK broadcaster ITN at the World’s largest soccer academy.

SCP are a DJI production partner and as a result got a chance to get their hands on the Inspire 1 before launch. Having been able to chalk up some serious airtime with the quadcopter we were keen to hear about their experiences.

This is what SCP aerial’s Richard Kimber had to say:

The SCP Aerials team had been looking forward to this for a long time;  a lightweight, highly portable, 4K-capable UAV filming platform. Could the DJI Inspire 1 be the ultimate solution for our many clients who want 4K footage in remote locations around Asia?

Our official production partners DJI sent us a test model a month ago, ahead of the official global launch on November 12th.  The key question for us was whether it lives up to all the hype that was spreading among the growing aerial filming community. 

When we first took it out of the box we couldn’t help but get over-excited; with its sculpted, streamlined black and white design, this aircraft looks like a something from a futuristic sci-fi movie. The other obvious selling point was how straightforward the set-up is. Everything is integrated, from HD transmission to gimbal to 4K camera. No need for complex cabling, no need for separate transmitter units, and simple, single battery units for the aircraft and controllers that are easy to recharge and easy to travel with. 

At around fifteen minutes, the flight time is longer than most of the other aircraft rigs on the market right now, and allows for plenty of time to set up your shot before you need to start recording. All the in-camera settings are controlled through the pilot and gimbal controllers’ iPad minis, and it is easy to change options mid flight. 

The Inspire 1 on location in Hong Kong

The Inspire 1 on location in Hong Kong

But enough of the tech spec, what is it like once it’s in the air? Our pilots say it flies like a dream and is more responsive than any of its predecessors. It is however still a bit light for flying in light wind and does get buffeted around more than the larger DJI S1000. The Sony EXMOR CMOS looks great in 4K mode and is noticeably better than an equivalent 1920/1080 HD offering, although after our initial tests the feedback from our higher-end clients is that it doesn’t quite match up to the 4K colour palette of a Panasonic GH4.

For most of the prosumer base that is interested in the Inspire 1 this may not be an issue, and for sheer convenience, portability and speed of set-up the Inspire 1 will absolutely become a full-time member of the SCP Aerials armoury, particularly for our many adventure sport shoots.

You can find out more about SCP Aerials and their work at http://www.hotaerials.tv

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Posted on November 21st, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: 4K, Drones | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sony and Metabones issue new firmware relating to FS7 issues

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Metabones Speedbooster Ultra on the FS7

The Metabones Speedbooster Ultra on the FS7

Both Sony and Metabones released new firmware today which are designed to improve the performance of the FS7.

The FS7 receives firmware update v1.01 which cryptically has the following features and improvements:

1.) XDCA-FS7 Support
Activates the support of the optional extension box XDCA-FS7. A PXW-FS7 which has V1.00 installed cannot use the XDCA-FS7.

2.) Operation Stability Improvements
Overall operation performance has been improved.

I don’t have my FS7 with me this week and so will have to wait to find out exactly what this does.

Metabones have issued firmware 0.38 for their EF to E-mount Speedbooster Ultra and 0.37 for their Mark IV Smart adapter. The 0.38 update specifically refers to the FS7 only mentions that it addresses misreported aperture issues. I hope this firmware also deals with the issues I detailed in this post – but right now I can’t test it.

This is what the Metabones site states:

Name: Firmware update V0.38 for EF-E Speed Booster ULTRA
Release date: 20 Nov 2014
Benefits and improvements: Due to FS7 can not support aperture faster than f/1.0, lenses slower than f/1.4 report boosted aperture to camera body; lenses at or faster than f/1.4 report original aperture to camera body, in order to address a FS7 compatibility issue.

Name: Firmware update V0.37 for EF-E Smart AdapterTM MARK IV
Release date: 20 Nov 2014
Benefits and improvements: Improves stability with some lenses

If you own the FS7 and the Metabones adapter and have had a chance to test this I would love to hear from you.

Posted on November 21st, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Sony FS7 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sony launch a7 II – world’s first full-frame camera with 5-axis image stabilisation system (Updated)

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Sony a7 II

The Sony a7 II

a7 II

Sony today announced the second generation of the a7 camera line. The 24.3 million pixel a7 II looks like a direct replacement for the original a7 – at this point there is no word on replacements for the video friendly a7S or the a7R high resolution stills camera.

a7II

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The a7 II’s showcase feature is the brand new 5-axis sensor shift image stabilisation system. Similar to the system in the Olympus EM5 micro four-thirds camera, the a7 II has a sensor that moves to compensate for different kinds of camera shake. Check out the video below to see how it works:

It would appear that one catch is that you need to use Sony’s own lenses to benefit from the system – third party lenses with adapters won’t work with it from what we can tell (Edit – I’ve been told by multiple sources that you will get stabilisation with third party lenses but that you have to tell the camera the focal length in the menu. How this works with zooms will be interesting). It will be interesting to see how lens adapters like the Metabones EF to E-mount Smart adapter that emulate Sony lenses will be handled (A comment below states that EF lenses can be used with the stabilisation system as long as the in lens IS is turned off).

Judging from Sony’s video it appears the stabilisation system also works in video mode – something many have speculated was going to happen at some point.

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The other video features of this camera to improved from the original a7 – it gains S-log 2 and Cine gammas but there is no 4K output on the spec sheet, just a clean 1080/60p/60i/24p HDMI out in YCbCr 4:2:2 8bit/RGB 8bit. The high megapixel sensor may mean that this camera also suffers from aliasing and moire like the original a7 – we will have to wait and see. It does however record the XAVC-S in line with all the latest Sony models.

Frame rates appear to limited to 60fps and not the 120 fps that the a7S offers. Videographers may have to wait for a video optimised a7S II before jumping in.

Autofocus speed for stills is improved greatly, but for now there is no word on the video AF performance.

The body shape has had minor updates but the record button remains in the wrong place

The body shape has had minor updates but the record button remains in the wrong place

The camera body shape is also very similar but slightly bigger (presumably to accommodate the sensor-shift system). The handgrip is bigger and the still shutter button has been repositioned onto the top of the grip (where is should always have been). The lens mount is also said to be strengthened – something that Sony already did on the a7S compared to the a7R and original a7.

The HDMI port has moved to a position next to the audio jacks

The HDMI port has moved to a position next to the audio jacks

The micro HDMI port has been relocated so it now sits next to the headphone and mic jacks. This may cause some headaches for designers of cages and third party rigs.

It also has a different ‘crackle’ finish compared to the smooth coating of the original. Sadly the poorly positioned video button appears to be in the same place as the original a7 – hopefully you’ll be able to customise the main shutter button to trigger video but don’t hold your breath.

We will update this story as the day progresses.

Full specs in English are now available on the Sony website.

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Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Sony A7 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Blackmagic Design add 80 fps 4K recording and 3:1 RAW codec to their URSA 4K camera

By site editor Dan Chung:

ursa

Blackmagic Design today bolstered the performance of their URSA 4K camera with the addition of 80fps recording in 4K and a new RAW format with 3:1 compression. This is available for free as part of firmware update v1.9.9 that is downloadable now.

The higher frame rate recording is coupled with the ability to set the playback frame rate separately so the recorded footage is played back in camera at standard video framerates like 24 and 25P – for instant viewing of the slow motion effect.

The new RAW codec is much more efficient than the camera’s original RAW format. It takes approximately half the space and yet is still 12-bit RAW. CEO Grant Petty sees this format as being an alternative to higher bitrate ProRes recording.

In camera CFast card formatting has been added in either HFS+ or ExFAT. This will help to optimise the card file systems for better performance.

The menu system of the camera has been updated as well to make operation smoother.

This from Kristian Lam on the Blackmagic Design Website:

New RAW 3:1
The first feature is a new compressed RAW format called RAW 3:1. The nice thing about this is that you will be able to record up to twice as much RAW footage using RAW 3:1 and the quality is great. You will also need to use this format if you want to record high frame rates on URSA. For example, you can record about 7 minutes of RAW on a 128 GB CFast card but 14 minutes if you use RAW 3:1. The great thing is that it is still 12-bit RAW.

URSA’s Frame Rate is now 80fps in 4K!
We have also increased URSA’s maximum frame rate to 80 fps in 4K and all existing URSAs will have this enabled when the software is updated. To shoot up to 80fps, you’ll need to use ProRes or the RAW 3:1 codec. Even at 80 fps using RAW 3:1, you can still record to single CFast card.

Variable Frame Rate Settings

We have 2 new settings in URSA, a Project Frame Rate and a Sensor Frame Rate. The Project Frame Rate is the native playback frame rate of the recorded footage and in the standard video frame rates you are familiar with like 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and so on.

The Sensor Frame Rate sets up how fast the URSA sensor is running and can be selected from 5 to 80 fps in 1 frame increments. This makes it really easy to shoot off-speed in camera now. If you set the Sensor Frame Rate to 48 fps and the Project Frame Rate to 24 fps, you’ll end up with a 2x slow motion clip. The great thing about this is that the clip is tagged as a 24 fps clip so you can immediately play the clip back and view the off-speed effect in camera! It also plays back in the desired speed when you import the clip into Resolve without having to manually change any clip properties.

New Frame Guides
We have added the following frame guides that can be enabled on the 10” display as well.

• 2.40:1
• 2.39:1
• 2.35:1
• 1.85:1
• HDTV
• 4:3
• Thirds

New Dashboard

There is a new URSA Dashboard view that can be toggled by the DISP button. This will allow you to display options for formatting the CFast card, turning zebras on/off and also the front SDI output overlays on and off.

In-camera formatting

We now support in-camera formatting. This allows the user to format the CFast 2.0 cards in URSA. We recommend you to format your media in our cameras as we optimize file system for the best performance.

Scrollable Menus
We have added scrollable menus in URSA which allows us to add more options. For example, in the Display settings, you can individually adjust the brightness of each display or turn on or off the overlays on each screen or SDI outputs.

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: 4K, Blackmagic design | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inter BEE 2014: Panasonic GH4 V-log picture profile spotted in the wild

By technical editor Matt Allard:

A GH4 on the Panasonic stand at the Inter BEE show in Tokyo today was running beta firmware with the V-Log picture profile. This Log profile is similar to the one in the much more expensive Varicam 35. This would be a very welcome enhancement for anyone trying to get the best possible image from the GH4, and a huge advantage for colourists trying to match the GH4 with other cameras.

The V-log profile clearly running on the GH4

The V-log profile clearly running on the GH4

As already announced, the firmware also had the ability to output 4K over HDMI – this enables recording of 4K ProRes on to the soon to be released Atomos Shogun. Other features slated for the next firmware release include HDMI timecode and HDMI record trigger. Something that both Sony and Canon have had implemented for quite a long time.

IMG_1304

I spoke to a Panasonic representative who told me that the V-Log Picture Profile was only being tested at the moment and isn’t confirmed for the next firmware release. Interestingly enough though I did run into a Japanese shooter who had V-Log operational on his GH4.

Lets hope that it is indeed scheduled to be included in Panasonic’s upcoming firmware update.

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Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: 4K, Interbee, Panasonic GH4 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inter BEE 2014: Tascam DR-70D compact 4 channel audio recorder for DSLRs

By technical editor Matt Allard:

Tascam are one of the best know makers of external sound recorders and at the Inter BEE show in Japan they are showing their new DR-70D solution primarily aimed at DSLR users. The DR-70D is a compact 4 channel audio recorder that allows users to create audio recordings as very high quality WAVs to SD card. The recorder can be mounted directly below the camera, or on top if you prefer. Additional mounting options also allow you to place a shotgun mic or other cold shoe accessory on top of the

The Tascam DR-70D

The Tascam DR70D

With its two built-in microphones the DR-70D can record stereo ambient sound. In addition it has four XLR/TRS combo jacks which can be used to record four channels of audio. Thanks to a minijack camera output the recorder’s stereo signal can be sent to the camera to be used as a scratch audio track, or even primary audio if necessary. There is also a useful slate tone function of the recorder. You can also feed the camera’s headphone output into the Tascam so the camera’s audio can be monitored using the recorder.

The recorder has various mounting options

The recorder has various mounting options

The DR-70D has 24- or 48-volts phantom power for condenser mics and overload-resistant preamps with switchable low-cut filter and a limiter. It can handle microphone signals in mid/side format and has many other functions that facilitate capturing, monitoring and subsequent processing of the audio tracks.

The DR-70D looks like a great solution for owners of DSLRs or other cameras where the built-in audio functionality is not ideal. Essentially this box functions like a Juicedlink or Beachtek audio adapter but with added functionality and the ability to record separately as insurance. If the sound quality turns out to be good then the $299 US price tag looks very reasonable.

It could also be used on professional cameras like the Sony F5/55 as a mixer where audio control is limited to internal menus – the only downside being that the output is via minijack and not XLR or TA3.

Here is the full DR-70D spec:

Two built-in microphones
4 XLR/TRS combo jacks allow a wide range of setups
Built-in mixer with 4 inputs and 2 outputs
High audio quality through HDDA microphone preamps
Compact and tough design
Camera input and output
Slate tone generator for easy alignment with video files

Main Features
Compact, professional-grade audio recorder designed to be used in combination with a DSLR camera.
Uses an SD/SDHC/SDXC card as recording medium (up to 128 GB)
High-quality recording inputs through Tascam original High Definition Discrete Architecture (HDDA) mic preamps.
NE5532 operational amplifiers for even higher audio performance (also used on DA-3000)
In addition to ordinary stereo recording, simultaneous recording of up to four channels is possible.
Four channels can be mixed down to a stereo signal
Recording levels can be adjusted independently for inputs 1–4
Dual recording function allows two files to be recorded simultaneously at different levels
Recording at 44.1/48/96 kHz, 16/24-bit, linear PCM (WAV format)
Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) supported as WAV recording format
Two built-in omnidirectional microphones
Four XLR/TRS combo inputs can provide phantom power (+24V/+48V)
+24 dBu maximum input level (20 dB headroom)
Additional unbalanced input for channels 1 and 2 (stereo mini jack) supports mics that require plug-in power, allowing the input of video mics and other high-output mics.
Switchable low-cut filter conveniently reduces low-frequency noise (40 Hz, 80 Hz, 120 Hz)
Switchable limiter to prevent clipping
High-quality audio can be output to a DSLR camera for recording
Camera input enables convenient monitoring of audio from a DSLR camera
Selectable mid-side decoding for use with MS microphone setups
Slate tone functions (automatic/manual) to simplify synchronization of video files when editing
Pre-recording function allows the unit to record the two seconds of sound before recording is activated
Auto recording function to start start and stop recording by input level
A new file can be created during recording (manually or by file size)
Self-timer function to start recording after a set period of time
Jump-back function allows the last several seconds of the currently played file to be replayed again by simply pressing a button.
Selectable delay to eliminate time lags caused by differences in the distances of two input sources
QUICK button allows easy access to various functions
Mark function convenient for moving to specific locations
Equalizers for playback, and level alignment function to enhance the perceived overall sound pressure
File name format can be set to use a user-defined word or the date
Resume function to memorize the playback position before the unit is turned off
Line output and headphones output with individual level controls (3.5-mm jack)
Dedicated remote control jack for use with RC-10 and RC-3F (sold separately)
Hold switch to prevent accidental operation
Low-noise buttons
128 x 64 pixel LC display with backlight
USB 2.0 port
Stand adapter (¼ inch) on bottom side to attach the unit to a tripod
DSLR bracket for easy camera attachment and removal
Hot shoe mount (accessible when not using the DSLR bracket)
Handles on the front left and right sides protect the screen and can be used to attach a shoulder belt
Operates on four AA batteries, an AC adapter (sold separately: TASCAM PS-P515U), external battery pack (sold separately: TASCAM BP-6AA) or USB bus power

The Tascam DR10 C

The Tascam DR10 C

At Inter BEE Tascam were also showing the DR-10CS, and DR-10CL, a range of tiny audio recorders that can be connected directly to radio mic transmitters from companies like Sony, Sennheiser, Lectrosonics and Shure. These are very handy if you are in situations where radio mics are breaking up because of frequency interference or distance.

The DR10 X plug on recorder

The DR10 X plug on recorder

For handheld mics they have the DR-10X which offers a similar solution.

You can find out more about the DR-70D on the Tascam website.

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: Audio, DSLR video news, Interbee | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sony Remote RMT-VP1K commander IR remote for wireless video triggering

By site editor Dan Chung:

Along with the big news of the a7 II today Sony also quietly put out a new IR remote control that might come in handy for video shooters – especially a7S users. Their new Remote commander can trigger video and control the servo zoom of compatible E-lenses like the 18-105 f4 G. It has a 360-degree IR receiver which should make triggering from a reasonable distance away from the camera easier. It plugs into the a7S multi-terminal but should also work with the IR sensor.

One interesting thing is the time code reset which may be of use if trying to sync two cameras if you had two receivers – but this I am really not sure of the accuracy of.

This from Sony:

• Remote commander & 360-degree IR receiver kit (350mm IR receiver cable)
• Wide compatibility, enabling use with a camera equipped with an IR sensor or Multi Terminal (Some functions may be limited when using a camera’s IR sensor and remote commander)
• Supports still image and movie recording (half-press/release/bulb lock, movie REC/zoom)
• Enables prevention of interference of multiple remote control signals with channel selector switches
• Time code reset function (For details about compatible models, refer to the Instruction Manual of the camera)
• Clip stand supplied

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Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Sony a7S | Permalink | Comments (0)

Letus Helix Jr. lighter weight brushless gimbal designed for mirrorless cameras

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Letus Helix Jr.

The Letus Helix Jr.

The Letus Helix has always been a little different from other brushless gimbals. The clever design is based around correct placement of the optical centre of the lens. The camera can be correctly balanced extremely quickly compared to other designs.

Unlike most gimbals, which are built to run with the camera suspended from above, the Helix is designed ‘right side up’ with a baseplate and handles attached underneath the gimbal. This allows the operator to hold the unit much closer to the chest and in a more natural manner than a regular design. Another advantage of the Helix is that the gimbal has a flat base which can simply be placed on the ground – no special resting stand is needed.

The Helix Jr in aerial mode ready to attach

The Helix Jr in aerial mode ready to attach

The current Helix can carry a wide range of cinema cameras and DSLRs but with the development of better, smaller mirrorless cameras it isn’t always necessary.

Enter the new Helix Jr. – the shrunken brother of the original model. It is designed as a smaller alternative specifically for cameras like the Panasonic GH4 and Sony a7S. It has a payload of around 7 lbs which is enough for a decent GH4 setup. The gimbal itself weighs a mere 3.5 lbs in handheld mode. Letus claim that a fully set up Helix Jr. with a GH4 onboard weighs in at around 2/3 of the weight of DJI’s Ronin gimbal without a camera on it. Clearly these kind of weight savings will be appreciated by events and documentary shooters who may need to film for prolonged periods without extra rig support.

The brushless motors of the Helix

The brushless motors of the Helix Jr.

Here are the specs of the Jr. from Letus:

- It’s made out of magnesium material which is 2/3 the density of aluminum and has better vibration dampening.
- Weighs in at 3.5 lbs on handheld mode
- Weighs under 3 lbs aerial mode 
- Payload capacity = 7 lbs + 
- 16 inches span handle to handle (handheld mode)
- The Helix Jr can be quickly converted between handheld and aerial mode in less than 3 minutes

The Helix Jr will be available from Letus in 4-6 weeks and pricing will start at $2699 US.

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Brushless gimbals | Permalink | Comments (0)

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