Camera Gear

Which Gear Should We Review - NAB 2018

Which gear should we review next? At the 2018 National Association of Broadcaster’s Show, we saw some interesting new audio, lighting, and camera gear. Here’s a quick look at the highlights. Let us know which of these you’d like us to review!

This episode shot with the following gear:

Sennheiser MKH8050 Microphone

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder/Mixer

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - Used for the talking head clips

Sigma ART 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Lens (Canon EF Mount)

Panasonic GH5 - Used on the NAB show floor

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5S most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA by Cary Judd, used with permission.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

ATOMOS Ninja V ProRes and Avid Recorder: NAB 2018

ATOMOS makes HDMI/SDI recorders with very nice monitoring capabilities along with focus and HDR exposure tools. Up until NAB 2018, they've made 7" and 19" monitors. But now they've announced their first 5" monitor/recorder with the capabilities of their Inferno line of recorders (top of the 7" lineup) - Focus, exposure, high frame rate, and HDR tools as well as ProRes and Avid DNxXX recording. This makes shooting and editing faster and with high bitrate and high quality codecs that playback smoothly so you don't have transcode.

Now why would you want to use a recorder like this? Here's why I use them:

Gear covered and used to shoot this episode:

ATOMOS Ninja V 4K HDMI HDR Recorder Monitor (coming Q3 2018)

RODE Reporter Microphone

RODE iXLR Adapter (Record a dynamic XLR microphone to iPhone or iPad)

Panasonic GH5 - My favorite, small camera for handheld use with a great image stabilizer

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5S most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA by Cary Judd, used with permission.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

ProRes Raw

Today Apple announced a new version of their ProRes video codecs: ProRes Raw (and Raw HQ). The reason this is significant is that capturing raw footage on cinema cameras poses two main problems: 1) Massive, massive file sizes that can only be captured to the fastest cards and drives which are, of course, quite expensive and 2) Cannot generally be played back without first de-bayering or rendering in post (before you edit).

Of course there have been proxy workflows for a long time to get around this where the camera records raw plus a much lower quality proxy file at the same time. You do your edit with the proxy files and then once you've completed your edit, you swap out the proxies for the de-bayered raw files. It's a workable, but less than ideal workflow.

Since I bought my first ATOMOS recorder in about 2012, I've appreciated the benefits of working with a ProRes workflow (my Ninja II recorder took an HDMI feed from my DSLR and recorded a ProRes file to an SSD drive). This was a nice compromise solution because it captured slightly higher quality footage, but could still be edited without re-rendering the files. It wasn't raw, but it was pretty darn good in terms of quality.

Now, we can have the best of both worlds. And Apple also has a new update of Final Cut Pro X that plays back ProRes Raw footage in real time!

But then there's the problem of how to record ProRes Raw. This is where ATOMOS delivers. Their Sumo19 and Shogun Inferno can both record ProRes Raw with the new firmware update which will be released on Monday, April 9th, 2018.

Of course you'll also need a camera capable of sending a raw signal to the ATOMOS recorder. Out of the gate, the Sumo and Shogun Inferno will have support for the following cinema cameras:

  • Canon C300mkII, C500
  • Panasonic EVA1, Varicam LT
  • Sony FS5, FS7

I haven't shot a lot of raw simply because the workflow was too heavy for most of my work, with an occasion exception for "beauty shots" - e.g., an outdoor landscape with plenty of sky, deep shadows, and incredibly wide dynamic range. That may just change here really soon. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new workflow pans out.

Now what we need is an affordable playback device for HDR so we can use that Sumo as an HDR grading monitor (at least roughly decent HDR monitoring). AJA's monitoring converter box comes in at $2500 USD presently. I'm hoping for something in the sub $1000 range soon so I can put this Sumo to work in post.

See Apple's white paper on ProRes Raw here.

See see the details on ATOMOS's ProRes implementation on the Shogun Inferno and Sumo here

Panasonic GH5S - 2 New Audio Features

The Panasonic GH5S has two new audio features which make this camera a little easier to work with from an audio standpoint: Timecode input and line level inputs. What does this mean? First, with timecode, you can simplify the process of syncing your video clips to audio clips recorded with a separate audio recorder. This means you can get higher quality audio and still sync quickly and effortlessly in post. Second, you could instead use your audio recorder or mixer to capture sound and then from your mixer, send the audio to the GH5S at line level which also results in higher quality audio but in this case you don’t have to sync in post - it is already baked in to the video clip!

Let’s have a look at how well each of these new features work.

Links to gear discussed and used to record this session:
Panasonic GH5S Camera

Panasonic XLR1 Microphone Adapter - so that you can use XLR based microphones with the GH5S

Sound Devices MixPre-10T Audio Recorder - we used the MixPre-10T as the mixer/preamp but all of the audio was recorded with the GH5S in this episode

Oktava mk-012 Microphone - great budget microphone for indoor dialogue recording

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5S most of the time

Lupo Superpanel LED Light Panel - Dual Color. Decided to try a harder light look just to see how it went. Not always my favorite look, but you never know unless you try!

Rosco 1/2 Soft Frost Diffusion gel - slightly diffuses the light, taped to the LED panel

Ambient Recording NanoLockit Timecode Generator with Wireless Sync

Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - only for the shots of the GH5S, everything else shot with the GH5S

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 OS ART Lens

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Ursa Mini Pro: Impressions After 6+ Months

After 6+ months of use on various projects, here are the impressions on the Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro cinema camera from two Ursa Mini Pro shooters: My brother Cary Judd and me. This is not a traditional in-depth review, but more of our overall impressions.

The wide shot of both of us was done with the Panasonic GH5 and the two single shots were shot on Ursa Mini Pro.

Find Cary Judd at The Wormhole Boise.

Links to gear discussed and used to record this session:

Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera (body only)

Ursa Viewfinder (we didn’t talk about this but I really like this viewfinder - clear, clean image with effective focus peaking, false color, and zoom buttons)

Ursa Mini Pro SSD Recorder (allows you to record to standard, affordable 2.5” SSD drives)

Anton Bauer 90Wh Battery (about 2 hours of life with viewfinder and SSD recorder)

95 Wh V-mount Battery (Same as above but with a different mounting mechanism for cameras)

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 OS ART Lens (used on the single shot of Cary on my Ursa Mini Pro)

Panasonic GH5 (used to shoot the wide interview shots and product shots)

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

3 Gimbals Compared: Zhiyun Crane 2, Feiyu a2000, Gudsen Moza Air

Motorized three-axis gimbals have become incredibly popular and can help add some nice movement to your video projects to help tell your story. If you’re shooting with a hybrid mirrorless or DSLR camera, you can even work with a single-handle, pistol grip style gimbal. In this episode, we compare three of the most popular gimbals for DSLR and smaller hybrid cameras.

I would have a hard time saying that one is the best. If pushed and I could only keep one, I'd probably keep the Crane 2. But the Moza is probably more innovative in terms of software (motion time-lapse) and the Feiyu is more innovative in terms of hardware (controls on both the pistol grip and dual handle).

Links to gear discussed and used to record this session:
Zhiyun-Tech Crane 2 - This is the largest payload capacity option of these three, good for larger cameras

FeiyuTech a2000 - dual-handle or single handle gimbal, good for mirrorless hybrid cameras

Gudsen Moza Air (Innovative dual-handle or single handle gimbal, good for mirrorless hybrid cameras)

This episode shot with the following:

Panasonic GH5 Hybrid Camera - my main camera for gimbals

Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 OIS Lens - My go-to lens with the GH5

Sennheiser MKH 8050 Supercardioid Boom Microphone

Aputure C120d LED Light

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - This is my main camera for corporate video work

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

C200, Ursa Mini Pro: Workflow & Choosing a Cinema Camera

In this episode our special guest is Jacob Fenn, a filmmaker and colorist. We discuss workflow and how your workflow can help you choose a cinema camera like the Canon C200, the Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro, or the Sony FS5.

In short: map out your production and post production workflows. This will make choosing a camera easier.

See Jacob Fenn’s work over at FennWorld.

Links to gear discussed and used to record this session:
Canon C200 Cinema Camera (Jacob’s main camera for corporate, commercial, and short film work)

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera (This is my main camera for corporate video work)

Sony FS5 Cinema Camera

Sennheiser MKH 8050 Supercardioid Boom Microphone - The mic was farther away than I would have liked, probably 1.5 meters. But it did pretty well

Aputure C120D LED Light - this is my corporate video workhorse light

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box - this is almost always on my COB120d to soften the light for talking head video.

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

3-axis motorized gimbals have become incredibly popular camera tools to smooth out movement while shooting video with a mirrorless or DSLR camera. The problem I’ve run into with the larger cameras is that many of the single handle gimbals don’t have quite enough power to really work with the larger cameras. That’s where the Zhiyun Crane 2 comes in - perfect for larger mirrorless and DSLR cameras and even has a follow-focus knob which works with Canon 5D (mkII through mkIV).

Links to Gear Discussed and used to shoot this review:
Zhiyun Crane 2 for larger Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras (pre-order starting September 15th) at MomanPlay International Shipping, Crane 2 at Amazon US, UK, FR, ES

Zhiyun Smooth 3 (at Amazon, for smartphones)

Zhiyun Smooth Q (at Amazon, for smartphones)

Zhiyun Crane V2 (at Amazon, original version for small to medium mirrorless and DSLR cameras)

Schoeps CMC641 Super-cardioid Microphone (Recorded this review)

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder

Panasonic GH5 Camera (at Amazon, for product shots)

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Sound for Video Session: Q&A Safety Track vs Limiter, Which Camera, Which Mic and More

In this week's Sound for Video Session we discuss several questions submitted by you!

  • Safety track or limiter?
  • Clipping at -2dB?
  • Is there a better way to rig a Zoom H5 to camera?
  • What’s a good camera for video and photo with a 3.5mm mic input and headphone jack?
  • Which other microphones should I get?
  • When should I use a hyper-cardioid mic instead of a shotgun mic?
  • AT4053b outdoors?
  • Why is my Zoom F8 picking up an FM radio station?

“Homeless” recorded outdoors with an Audio Technica AT4053b Hyper-cardioid microphone:

Session on how to match levels on audio recorder and camera so you can monitor levels from camera:

Audio Adapter comparison

Links to gear we discussed or used to record this session:

Sennheiser MKH416 Shotgun Microphone - Perhaps the quintessential pro shotgun microphone

Audio Technica AT4053B Hyper-cardioid Microphone

Schoeps CMC641 One of the most commonly used super-cardioid microphones by the pros for indoor dialogue

Rycote Cyclone Wind Shield & Shock Mount

Zoom F8 Audio Recorder

Shure SM58 Vocal Microphone

beachtek DXA-Micro Audio Adapter for DSLR and Mirrorless cameras

Panasonic GH4 Camera 

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Timecode Demo with NanoLockit from Ambient Recording

What is timecode and when does it help make things easier for finishing your video or film project? When you’re shooting a project with a LOT of clips and you’re recording your sound separate from camera to get the highest quality sound, syncing can be a lot of work. Using the timecode generators like the Ambient NanoLockit can save you a lot of time. Here’s how it works at a high level.

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record This Session:

Ambient Recording NanoLockit Timecode Generator (2 pack)

Single NanoLockit

Sound Devices MixPre-6 Audio Recorder

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder/Mixer

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Photos of the Ambient Master Lockit are copyrighted by B&H Photo and used here with permission.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!