Cameras! Recorders! Phantoms! Live Critics! Free talks! Come say hello and bring me strong coffee!! It’s NAB 2014!

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Conversations from the 35th floor from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

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This is my 7th year at NAB. All consecutive. I came close to not coming this year as I did at IBC last year as it’s good to take a break from these things. NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters show, is a place where friends and colleagues from all over the world congregate. It’s the catching up with people that really brings me back each year.

That being said the show is always good to see and this year it’s look pretty interesting. In 2012 and 2013 it was Blackmagic Design who stole the shows with the camera announcements, whether they will be announcing more cameras tomorrow I don’t know. I hope not. Why? Because they have 3 cameras out there already and all of them are flawed in basic operation. This needs to be rectified urgently and top of that the Blackmagic 4K has image issues. Again, needs to be fixed. So hopefully tomorrow they will make a big announcement that you will be able to format your cards in the camera and delete clips! 🙂

Edit: James Miller

Well Blackmagic didn’t launch a camera this year at NAB, they launched 2! a monster, the Blackmagic 4k URSA with an interchangeable sensor module for 4k S35 using EF or PL mounts and a broadcast sized sensor module using the (B4) Mount. The 2nd camera being a standalone studio camera unit using a 12.48mm x 7.02mm sensor in 4k and Full HD with an MFT mount.

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The Blackmagic URSA 4k S35
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The Blackmagic Studio Camera

 

The URSA is one chunky camera. Looking like something Tony Stark invented and coming in at 16.53lbs.

The specs look very similar to the 4k Production Camera but as the sensor has room to cool they allow the camera to record at 60fps in 1080 mode. Something that the 4k Production camera cannot do. It also has 2 x analog XLRs that are switchable between mic and line levels together with the all important Phantom power support.

What is missing from this camera is a lack of an SSD drive, instead Blackmagic have opted for the new 2.0 compact flash cards (CFast 2.0).

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Amazingly its sports a flip out 1920×1200 10” screen and 2 800×480 5” touch screens. Its a beast.

 

 

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The Blackmagic 4k URSA with an interchangeable sensor module for 4k S35 using EF or PL mounts and a broadcast sized sensor module using the (B4) Mount. Interestingly they also have a HDMI 4K input module to act as a standalone recorder.

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Prices at a very well positioned $5,995 for the EF version and $6,495 for the PL version. Shipping is slated for July. The Studio camera comes in at $1,995 for the HD version and $2,995 for the 4k version.

The Studio camera is described as the world’s first 12G-SDI broadcast camera for live Ultra HD production with 10” viewfinder, 12G- SDI, MFT lens mount, support for up to 2160p60, 4 hour battery, talkback, tally and more.

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We also have the Cion by AJA Video Systems. A 4K 60P and 120fps in HD at a marked cost of $8995.

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Cion 4k camera by AJA Video Systems

The Cion records in ProRes & AJA RAW. The CION can record at 4K (4096×2160), UltraHD (3840×2160), 2K (2048×1080) and HD (1920×1080). 2K and HD are hardware scaled from the full 4K sensor. Frame rates up to 50 and 60p at full 4K resolution. Very nice looking camera too.

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Atomos have also added the tiny Ninja Star to their list of very capable recorders. The Atomos Pocket Sized $250 3.5oz HDMI 10bit Apple ProRes Recorder uses an internal battery and Gen 1 CFast media. What a handy little product.

Atomos Ninja Star NAB 2014 (Embargo 9am PDT 7th April 2014)

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So what do we know is actually happening? Well Sony announced their A7S camera just over four months since the A7 and A7R started shipping. Although this is a VERY different camera. I bought the A7R at the end of November whilst over in Hong Kong for Digital Rev. I was very impressed with a huge amount from the camera, especially it’s EVF, build & size. The stills (many of the stills at the bottom of this post are from the A7R with Sigma 35mm F1.4 lens) especially were incredible with it’s massive 36MP sensor (essentially the same one as in the Nikon D800).

The video was good but not great. Line skipping causing issues. The thing is with the camera it’s almost an 8k sensor, brining that down to HD was always gong to be a struggle. Bringing it down to 4K? Now that is easier and normal yields exceptional results when done in 4K sensors to HD. Just look at the C100 and C300 from Canon.

The A7S is different in many ways to the other 2 despite looking the same on the same on the outside inside it’s got quite a few massive differences.

  • INSANELY ISO sensitivity setting from 50 to 409600 and unprecedented dynamic range
  • Full frame 4K (UHD: 3840 x 2160) via Micro HDMI video output
  • 120 FPS at 720P in AVC-HD mode.
  • XAVC S Full HD recording at 50Mbps, time code and optional XLR audio inputs from the same unit used on the other Sony stills cameras.
  • Full frame version of E-mount like the other A7 cameras meaning strong compatibility with other lenses as there are so few FE Sony lenses (FE is the full frame version of E mount lenses) For example the Canon Metabones V3 lives on my A7R.

The insanely high ISO setting is interesting. It’s two stops higher than the already insanely high FS700 ISO 10,000. Quite what that actually looks like will be interesting but what’s key is that low megapixel count, 1/3 of the A7R. Your stills from the camera will be much smaller that the A7R but because it has way less MPs that is partly why the low light performance, I am told i, is so damn incredible. Less megapixels = larger photosites which absorb light better. All those small photosites with super high MP count suffer in comparison.

Is this enough for stills these days…I would say yes, depending on what your photography needs are, what I will say is it will mean a lot more work will need to be done optically and composition wise by the photographer as it will be much harder to rely on cropping with so many less megapixels than modern DSLRs have now.

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Internally it can record XAVC-s, the prosumer version of the superb XAVC which is inside my F55.  I recently bought the new Sony Action Camera thingy. it’s cool and also has that same codec. It’s pretty solid indeed. The key feature here though is that out of the MICRO HDMI it outputs 4K, well 4K ultra HD of 3840 x 2160 (same as the Blackmagic 4K) compared to the 4K that the 1DC, C500, DS700, F55, F5, Red Epic, Red One etc capture. It’s not a big deal though. After all how many of us have shot 2K for HD?  Micro HDMI though? What a shitty connection that is, excuse my language, but it is! Judicious use of  “blu-tack” will be needed to surround your Micro HDMI plug to protect it and it’s socket. That is until someone like LockPort bring out the HDMI protectors like their excellent ones for Canon and Nikon DSLRS. 

A 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 native sensor is about 8 Megapixels. For HD? A quarter of that at around 2MP. That has always been the problem with HD DSLRs is the high MP count has means a lot of pixel binning because there was no way Canon were going to bring out a 2 MP 5D mk4 to give us proper HD!

Anyway tomorrow (Monday)  I will be in-depth with the camera as I meet the designers of the it so I can ask all the questions I want. I just hope they will give me one to shoot with. I am super keen to try this out. It’s just a real shame there is no internal 4K recording…now that would be mind-blowing . That means the camera with a sensor half the size of this, the Panny GH4 stills has the edge on 4K recording over it due to it’s ability to record internally. With a Metabones speed booster (still no EF mount) you can make that sensor give you a field of view not far off S35/ APS-C. I have attempted to borrow a GH4 to review with absolutely no luck whatsoever. It may well come down to having to buy the camera to review it. Now that’s crazy. It won’t happen here as I have been told I will get one to play with like I did with the other A7 cameras.

Price wise not sure. Around $2500 has been mentioned…you can see my review of the A7 and A7R below these two promotional videos from Sony.

The Sony mirrorless camera review…within a review…within a review…. from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

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Now 4K out of the micro HDMI (I am summing this is HDMI 2.0) is cool but what can record it? I don’t even know if my superb convergent design Odyssey 7Q will…after all it’s not raw and they have no ProRes HQ 4K recording in it yet.

Enter Atomos with the  Shogun! A 4K full HD screened powerhouse of a recorder.

Their current “Blade” series of recorders have been exceptional, Now they are going even further, 4k over HDMI recorder including 12G SDI and a 1920×1200 7” IPS screen thats full of waveforms, tri-level focus peaking and vectorscopes to name a few.

Having a 7” 1920×1200 is going to be critical for achieving focus at 4k resolutions. That’s exactly the same resolution as the gorgeous Nexus 7 tablet screen.

With the A7S & the Shogun Atomos this could be a potentially killer combination with the Sony A7S.  I haven’t seen the device yet. Tomorrow. I can’t wait though! I believe it’s priced at around $2000.

Atomos Shogun NAB 2014 (Embargo 9am PDT 7th April 2014)

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Atomos Shogun and Sony A7S at NAB 2014

carbon_ad_728x250-670x230-2Speaking of Atomos that brings me onto the first mention of one of my appearances, talk thingies. At the Atomos stand at 3PM on Tuesday. The topic is “Why external recorders will bring you wealth, success, awards, great sex & of course perfect happiness”. Actually that is a lie. The real topic is the much more mundane  “Buying the latest camera won’t make you better…key steps to improving your skill and getting the work you want”. It’s free, lasts 30 minutes I hope to see you there!

Every day at 1PM (apart from Thursday) I will be at the Teradek studio doing a special 3 date comeback tour of the much missed “Critics” with my co-host…the I can’t believe he’s not dead because he must be like 80 or something, Steve Weiss!!

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We will be showing 2 short films from Vimeo per half hour episode and then reviewing them. The usual thing will happen. Weiss will be all harsh and frank…until the camera is on and that truth disappears. Jeez Weiss. What I said in season one where I called him a word that rhymes with “Wussy” is still true today as it was 5 years ago when we did our 1st episode. 5 years? He was old then…he must be like “Weekend at Bernies” now?! Surely!

Come along to the studio and watch outside if you are at NAB otherwise for those who aren’t in Vegas you an watch it live here: www.NABLiveShow.com

HERE IS THE 1ST EPISODE FROM DAY ONE OF NAB 2014 (and now episode 2!). RECORDED LIVE! DON’T MISS THEM LIVE TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY AT 1PM US PACIFIC TIME!

NAB 2014: Philip Bloom & Steve Weiss present: Critics from Teradek on Vimeo.

Philip Bloom & Steve Weiss present: CRITICS – Day 2 from Teradek on Vimeo.

I will also be on a show at 330pm on Monday with Dan Chung talking 4K. Same address as above!

Teradek NAB Live Show 2014 English

 

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On Tuesday at 430PM I will be at the Miller stand for the drawing of the lucky winner of their raffle for an Miller LP ’54 Classic tripod to commemorate 60 years of tripod manufacturing!  You can buy tickets for the draw which is in aid of the NAB Education Foundation.

You have until 330pm (US Pacific Time) to enter via this link. I have entered myself. Would it wrong if I drew out my own name?

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The winner will be announced (by me) on Tuesday, April 8 at 4:30 p.m. PST at Miller Camera Support’s NAB Show booth, C9520.

Then on Wednesday at 230PM I will be back at the Miller stand to do my “Do you ACTUALLY need 4K talk” It’s an hour long, free and there will be a Q&A afterwards.

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Last but not least a quick mention of another product that was launched on Sunday, DJI’s Phantom Vision 2+. I have been getting into the old quadcopter fun for a couple of months now and have only lost one so far…impressive! Lots of crashes though. It’s been a blast so far.

Their new model is the same camera as the Vision 2 but with a built in 3 axis gimbal. I have actually had this to play with for the past week or so. I have been flying it every day in the Vegas outskirts for my video review of it and the GoPro 3 based Zen Muse gimbal one. The review hasn’t been edited yet, it’s all shot though. It will be up this week and with it an excellent post from professional aerial video chap Simon Beer about the joy and caution of this “craze” that is just getting bigger and bigger!

Here are some photos I have taken of the Vision 2+, I have footage to come from both for my review.  Very quickly, it’s an incredibly neat system and the first person view with the app on the smartphone with telemetry is exceptional. It’s not as good as a GoPro Hero3+ that I use on my own Phantom 2. Nowhere near as good. In 2.7K mode that GoPro is incredible, but for am in all one solution that is truly simple. This can’t be bear and compared to the non gimbal Phantom 2 Vision? Night and day…well certainly for video. The stills from it are DNG raw 8MP files. Really excellent quality. There are a couple of selfies in the photos below!

Anyway it’s 1 am. The show starts in 8 hours. I need to sleep! If you are NAB come to one of those talks, or the Teradek booth, otherwise I will be around and most likely at the Kessler Booth playing with my Slider 🙂

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Selfie with the Phantom 2 Vision+
Selfie with the Phantom 2 Vision+
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Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+

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Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+
Phantom 2 Vision+ with Eric Kessler
Phantom 2 Vision+ with Eric Kessler
Phantom 2 with GoPro and ZenMuse
Phantom 2 with GoPro and ZenMuse
Phantom 2 with GoPro and ZenMuse
Phantom 2 with GoPro and ZenMuse

 

 

 

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