Kodak Ektra – hard to tell if it’s a phone or a camera, seen from the back … In a surprising move from Kodak, the company forever synonymous with photography has unveiled the Kodak Ektra, a photography-first smartphone. Chase Jarvis coined the phrase “The best camera is the one that’s with you”, and I couldn’t agree more. For many of us, that’s our phone. Building a phone around a proper camera instead of the other way around is something that hasn’t really been done to the extent that many photographers might like. It seems this didn’t go unnoticed by Kodak, and they’ve jumped at the chance to stake a claim, and define that niche for themselves. The Ektra is not the first smartphone to bear the Kodak brand, however. You have probably never heard of the IM5, released early last year in a pretty feeble attempt to grab hold of people’s nostalgia for the Kodak brand. Not a great phone, nor a great camera. The Kodak Ektra, however, looks like a much better attempt. It seems like Kodak might be onto something this time, although the specs themselves seem average compared to how far some manufacturers are currently pushing to claim the top smartphone camera spot. The hardware itself is made by manufacturer-for-hire Bullitt, who also make phones for Caterpillar among others. Kodak have some major competition for the hearts and minds of mobile photographers. There is certainly a legitimate market for a fantastic camera that happens to make phone calls, connect you with all your social media, and let you run all your favorite smartphone apps… but is the Ektra really everything it claims to be? Kodak Ektra – Gimmick or Game Changer? One could argue that the imaging specs of the Ektra are not actually pushing the envelope. The camera is based around a 21MP Sony sensor with 6-axis optical image stabilization and an f/2.0 lens. This is good, but far from revolutionary, considering the 41MP sensor in the Nokia Lumia 1020, or dual camera configurations from the major players in a cutthroat industry that will pull out all the stops to offer the best imaging tech available. Is Kodak offering the best cutting edge imaging technology? Not really, but it does stack up pretty well. Kodak Ektra: 21MP, UHD 4K video, f/2 fixed lens, optical image stabilization Sony Experia Z5 Compact: 23MP, UHD 4K video, f/2.3 fixed lens Apple iPhone 7: 12MP, UHD 4K video, f/1.8 fixed lens, optical image stabilization Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 2x 12MP, UHD 4K video, f/1.8 wide angle fixed lens + f/2.8 telephoto fixed lens, optical image stabilization Samsung Galaxy S6: 16MP, UHD 4K video, f/1.9 fixed lens, optical image stabilization Huawei P9: 2x 12MP, UHD 4K video, f/2.2 (x2) fixed lens, SteadyShot video stabilization Maybe it’s not about that. I’m sure the camera functions just fine, and produces perfectly acceptable images, as well as 4K video. The Ektra does have an attractive design and a distinct style which will appeal to the photo enthusiast, especially those like myself who like to shoot film and walk around with 40-year-old SLR’s hanging around the neck. It has a nostalgic leatherette covering, a throwback to a time long past. I think the real answer is in the software that comes bundled with the Ektra. The camera app itself features a DSLR style dial for scene selection with haptic touch control, all-manual functions and tight integration with Snapseed. When it comes down to it, these are features we have with a number of pro-oriented phone camera apps already, and to an actual professional, a dial might seem a tad bit gimmicky compared to the user experience of some popular camera apps. There’s also a Super 8 video app which gives you the look and feel of Super 8 film when shooting video, and right there I can tell, this is a product which is still attempting to pull on brand nostalgia more than truly ground breaking imaging technology. As a mobile imaging package, hardware + software, and the associated Kodak ecosystem of being able to order prints and photobooks right from the device, I believe the Kodak Ektra will appeal to the consumer photography enthusiast more than the pure professional. This is a camera phone for everyone, and brings pro features to image makers who might otherwise not have discovered the great standalone apps out there by themselves. However, it likely won’t appeal to professional photographers just based on imaging specifications alone. Is it a step up from the previous Kodak IM5? Absolutely. Is it competitive with other mainstream camera phones? Yes. Do I want one? Definitely. Will it replace my iPhone and favourite camera apps? … Probably not. Check out the details about the Kodak Ektra here.Read more
The Kodak PixPro 4KVR360 takes on virtual reality with a 20MP sensor and full spherical images. In this hands-on video, we take a closer look at the 360° action camera. Kodak PixPro 4KVR360 is Another 360° Action Camera This is not the first 360° action camera we’re seeing this year. At Photokina 2016 that kicked off today, Nikon introduced another new action camera alongside their Nikon KeyMission 360 and there are more manufacturers taking on the VR 360 action camera market. The Kodak PixPro 4KVR360 has two different wide field of view cameras in one body; 235 degrees and 155 degrees, both with a 20MP CMOS sensors that record 4K video and still photos. Combining the images of both cameras with stitching, the 360 degree, full spherical images can be used for virtual reality. In virtual reality mode, video can be captured in 3840 x 1920 at 24p, and still images at 27MP, both in 2:1 ratio. Using either the front camera or a combination of both cameras gives a variety of formats for video and stills, including round images and video in 1:1 aspect ratio. The front 155 degree camera can capture 1080p video at up to 60fps, with the option to change the field of view to a wider or narrower angle. 120fps slow motion is only available in 1440 x 1080 resolution in 2:1 aspect ratio. The video format is MP4, recorded in H.264 codec, there is no mention of a ‘flat’ or neutral profile for colour correction. Aimed at the sports and action market, the camera is splash-proof and shockproof up to 2m, it can be controlled via a smartphone app or the remote that’s included in the package with wi-fi, NFC and Bluetooth. Stitching can be done in camera but at a lower quality, or with the app or software in post production. Here are some more specs of the Kodak PixPro 4KVR360: F2.4 aperture 20MP sensors Camera modes – VR Mode, Round Mode, Front Mode. 3-axis level gauge stabilization. ISO sensitivity from 100 to 3200. White balance settings – Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Flourescent, Incandescent, Underwater. Records onto MicroSD. Shoots up to 160 still images and 55 minutes of video (at 4K/30p) based on battery performance. Micro HDMI port. Stereo microphone input (2.5mm connector). Removable rechargable Li-ion battery. The Kodak PixPro 4KVR360 is still in development, but is expected to hit the shelves at the end of 2016 or early 2017, with pricing around $500.00, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet.Read more
Watch previous episodes of ON THE COUCH & ON THE GO by clicking here! Visit our Vimeo and YouTube playlists, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Please visit our sponsors’ websites to keep new episodes of ON THE COUCH coming! Thanks to G-Technology and Røde Microphones. In this second part of our first VR themed episode of ON THE COUCH, we talked again to Kodak, Nokia and Sphericam about their VR camera and software solutions. If you missed the first part of this episode, click here to watch it! In this part we focused on the concrete technical specifications of the different camera solutions between the Kodak SP360 4K Action Cam, the Nokia OZO, and the Sphericam. There are multiple challenges when it comes to the still evolving VR landscape: There are few software standards right now for finishing formats, yet both Facebook and YouTube now support uploading VR videos to their sites and make them accessible to a wider audience. Recently even Adobe introduced VR editing support into Adobe Premiere. Kim Gronholm from Nokia, George Krieger from Sphericam, presenter Nino Leitner from cinema5D and Kevin Cruz from Kodak (from left to right) Another big challenge is the stitching between the cameras a VR camera has. As George from Sphericam pointed out, this is still one of the biggest pain points, and it requires a lot of software to do this in realtime and as accurately as possible. There are very different challenges with different cameras as they have different amounts of camera lenses in different distances on them as well – for example the Kodak solution has only two wide angle lenses while the Nokia OZO has many more. We also covered how easy it is to disorient the audience if the VR experience isn’t completely seamless and immediate – and how this is the reason that it’s only been possible with recent technology that is advanced and fast enough to provide the VR experience. Kim Gronholm from Nokia pointed out that there is also a learning curve and that audiences develop a higher tolerance over time as they are getting more used to Virtual Reality experiences. George Krieger from Sphericam mentioned how Virtual Reality is about to revolutionise many industry apart from entertainment, including architecture, archeology, medical applications and many more. Please visit our sponsors’ websites to keep new episodes of ON THE COUCH coming! Thanks to G-Technology and Røde Microphones.Read more
There is no doubt that motion picture film still has a certain unmatched allure, and it’s a medium that is clearly sticking around… indefinitely, if Kodak have their way. However it is prohibitively expensive for most of us digital junkies. Kodak have partnered with Kickstarter to try and change that. The new program is open to any artists launching a Kickstarter campaign in order to bring their vision to life utilising 35mm or S16mm film. Kodak will supply a certain amount of film stock to qualifying filmmakers for free. Four directors have been announced as the premiere participants in the initiative and will launch Kickstarter campaigns this spring. They include Derek Ahonen (The Transcendents), Antonio Ferrera (Nomad of Art), Daniel Levin (Bagatelle) and R. Paul Wilson (DarkFall). But that’s not all. As part of the program, William Morris Endeavor’s Global Finance and Distribution Group will mentor filmmakers on packaging, financing and sales strategy. Free film…? Sounds good. But as a digital filmmaker, here’s what you need to know before you jump into your glorious technicolor celluloid dream. How does it work? According to Kodak’s press release: Once program participants are selected, Kodak will provide either 35mm – or – s16mm film (negative, intermediate or print stock) of the filmmaker’s choice, free of charge, correlating to the amount of money raised by the Kickstarter campaign: 20% match of the first $100,000 raised by the filmmaker on Kickstarter in list price 35mm (Not to exceed $20,000). 15% match of the first $100,000 raised by the filmmaker on Kickstarter in list price s16mm (Not to exceed $15,000). Additional film stock above and beyond this will be supplied at a discounted rate, as it’s not likely that the free stock will be sufficient for an entire feature. Counting the cost This all sounds great, but it is important to consider the full implications and costs of shooting film, and the additional lab and scanning requirements. As a producer myself, and one who has been through all this many times in post, as well as in considering film vs digital when budgeting projects, I can add some additional insight you might not find elsewhere. Kodak are legitimately trying to help here, but it’s still going to be expensive, even with some free film stock. Costs are going to add up in ways you are not at all familiar with coming from a digital background. Post workflow is also different, and can be substantially more complicated for the uninitiated; it’s very likely you’ll need professional input and support for a film post workflow. You need to learn new terms such as keycode, a coding system that will make sure your footage always links back to your physical camera negative throughout the editorial and finishing process. You’ll need to account for syncing audio to your film rushes, and much of this you won’t want to try and do yourself: you’ll want to employ lab, dailies or facility based services to do it all correctly. Your digital workflow needs to be film friendly and, realistically, your personal editing and grading equipment that perhaps works great with 6K R3D RAW is likely not ready to deal with playback of uncompressed 4K DPX film scans. This means you may need to negotiate with a post facility for finishing. You may also need to consider bringing in a dedicated post producer or post supervisor that knows the ropes. How much film does a feature require? Before going into any of the numbers, I encourage you to install Kodak’s great Cinema Tools mobile app (click for more details). If your name is not Tarantino, pushing any would-be distributor for a 35mm theatrical release is ludicrous. So let’s calculate for 3-perf 35mm acquisition only, not taking into account requirements for D.I. (Digital Intermediate) and 35mm release prints. For a 90 min feature shooting 3-perf 35mm at 24fps to a 10:1 ratio, this is how it all breaks down: 90 min runtime x 10 (due to the 10:1 shooting ratio) = 900 min total. 3-perf 35mm @ 24fps runs at 21.3 frames per foot, or 67 feet per minute. 900 min x 67 feet = 60,300 feet. According to the film calculator in the Kodak Cinema Tools mobile app it’s actually 60,750 feet. 60,750 feet equates to 152 full 400ft cans of film stock, at a price list value of $316.56 per can (Vision 3 500T 5219) that’s $48,117.12 worth of film stock. The maximum Kodak will offer through this Kickstarter partnership (assuming a budget over $100,000) is $20,000, or just over 40% of the total required. You’ll need to budget to buy the remaining 60% of your necessary stock at whatever discounted rates Kodak offers. Camera equipment and crew There are very few shortcuts when shooting film, and this is why the digital revolution was so complete and permanent. This is also why production budgets today are 10% of what they used to be. There are some options when it comes to purchasing 16mm camera equipment and lenses, but if considering 35mm, you will be renting. There is no cheap equipment when shooting film, and the same high end PL-mount cinema primes and zooms you might hire for a high end digital shoot are the ones you’ll be hiring for an Arri 435, along with all the cinema grade accessories and extras… matte boxes, filters, and heavy-duty supports and dollies. You’ve entered the world of camera, grips and lighting trucks, generators and all the associated logistics… along with a much larger and more specialised crew. Welcome to everything you’ve likely been able to avoid or at least drastically scale down with your digital cinema camera package. Remember, if you’ve ever complained or scoffed at a native 400 ISO being too low with a digital cinema camera… your most sensitive film stock tops out at ASA 500. There is no “low light” talk when shooting film… there is only light, and lots of it, as much light as possible. You’ll be introduced to the clapper loader, who will be loading and unloading your camera mags in a light proof changing bag, a camera assistant who knows film, and you’ll need a DP who remembers what a light meter is and still knows how to use it. You’ll need assistants and runners, there’s no shortage of things that need doing on set. If you need on set playback, it’ll be thanks to a video assist operator. Lab and additional post costs We need to talk about lab costs and scanning. Development and prep for telecine/scanning usually runs about $0.17 per foot, and a typical 4K/6K scan could be $0.70 per foot for pin registered 4K or 6K DPX (to hard disk… need to budget for those, too). Now, you don’t need to scan everything. A much cheaper HD resolution “best light” transfer is all you need for editorial, and that will only run $0.10 per foot. You only need a pin registered 4K or 6K scan of the shots called for in the locked edit (with handles). This will be performed by providing the correct EDL data (with Keycode) to the lab doing the scanning after edit lock. 60,750 feet at $0.17 per foot for development and $0.10 per foot for a HD “best light” transfer totals $16,402.50 to get you editing. Once edit is locked and you want high res scans for your final conform and grading, we’ll assume scanning 100 mins to be safe at $0.70 per foot. 100 mins is 6750 feet, so that’s a total of $4,725 for your high res scanning. Pros and Cons I consider myself lucky to have been messing around with 16mm before I really dived headlong into digital cinematography. And I jumped on the RED bandwagon early on, never to look back, so there’s no bias against the clear advantages of digital tech for me. However, even in this age of 8K, 16 stop sensors and the promise of Lytro’s light field cinema imaging, I would shoot celluloid in an instant if there was budget, and if it was the right choice for the project. In some cases, for various reasons, it’s an artistic choice, and I for one am pleased Kodak are still making and selling motion picture stock, and we all still have the option. There are pros and cons to both mediums, and arguing them is not the purpose of this article. In fact it’s been argued to death many times over. Kodak have been pushing hard to fan the flames of a small, but legitimate revival of interest in celluloid. Time and the success or failure of efforts such as the new Super8 initiative and this collaboration with Kickstarter will determine if this fizzles out or catches on in the low to medium budget indie market. There is interest and real potential demand, but for any producer that counts all the costs, $20,000 of free film stock may be a drop in the bucket. There’s a good reason film is still the choice of only a few elite Hollywood directors, and I hope I’ve broken down some of the costs involved in an understandable way. Think long and hard before you start planning that Kickstarter campaign. I wouldn’t consider shooting even bare-bones 35mm on any project budgeted under a few million dollars, and for producers raising that kind of financing, Kickstarter can only be a part of the overall financing solution. To be fair, s16mm is a far more realistic format for this program and it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this partnership. Filmmakers interested in participating in the Kickstarter-Kodak initiative and want more information should email: email@example.comRead more
The Kodak Super 8mm camera has caused a bit of a stir over the last few days. The film manufacturer wound back the clock by announcing the future release of a Super 8mm film camera. We’ve got some detailed pictures of the prototype at CES 2016, thanks to our source Lior Koren-Dtown, as well a quick hands-on video. It’s been confirmed that there will be two versions; the broad $400-750 price range is actually two price points for different models. The $400 prosumer is pictured below. The 3-minute recording film cartridges will cost $80, including development costs. You’ll be able to send film to Kodak for processing, where it will become available for download via a cloud service. There were a couple of interesting rumours knocking about, speculating that the Kodak Super 8mm camera could record to SD simultaneously. This is, in fact, true but not in the non-logical sense of shooting to images to both digital and film. The SD is actually reserved for audio recording (via 3.5mm input on the front). The idea is to then sync both in post, when you have downloaded the processed film. It remains to be seen how easy this will be without a constant visually cue like a clapper. Super 8mm film stock will be available in 4 main cartridges. One BW and 3 others for colour filming in ASA 50/200/500. Film stock also dictates white balance; T and D as pictured below depict which colour temperature you’ll be capturing. Here’s PetaPixels hands on: Does the Kodak Super 8mm have any Value? So with all this hype, is Super 8mm actually any good? Short answer: by today’s standards, absolutely not. If a digital camera were to produce the same quality footage as a Super8mm is capable of, then we would probably slate it to high heaven. However it’s the niche process and visual aesthetic (as well as the retro factor adding ‘cool points’) that many will warm to. Many high profile Directors are also applauding its educational value in bringing back a lost format to the broad modern audience. With that said, below are some videos I’ve pulled that have been shot on Super 8mm. Check them out! For more information, including a full spec sheet of the Kodak Super 8mm camera, check out our previous post. Many thanks to Lior Koren from dtown for the photos!Read more
In its 50th year of manufacturing Super 8mm film, Kodak is celebrating by releasing a new Super 8mm film camera. The announcement is part of an initiative hosted by Kodak that plans to get the old film format into more modern day filmmaker’s hands. Kodak Super 8mm: Leading a Retro Revolution It’s been thirty years since we last saw a new super 8mm camera knocking about and fortunately, Kodak has stuck to a retro aesthetic design with the new Super 8mm Camera. Taking a leaf out of Apple’s book and simply calling it the Kodak Super 8mm Camera, users will benefit from a fixed 6mm 1:1.2 – Ricoh lens and optional 6-48mm zoom, both in previously popular C mount. The camera will record variable frames per second (9, 12, 18, 24, 25 FPS) all at crystal sync. A 3.5″ display with standard definition input will take care of monitoring and control, as well as a jog stick for navigation. A 50′ film cartridge that currently costs around $35 will get you 90 seconds of film at 24p (although reports place future pricing in the $50-75 range). Kodak has big plans for the film format this year so the cost of the film may well change when the camera is released. Here’s more on what they have to say: “The company has built a roadmap that includes a range of cameras, film development services, post production tools and more. “It is an ecosystem for film,” said Jeff Clarke, Eastman Kodak Chief Executive Officer. “Following the 50th anniversary of Super 8, Kodak is providing new opportunities to enjoy and appreciate film as a medium.” A prototype of the film camera will debut at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, where visitors will get the opportunity to try out the Super 8mm Camera and watch ‘home movies’. Kodak Super 8mm Camera Specifications Film Gauge: Super 8 (Extended Max-8 Gate) Film Load: Kodak Cartridges with 50 ft. (15 M) Speed: Variable Speeds (9, 12, 18, 24, 25 FPS) all with Crystal Sync Lens Mount: C-Mount Focal Length: Fixed / 6mm, 1:1.2 – Ricoh lens (optional 6-48mm zoom) Focus/Aperture: Manual Focus & Iris View Finder: 3.5″ Display, Standard definition video input & +/- 45 degrees swivel Exposure Control: Cartridge Detection (Speed Notch) Built-in light meter for supported speeds of all Kodak film types Manual speed/manual iris setting Battery & Charger: Integrated battery and charger via standard USB wall adaptor Control Panel: Via viewfinder 3.5″ TFT LCD Setting: Via jog wheel as user interface The Kodak Super 8 Camera is rumoured to cost $400-$750. More info can be found on the Kodak website.Read more
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