Wait a second… Gary Fong is doing a Hollywood movie? Well, it gets even better: the upcoming movie was shot only with Sony a6300 and Sony A7s II cameras and features two old acquaintances: Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. Expect greatness! Best F(r)iends with Gary Fong Gary Fong, the photographer and entrepreneur, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. Hollywood? Well, I think I have to go back a little in order to fully convey the story. In 2003, actor/writer/director Tommy Wiseau teamed up with Greg Sestero to produce a movie. The Room is to this day still considered both one of the worst films of all times, and a cult classic B-movie that is just great fun to watch. Well, since a picture is worth a thousand words, have a look: Just like Wiseau, Gary Fong is a jack of all trades. He is a former wedding photographer, invented the so called lightsphere light-forming flash accessory and has also written several screenplays. But now he has taken a step further by teaming up with Wiseau and Greg Sestero in order to create a feature film called Best F(r)iends, this time as a director. According to Wikipedia, the whole movie was shot in secret in Los Angeles and Kelowna, British Columbia. Since cinema5D is all about cameras, it’s time to get to the heart of this story. You see, the whole movie was shot on Sony a6300 and Sony A7s II cameras, most of the time with Sony G Master lenses, namely the 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, and 24-70 f/2.8. The trailer is quite confusing and I don’t want to dive into the story too much. I think you have to decide for yourself if this is something for you or not. Have a look: How to describe such a trailer? Here are a few comments from PetaPixel.com: “Not sure if I should feel dirty or just weird, but… It’s got Wiseau, and I feel an odd urge to see it.” “Nobody watching anything with Wiseau in would expect anything above b-grade, it’s part of the fun.” “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART LISA” I have nothing else to add except one thing: it’s not a Hollywood movie yet. The team is currently working on a distribution deal, with a clear aim to have it released in theatres. Other examples I don’t know if this is the most outstanding example of what these cameras are capable of, but it’s still impressive that whole movies are being made with these tiny devices as opposed to fully rigged up cinema camera setups. It’s not the first time that a consumer camera is used to produce a film, of course. As an example, have a look at this beautiful example. Can you guess when this movie was shot, and with what camera? This movie was shot… wait for it… in 2013 on a Panasonic GH2. Quite impressive! You have to draw your own conclusions from comparing these two movies, but I think there is an important point to be made: in times of tiny, yet very capable, digital cameras, it’s not the camera that makes the movie, it’s you and your passion. It may end up being a very strange b-movie or a must-watch feature, but in the end it’s the result that counts, not the camera tech that made it possible. What do you think? Any Tommy Wiseau fans in the house? source: Head over to PetaPixel.com for more information and some stills from the movie.Read more
External recordings on Sony a7 series cameras are awesome for several reasons, but unfortunately the image is crushed and there can be a loss in dynamic range when recording externally via HDMI. The famous Slog problem cuts off blacks and highlights and gives you a wrong Slog 2 or Slog 3 image. But we’ve developed an extremely easy fix. This LUT can be applied either during external recordings or even in post and give you back the full dynamic range of a true Slog image. The Slog Problem Explained Back in March, I wrote a scientific article on the crushed blacks phenomenon concerning the Sony a7S, Sony a7S II, Sony a7R II and Sony a6300 cameras. Basically, the contrast information is saved incorrectly on external recordings via HDMI, thus defeating the whole purpose of a standardized Slog Gamma. This phenomenon has been the main reason why some people have avoided using external recorders with these cameras. There is a fix that involves either DaVinci Resolve or level filters in Premiere that I described here, but these can impact your rendering time considerably. [Important UPDATE:] You do not need this on the Convergent Design Odyssey Recorder as their latest firmware provides a fix in the form of a “Legalize HDMI” function you will find in the INPUTS menu. [UPDATE:] The Slog Fix LUT also fixes external recordings in F Log from the Fujifilm X-T2. There is a recovery of about 1 stop of dynamic range in the highlights. The C5D Slog Fix Here is better way to fix the Slog Problem at any stage of your workflow, and it’s the fastest we have found in the form of our very first official C5D LUT. Essentially, it recovers any Slog 2 or Slog 3 files recorded externally, and gives you back a true Slog image with the cameras full dynamic range. On top of that, this LUT gives you the unique possibility to burn the correct Gamma right into your external recordings. By loading this LUT onto an external recorder like the Atomos Shogun, you can fix the Slog problem during recording, work with a correct file from the start, and save the additional rendering time otherwise needed in post production. This Slog Issue is especially problematic in Slog 2 Gamma, as it kills some of the highlights and thus reduces the dynamic range of the image where it matters (highlight rolloff in critical shots): 100% crop of 4K image (Slog 2 Gamma) This is how the Slog affects the dark areas of the image and how the Slog Fix recovers the correct Gamma: 100% crop of 4K image (Slog 2 Gamma) In our tests, an external recording with the C5D Slog Fix LUT on an Atomos Shogun was virtually identical to a file otherwise transcoded in DaVinci Resolve by changing the Video Levels manually (See more sample images below) Note: We cannot be held responsible for wrong use of the LUT. Please test this yourself before implementing into your own workflow. We decided not to give away the C5D Slog Fix LUT for free, but if you buy us a cup of coffee it’s yours to use in your projects. We’ll also be happy for a higher contribution if you feel this fix helped you in your work. DOWNLOAD IT HERE [UPDATE:] As cinema5D reader Corey Robson pointed out, there is an alternative method on the Atomos Shogun, that gets you half way to the goal: The Shogun offers a “5D MkIII” Color Corrector option in the “Source” window. While I do not know the science of it, the tests showed that it recovers some of the highlights, but not the true Slog Gamma. If you’re working semi professionally it should be “good enough”, as the highlights are most important. For those who want to use a second LUT as a preview on the Shogun, I would recommend this method instead of the C5D LUT, or alternatively the C5D LUT can be used in post for a 100% accurate result. Sample Images Sony a7S – Slog 2 – Internal H.264 Sony a7S – Slog 2 – External – unfixed Sony a7S – Slog 2 – External Fixed with Slog FIX LUT in post Sony a7S – Slog 2 – External – Fixed with Slog FIX LUT burned in, on the recorder FAQ Do I need this if I don’t use Slog 2 or Slog 3 Gamma? No. The Slog Problem is only present in external recordings with Slog 2 and 3 Gammas via HDMI. What about external recordings via SDI? External recordings via SDI are not affected. Please don’t use the Slog Fix on those. Will this work even on files that have already been recorded? Yes. You can use this on files you have recorded with an external recorder in the past. The files were only saved with the wrong metadata and the information can be pulled back with the help of our LUT or the workarounds described here. Who is it for? For people who want to retain the original Slog 2 or Slog 3 Gamma in order to grade accurately, match cameras or use pre defined LUTs. If you apply LUTs meant for Slog 2 or 3, you will not get the correct results without fixing your files first. Do I need this on the Sony FS7 or FS5? If you’re using an external HDMI recording you will also need this on a Sony FS7 and Sony FS5. If you’re using SDI as an output interface you will not require the fix. Will I lose color information or quality when I use the LUT on a recorder (burned in)? No. According to our tests the results are the same as if you would apply the fix in post. Note that in general there is a slight variance between externally recorded colors in comparison to internally recorded H.264 files on Sony cameras. We think the external recordings with our LUT look more color accurate. Download the sample images above to compare them and see the nuances. Make sure you use this workflow properly before burning the LUT into your recorded files. How do I use this on an Atomos Shogun? 1. To use the C5D SlogFix for monitoring purposes: Copy the C5D-SlogFix.cube file to the root folder of your Atomos Shogun Media (An SSD or harddisk) Tap the yellow “…” icon at the bottom right hand side of the screen Tap on one of the 8 LUT slots (preferably an empty one) Tap on the folder icon In the new window that opens tap the “C5D-SlogFix.cube” file twice. This will load the LUT onto your Atomos Shogun recorder To monitor tap the LUT slot now associated with the C5D-SlogFix and tap the monitoring icon on the top right hand side to switch monitoring on or off The C5D-SlogFix.cube file can be deleted from the media 2. To burn C5D SlogFix into your file (RECOMMENDED for a faster grading workflow): Follow the monitoring setup of 1 After your camera is connected, tap the “hdmi” icon in the top left hand corner In the window that opens, under the section “RECORD 4KUHDp…” tap on “3D LUT: Off”, so that it shows “3D LUT: On” There should be a red, flashing icon in the top right hand corner that says “MON LUT” Make sure the C5D-SlogFix LUT is selected in the yellow “…” menu Download Click the image below to get the C5D LUT Slog Fix:Read more
My resent business trip to Japan was full of pleasant surprises. First, I was able to conduct and publish one of the first Sony FS5 reviews and footage, then, I was invited to Sony’s HQ and among other activities, had a chance to make a quick interview with Iwatsuki-san who is a senior manager for product planning at Sony industry consumer electronics. The talk with Iwatsuki-san was mainly about Sony’s a7xII camera line and lenses. If I can draw any conclusions from that talk, it will be about Sony recognizing some of the obstacles related to their current models like overheating and menu structure to name a few. On the other hand I came out of this meeting feeling that Sony carefully listens to a customer’s voice and as a leading manufacturer, they are committed to develop and improve their a7x line even further. By the way in the above interview, I deliberately avoided some of the repeatedly asked questions like “why does the a7x cameras can not record 4:2:2 10 bit internally?” as I truly can’t see Sony implementing specs like those in their s7x line anytime soon. For those who chooses to watch parts of the interview, here is a breakdown of the questions I’ve asked and where to find them on the video : Where is the DSLR market heading to? (00:12) How does Sony see the mirrorless camera market? (01:14) Do you see a need for small, lightweight lenses? (03:09) Does Sony recognize the need for faster lenses? (04:39) When will Sony be implementing HDR technology on a7x cameras? (05:09) Can you see further improvements for low light capabilities? (05:28) Which camera would you consider better suited for video recoding, the a7SII or a7RII? (06:32) What is Sony’s recommendation for choosing the right Picture Profile? (08:29) What are the most significant improvements in noise reduction between the original a7S and the a7SII? (09:37) Any comment regarding overheating issues concerning the new a7RII and the a7SII? (10:30) Why can the REC function not be assigned to the shutter release button? (11:37) Why do you get a blank EVF and screen when connecting an external recorder? (12:20) Much more could have been asked but my slot ended with a promise to meet again in the near future. If you have any relevant question to ask the Sony team, please do in the comments below. I can guarantee that they are looking at what you will be writing.Read more
The Sony a7S II is shipping and many filmmakers rejoice as it is one of the best low cost video cameras out there right now. Last week we took a really close look at the differences between the Sony a7S II and the old Sony a7S. But how does this new camera compare to the Sony a7R II that was introduced just a few months ago? Here is the ultimate Sony a7S II vs. a7R II Test. Just like in our a7S II vs. a7S test we went to the test lab and compared all the camera’s capabilities in detail. In this review I’m going to give you all the unbiased results as quickly and to the point as possible and conclude with our recommendation. On the Outside Unlike the original a7S, the two cameras on the test bench share the same body design. The major difference here is the sensor itself. Both have a full-frame sensor, but the a7S II uses Sony’s 12.2MP Exmor CMOS Sensor while the a7R II houses the 42MP Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor. Obviously this makes the Sony a7R II the better choice for photographers who need lots of megapixels. But let’s look at the video test results now, shall we? Sony a7S II dynamic range tested with a XYLA-21 transmissive chart. Dynamic Range Dynamic range is important for us filmmakers, it gives us the ability to capture high contrast scenes without over or underexposure, highlights and shadows are saved resulting in an organic, filmic look and in theory gives us more leeway in post production. In theory: The dynamic range on a7S and a7S II was identical in Slog2. The a7R II could surprise us though as it has a different sensor. In reality: At 4K resolution in Slog2 gamma mode the Sony a7R II (ISO 800) had half a stop more dynamic range than the Sony a7S II (ISO 1600). This is interesting. However the Sony a7S II now also features Slog3 gamma which wins back that half stop. We determined a maximum usable dynamic of slightly above 12 stops on both cameras. We use a a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive chart and IMATEST evaluation software with a crisp Zeiss 50mm CP2 T/2.1 makro lens. Dynamic Range Conclusion: Set your Sony a7S II to Slog3Cine (PP8 under Picture Profile Settings) in order to match the a7R II dynamic range. However Slog3 is not an ideal gamma mode as the camera is limited to 8-bit color, resulting in banding issues, so Slog2 (PP7) is the preferred gamma setting. The a7R II wins this first point, but not by much. Rolling Shutter The so called “rolling shutter” is a phenomenon that skews a camera image when fast moving objects are recorded or during fast pans and handheld camera movement. In theory: Users have reported severe rolling shutter on the a7R II, but then again the a7S II doesn’t hold up too well also. Let’s see how they compare. In reality: In 4K the Sony a7S II had the same rolling shutter performance as the original a7S. Using the best image quality mode on the a7R II (4K super35mm crop mode) we can indeed see that the rolling shutter effect is about 12% more severe on the Sony a7R II. However in 4K full-frame mode, which is slightly softer, the a7R II has about 50% better rolling shutter performance. Rolling Shutter Conclusion: Both cameras have a strong rolling shutter effect in their best quality modes, just like most other cameras that use a large CMOS sensor. The a7S II performs slightly better here. To improve rolling shutter you can use full-frame mode on the Sony a7R II. Resolution / Quality The resolution comparison between the Sony a7S II vs. a7R II is quite interesting. Both cameras can record a beautiful 4K image internally with a variety of different crop and HD modes. Let’s see how this one turns out. In theory: The cameras share a lot of similar specs in video mode, like the 100Mbps XAVC-S codec, 4K (UHD) internal recording, but the recording and crop modes differ as follows: The Sony a7S II records: 4K Full Frame: up to 30 fps HD 1.6 crop: up to 60fps HD 2.2 crop: up to 120fps The Sony a7R II records: 4K Full Frame & 1.6 crop: up to 30 fps HD Full Frame & 1.6 crop: up to 60 fps 720p: up to 120fps In reality: Left: a7R II (crop) 4K | Right: a7S II (FF) 4K On the left you can see a comparison (100% crop images) between the Sony a7S II vs. a7R II in their best 4K modes. Overall the image looks really really similar. But I can see two things: 1. There is some slight sharpening happening in-camera on the Sony a7R II. If I add slight sharepning in post to the a7S II image it looks pretty identical. Left: a7R II (crop) 4K | Right: a7S II (FF) 4K 2. The a7R II seems to resolve a tiny bit more detail, but it is not affecting most regions of the image as they get washed out by some internal processing. This is only apparent in the danes-picta sector star chart and the actual difference is minimal. Left: a7R II (FF) 4K | Right: a7S II (FF) 4K When we switch the Sony a7R II to full frame mode, the image gets a little bit worse, but is still beautiful. It resolves a bit less detail and there is some more aliasing / moiré introduced than on the crop mode. Still very usable. HD Modes: We found out that the a7S II’s HD modes pretty much match the quality of the original a7S. What about the a7R II? In crop mode the a7R II is softer with some aliasing and not really recommendable. In full frame mode however the Sony a7R II gives us acceptable results that are comparable to the quality of the original a7S and are very similar to the image of the Sony a7S II. We took the following shot comparing the a7R II crop mode to the original a7S in crop mode: Left: Sony a7R II (crop mode HD) | Right: Sony a7S (crop mode) As we’re currently in Japan for InterBEE (tradeshow next week) the large Japanese symbols reveal how strong the aliasing in HD mode really is. Resolution / Quality Concsluion: The images on both cameras look remarkably similar in terms of quality and resolution. Especially a7R II crop mode vs. a7S II full frame mode are hard to differentiate. The a7R II in full frame is slightly worse, but still very usable. In HD only the full-frame mode is usable on the a7R II. Lowlight Here’s an interesting part. Can the a7R II match the lowlight capabilities of the a7S II? The short answer is: No. In theory: The a7R II has more pixels on its sensor than the a7S II, hence the a7S II pixels can be larger and capture more light resulting in better lowlight performance. Let’s see the results: I compared ISO speeds of both cameras up to ISO 25,600. Surprisingly the a7R II doesn’t hold up so bad in lowlight at all. It can almost match the a7S II detail in low ISO modes. What I can always see is the a7S II having better noise performance. The image is cleaner. Anyway, with a little bit of noise the a7R II looks ok up until ISO 12,800 and does resolve details in the shadow areas. When we switch to full frame mode on the Sony a7R II though, the results are quite unusable. Even at very low ISO’s it is not nice. ISO 6400 is already quite noisy. Lowlight difference between Sony a7S II (top) and Sony a7R II (bottom) at ISO 25,600. Shot brightness was matched. Lowlight Conclusion: In lowlight and noise the Sony a7S II is clearly the winner with an edge of about 2 stops. However the Sony a7R II in crop mode is a pretty good performer. It can retain good shadow detail up until ISO 25,600, but there is clearly more noise than on the a7S II. If you want the best and cleanest lowlight camera go for the a7S II. Which One Is Right for You? Each of the two cameras has some strengths and weaknesses. Let’s summarise this now: The Sony a7R II has the following advantages: It can produce 42MP still images, a resolution almost 4x higher than the a7S II. The option of a great crop mode in 4K besides the full frame (FF usable if you have sufficient light). Good lowlight in crop mode. Note: Many readers commented on the overheating issues they experienced with this camera. Apparently some units are shutting down during long takes in warm environments. Keep that in mind when you make your buying decision. Price: $3,198 (LINK) The Sony a7S II has the following advantages: Slog3 Gamma Mode (not always recommended) & gamma assist feature. Slightly better quality full frame mode in 4K. Slightly better rolling shutter performance. Better lowlight, cleaner image. 120fps slow motion mode in Full HD. According to user reports less prone to overheating on long recordings. $200 more affordable. Price: $2,998 (LINK) Conclusion There’s really not a big difference between the two cameras, both on the outside as well as on the inside. The video colors are very balanced on both cameras and they produce a good internal 4K video. There’s no way you could tell the images apart without deep analysis and even in lowlight the cameras are not so far apart. If you would like to use your camera for high resolution photography the Sony a7R II is clearly your preferred choice. It is also more versatile as it offers crop mode which can be used with APS-C lenses or a SpeedBooster to get an extra stop of light out of full frame EF lenses. On the other hand the Sony a7S II could be your choice if you’re only doing video and lowlight and a clean image is important to you. You’re restricted to full frame lenses for best quality, but you get Slog3 (if you need that) and somewhat usable 120fps slow motion. Which is your camera of choice? Let us know your arguments in the comment section. I hope this comparison answered all your questions. If it helped why not get your gear through the links to our sponsor. Thank you and good light for your shoots.Read more
The new Sony A7s II is available now and definitely a best-seller mirrorless video camera. But what makes this camera so wanted and how does it perform compared to the already excellent Sony a7R II? I took the new camera out in the field and here are my first impressions. I took the Sony a7S II for a short spin and thanks to the help of police officers Birgit Neuwirth and Thomas Lagler (not to forget Dinozzo, the 11 months old Belgian shepherd from the Austrian K9 unit) I came up with the short test video above. My “artistic” decision was to shoot everything with available light only and use two lenses, the Sony 28-135mm F/4 and Sony 16-35 F/4. Needless to say it was a “zero budget gig” and as a single operator I’ve tried to keep this production as simple as possible. I’ve tried to squeeze “normal footage”, “lowlight” and “slow-motion” parts into one video. The lowlight footage in this large office building was filmed with F/4 lenses in up to 8,000 ISO (mostly 6,400). The two short slow-motion sequences were recorded in 100p at 100Mbit/S and I used Adobe Premiere’s “Time Remapping” function to slow them down. So what are the main advantages of the Sony a7S II over the original A7s? (in no particular order) Internal UHD 4K recording S-log 3 (in addition to S-log 2) Gamma Display Assistant (allows you to monitor your flat S-log 2 or 3 image in a more vivid Rec 709 way) Internal IBIS stabilisation system (5-Axis SteadyShot) A possibility to charge the camera via the USB port A possibility to assign “REC” to other buttons than the awkwardly placed rec button 100fps (PAL), 120fps (NTSC) in HD quality Note: You can record slow-motion in 2 different ways: HFR will give you an instant slow-motion (recording data rate is 16Mbit/s) or, you can shoot at 100/120 fps in full HD (100Mbit/s which spread between the up to 120fps) and then conform to 24/25p in post. Also, when choosing to shoot in slow-motion note there is 2.2x centre crop of the sensor. Higher OLED EVF resolution ISO 1,600 is the “native ISO” (In 4K and full HD recording modes. When switching to Full HD 100p the base ISO is 3200 as on old Sony a7S). Reduced rolling shutter effect especially noticeable in Full HD mode Two additional Picture Profiles (PP8 and 9) Additional Custom-Key button We have yet to test how the HD quality coming out of the Sony a7S II compares to the original a7S. When it comes to comparing the a7S II to the Sony a7R II, the most noticeable differences are: The addition of S-log 3 Up to 120fps in full HD (compared to 60fps) Gamma Display Assist Sony’s a7S II is cleaner in low-light situations compared to the a7R II Because of its higher pixel count, the Sony a7R II can shoot in APS-C S35 crop-mode in 4K. The a7S II can not do that. Further more, any APS-C lens that will be attached to this camera will have strong vignetting at the edges in 4K-mode (APS-C mode is limited to HD resolutions). So which camera I should get? As far as I’m concerned, there is not a clear answer to that question. If you are doing a lot of photography on top of your video productions, then the Sony a7R II is the way to go, otherwise personally I would consider the Sony a7S II as my preferred option because of the small refinements they put in over the a7RII. Also there is a price difference of $200 to consider. Conclusion: The Sony a7S II feels like a matured product. It is truly amazing to see how much technology is packed inside this little thing. As a documentary film shooter, this will become my preferred working tool. I treat those cameras like “a brain” that can be expend or minimise depending on the type of work I do. Additionally, I prefer internal 4K recording over an external device when ever possible or needed, so the Sony a7s II is the perfect working tool for me. Last but not least, It is also worth mentioning that I did not have any overheating issues with the camera during the long shooting day. All was shot inside at normal room temperature. I would love to hear other user’s experiences and see if they had similar issues as reported with the a7R II. Setting for the above video: XAVC-S 4K, 25p, Slog2. For the slow-motion sequences: XAVC-S HD 100p/100M Music from musicbed: Cedric Conti – The Hotel and Cultus – First snow Graded with James Miller’s Deluts Edit: As requested by some, here is the ungraded version of the above video. Please head directly to Vimeo and download the 4K version if you like to try it for yourself. Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.comRead more
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