Just a few days ago, Olympus unveiled their new MFT camera, the Olympus E-M1 MK II. It is not only the Japanese company’s first foray into 4K video, it is also a technology milestone in terms of image stabilization and pro video features. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II Please make sure to read Graham’s article for a good overview of this new camera. As a reminder, here are the specifications: New 20 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor 4K UHD Video up to 30fps (3840×2160) and Cinema 4K up to 24fps (4096×2160) 3.0 Articulating Touch Monitor 121 Point Dual Auto Focus Pre-Record Feature 5-Axis Image Stabilization Dual SD Card Slot (UHS II Compatible) Weatherproofing: dust, splash and freeze-proof Weight: 1.3 pounds. One of the real achievements of this newly developed camera is the implemented image stabilization. As Janne Amunet puts it: It really gives new possibilities in terms of moving the camera without having a huge production budget. And that’s really it! The quality of stabilization that the Olympus E-M1 Mark II can achieve seems to be quite impressive, and can be even further improved when used alongside an Olympus lens with image stabilization. In a scenario like this, the result of both camera and lens add up to almost gimbal-like performance. The other buzzword surrounding this camera is, of course, 4K. It’s a first for Olympus, but it’s good to see other manufacturers adopting more and more camera systems to choose from. The Olympus E-M1 MK II caters the micro four thirds system, just like the Panasonic GH4. When shooting in (cinema) 4K, this camera is capable of a datarate of 237 MBits, which is a really impressive amount of data for such a small camera package. Pricing and availability Unfortunately there is no word on pricing yet, but the camera should still hit the market before 2017, probably looking at around December time.Read more
In a week packed full of new camera announcements, the Sony FDR-X3000R action cam shows us that its not just about top-of-the-range, flagship cameras. With this significant announcement, Sony takes aim at the GoPro market yet again with their latest 4K-capable action cam with optical image stabilisation. One of the main characteristics of the FDR-X3000R is the adoption of the Balanced Optical SteadyShot technology found in some of Sony’s handicam models. The B.O.SS system works by moving the entire optical path rather than just individual elements, and is supposed to achieve even greater shake reduction, making it ideal for action cam applications such as helmet or handlebar mounted operation. In terms of hardware, the FDR-X3000R weighs only 114g, and features an 8.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor backed by a BIONZ X processor, the very same brains inside the Sony ɑ7 range, which allows for a full pixel readout without pixel binning. In addition, the new low-distortion Zeiss Tessar f/2.8 lens is adjustable in-camera to f=17 mm, f=23 mm and f=32 mm for Wide, Medium and Narrow settings respectively, and features a 3x smooth zoom while recording. All of this is housed in a splash and freezeproof body, making this action cam suitable for a variety of situations. Included in the box is also a dust and shockproof underwater housing, allowing you to take the action cam down to a maximum depth of 60m. Also included is the new Live-View Remote used to monitor the image and control camera functions remotely via WiFi and Bluetooth, and which can be used as a watch-style wearable. These items are certainly a nice addition to the starter package, as Sony could have easily made them available as extras. Sony FDR-X300R – What’s included in the Box List of features of the FDR-X3000R at a glance XAVC S, 4K 3840 x 2160 recording at 30p/25p/24p at 100Mbps. XAVC S, FullHD 1920 x 1080 recording at 30p/25p/24p at 50Mbps. High frame rates also available in FullHD up to 120p/100p, and beyond at lower resolutions. B.O.SS stabilisation technology available also in 4K and high frame rate mode. Time-lapse recording using 4K, 8.3MP stills, as well as Burst Shooting mode. Recording media: Memory Stick Micro (M2) and Micro SD / SDHC / SDXC Memory Card (class 4 or higher). Micro HDMI, Micro USB and mic jack at the rear of the camera for easy access. 4K HDMI output available. Live streaming compatible via UStream. GPS records location, route and speed information. Built-in stereo mic. Removable NP-BX1 battery. All in all, the FDR-X3000R sounds like a solid alternative for those looking for a capable and flexible action cam for that interesting extra angle. There will be some nice accessories available for it upon launch— such as the AKA-FGP1 Finger Grip and AKA-MCP1 MC Protector — but the camera already comes as a very usable package straight out of the box. The B.O.SS technology is certainly a welcome addition for this style of camera, and the ability to record in 4K means it offers a solid platform to further stabilise in post if needed. The Sony FDR-X3000R will be available in November for an estimated retail price of around EUR 600. For more information, be sure to check out Sony’s product page. Do you think GoPro is in trouble yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.Read more
The Osmo Mobile is now the latest addition to the DJI family, coming shortly after the recent release of the DJI Osmo+. Aiming to bring the functionality and ease of use of DJI’s small handheld stabiliser to your smartphone, the Osmo Mobile could prove attractive to both enthusiasts and professionals alike. DJI has been bringing steady footage solutions to the masses with multiple variations of their drone and gimbal products, and recently also the baby in their catalogue, the cute little DJI Osmo. Available in different configurations — from the humble original Osmo to the venerable Osmo Raw with the Zenmuse X5R camera — there is now yet another: the Osmo Mobile. This new offering lets you use your smartphone as a camera, bringing DJI stabilisation to the budget-conscious shooter… and perhaps a pro or two out there, as well! The Osmo Mobile accepts smartphones anywhere between 58.6 and 84.8mm long and up to 8.4mm thick. Simply attach your phone with the included clamp, balance the camera to ensure proper functionality by adjusting the locking knobs and you’re ready to go. The handle on the Osmo Mobile features a photo shutter button, a video record button and a customisable joystick to control the direction the camera faces in. Under your index finger, you will find a trigger, which allows you to momentarily lock the camera’s direction, re-center the camera, or enter selfie mode, by pressing it once, twice or three times respectively. One of the good things about the Osmo Mobile is that you can use the stabiliser’s basic functions with any camera app on your phone, such as the impressive Filmic Pro, which Richard wrote about here. However, the real potential of the Osmo Mobile is realised when connecting via Bluetooth using the DJI GO app. This opens up advanced functionality such as ActiveTrack, which lets you to select a subject on the screen of your smartphone for the Osmo to follow. The Panorama and Time-lapse options are also available through the DJI GO app, allowing you to set start and end frames, and having the app and gimbal work in conjunction to take care of the rest. Please note that some functions are only available in the iOS version of the app. At a price of between USD $299.00 – $409.00 depending on the range of accessories included, the Osmo Mobile is priced very reasonably. I am sure it will prove very attractive to smartphone shooters wanting to add a touch of cinematic quality to their work, especially when combined with Filmic Pro and third party lenses for smartphone cameras. The advanced features of the app, in conjunction to long-lasting removable batteries, make this a truly attractive solution for these kind of shooters. In addition, considering the rise of the use of smartphones for news gathering applications, this could also prove to be a very useful tool for journalists. The optional Universal Mount available for the Osmo range means reporters in the field could easily attach small audio and lighting accessories in order to make their iPhone rig a very flexible, professional and compact solution indeed. For more information, head over to the DJI Osmo Mobile product page. Would DJI’s Osmo Mobile fit in your workflow at all? Let us know in the comments below!Read more
I recently had a chance to try the Osmo RAW (Zenmuse X5R) at a friend’s wedding. I shot the beginning at 1080p and the ending in UHD, but I shot the whole video in RAW. I used a standard picture setting as they are RAW files anyway, and transcoded into ProRes 4444 to edit. I didn’t change the color in the edit at all, so feel free to download the 4K/UHD file from Vimeo to play with. Screw-up Let me get this out of the way: having never used an Osmo before, I screwed up a number of shots right at the beginning without realizing. We couldn’t find the venue, so we just arrived at the same time as the bride, which meant I just had to grab the Osmo and go for it. I must have been in some kind of auto-exposure mode, and I couldn’t recognize how crappy these adjustments looked on the iPhone screen until I reviewed the footage after the first bit of shooting. So please excuse these terribly stuttery shots that occurred as a result of automatic shutter speed adjustments. This leads us to the first problem with the Osmo: it really needs an ND because shooting high shutter speeds means that movements look jumpy – you should adhere to the 180 degree shutter rule whenever possible when filming, no matter the camera, and you can only achieve this by taking light away from your sensor with filters, particularly in bright daylight. Impressive Technology But let me really start by saying what an amazing device the DJI Osmo is in general. It’s a lot of smart technology in a very small package that feels very well thought out. It has a great feel, with all its buttons just in the right place, and the DJI Go app to control the Osmo from your phone is absolutely mind-blowing. The Osmo doesn’t have a built-in preview screen. You connect your phone to a hotspot that the Osmo generates, and start the app. Tap on “camera” and you should immediately see the preview image. Surprisingly, the lag is so short that it’s barely noticeable, despite the Wifi connection. The interface controls of the DJI Go app are extremely comprehensive, although some things are not in the logical place. I found the autofocus quite poor and unfortunately it can’t seem to track the objects you tap on on the screen – it just focuses once but does not keep them in focus. Switch to manual focus and you get a virtual focus wheel on screen, which surprisingly works pretty well. Long focus ramps should be avoided though, because going from macro to infinity doesn’t work in one go. Further camera settings are buried in the menu but in general the entire app is way more intuitive than your average camera menu from any Japanese manufacturer. RAW recording The new RAW version of the Osmo differs from the former X5 version by its raw recorder – a fan-cooled unit that records onto custom DJI SSDs that come at a steep price ($1800 for 512 GB). The quality of the raw footage is exceptional, and you can record half an hour of 4K or UHD footage onto a 512 GB card, or 4 hours of HD. I recorded the first part of my review in HD because I didn’t know how long the ceremony was going to last – I later changed to UHD recording. Noise issues There is one huge issue with the raw recorder: it’s extremely noisy. So much so, that it is impossible to record any usable sound with the device, and noisy enough to annoy the people you are filming. During the ceremony, I shot a few shots walking past the audience, adjusting the angle of the Osmo camera through the brilliant joystick so that it pointed sideways. I was about 2 meters away from the guests, and many heads turned because of the noise the device was producing. This can be a real deal-breaker for many shooters out there. Smartphone interface & preview – smart or not? In theory, the idea of using your high-resolution smartphone as a preview touch screen for the Osmo is quite smart, but there are a bunch of problems: first of all, I would recommend that you get a dedicated phone / iPod touch for the Osmo, simply because if a phone call or notification comes in, it can ruin your shot. And there is no real way of preventing a phone call from coming in because you need the Wifi connection, which means you can’t switch to Airplane Mode. You might be able to use the Do Not Disturb mode on iPhones instead, but I did not test this. UPDATE: I was wrong here – it is possible to enable the Airplane mode and then re-enable Wifi only. I was not aware that that is possible. This is also possible on Android, similarly. Very neat! Secondly – and this might be an even bigger problem – is that of course your smartphone battery is drained quickly when using it as a preview and interface monitor. There is space to attach a charging cable, but you will have to connect it to an external battery pack, which you would have to somehow attach to Osmo in order to not be in the way. Power drain Despite this, I didn’t even run into this problem when reviewing the Osmo, simply because I was only supplied with one battery for the device. This meant that when it drained after 20-30 minutes of continuous use, I had to recharge it for 1-1.5 hours before I could use it again. DJI provided us with a larger Inspire battery which was supposed to last longer, as it can be connected running a cable from the battery in my pocket to the Osmo. This proved to be impractical as I also had to switch cameras because I was filming the wedding with a Sony a7S as well, so I decided no to go for the external battery most of the time. Stabilisation The stabilisation of the Osmo is quite good, and unlike with other gimbals which use third-party cameras, balancing is of course a non-issue for the Osmo. The joystick button control makes it a breeze to adjust the angle to your liking. Holding down the pistol trigger button below the grip, the direction of the camera temporarily stays put, and doesn’t follow your movements like normally. Lenses I used the Osmo with the supplied standard lens, the 1.7/15, which provided great shallow depth of field due to its wide aperture. Focusing with the virtual wheel isn’t easy though, and the autofocus isn’t great (and not continuous). I found this lens to be a good compromise between wide angle shots while not distorting too much, although in tighter spaces I often found it could have been wider. It’s the same old problem with the Micro Four Thirds sensor: it’s hard to find wide lenses because of the 2x crop sensor . Footage The X5R still holds a micro SD card slot in addition to the RAW recorder, which means you have easily playable proxies recorded simultanously. Even the DJI Go app records a preview image, which makes it even easier. Reviewing RAW footage has never been easier with any other camera I know. Ingesting the DNG RAW sequences into your Mac works by using the included CineLight app, which also offers options to export those sequences. I then converted them into ProRes 4444 using Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5 to make them more edit-friendly. The look of the 4K RAW footage is nothing short of spectacular. As expected, the highlight retention is exceptional, as are the details in the shadows. A formal lab test and some aerial footage will follow in a separate post by Sebastian, and be warned that the aerials looks absolutely mind-blowing. DJI has managed to release a product whose image quality can compete with the highest-end multicopter setups with much heavier and expensive cameras, and you probably wouldn’t see the difference. Post production of RAW footage is obviously time and storage consuming, so I wouldn’t use the Osmo RAW on every production. However, when high quality is needed and you have the time for post production, then it can really shine. It would have been nice to find a compromise between the lossless RAW footage and the heavily compressed footage that ends up on the micro SD card. Hopefully DJI can license ProRes in the future and add this kind of recording to the X5R in order to accommodate for more everyday productions. Conclusion Using the Osmo RAW with the Zenmuse X5R makes you feel like you are using a gadget from the future. DJI seem to be far ahead of much of their competition in terms of interface and hardware. There are definitely interesting times ahead, and more and more established companies should brace themselves for DJI to disrupt their market. This time, I see the market mostly in the multicopter / drone areas, considering the RAW quality of the X5R footage. I don’t see this disruption threatening other one-handed-gimbals or even their own original Osmo too much, simply because the noise of the unit will make it unusable for many practical applications which require original sound. For example, I don’t see a way of actually doing a walk-and-talk with the Osmo RAW due to its noise level. Also, the amount of battery drain is troubling. About 20 minutes when shooting 4K or UHD RAW, maybe 30 or 35 when shooting 1080p. You will literally need 10-15 batteries to get through a day’s worth of shooting. Despite its shortcomings, the DJI Osmo RAW X5R is a sign of what’s yet to come in the gimbal and stabilizer market. It will find its audience, and certainly also on higher-end productions because of its sheer RAW power and ease of use.Read more
For everyone who wondered how the guys behind this Vimeo Staff Pick pulled off this beautiful aerial shot, keep reading to find out! No, you haven’t missed the announcement of the latest “superdrone”. In fact, the maneuvering around such tight spaces was done with a very cheap, very shaky 250-size mini quadcopter like this one, a GoPro Hero 4 and, of course, a very good pilot. The secret, as they say, is in the sauce. In this case, the sauce is a new plugin for After Effects called ReelSteady. Here is the before shot: ReelSteady features a very streamlined design, with some very useful tools. Apart from stabilizing your video, the plugin can correct the jello effect from your camera’s rolling shutter, as well as removing the fish-eye distortion from wide-angle lenses. This will not only make your footage look nicer, it’ll also help ReelSteady work better. Another handy feature is the ability to refine a selected portion of the already stabilized footage through a second pass of correction. This allows for fast tweaking of any part of the clip that may not have come out looking smooth the first time around. The software is still in its beta stage, but the watermarked demo is available for free. One important thing to keep in mind is that—due to a known bug in CC 2015—the software will currently only work with CS6, CC, and CC 2014. A little bit of a workaround may be necessary if you’re running the latest version of AE. The website offers a few short tutorial videos on how to deal with common problems, such as artifacts and other known issues. They also demonstrate a couple of simple techniques to improve the performance of the plugin through masking and color correction. You can also see how it compares to the ubiquitous Warp Stabilizer. V1 of ReelSteady is available for pre-order for $399, with instant access to the beta version.Read more
Gunther Machu works for a large engineering corporation and travels the world for business. On his trips, he has started shooting video for pleasure with amazing results that have brought him a lot of fans on his Vimeo account, not only from enthusiast filmmakers but also from professionals. He always uses the smallest kit possible – the Panasonic GH2 and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera are usually his main work horses. In this guest post, he shares his experiences with the new Sony A7II, which we gave him for a spin over the weekend. (nl)Read more
The Varavon Birdycam 2 is the new version of Varavon’s affordable brushless gimbal camera stabiliser. It offers great ergonomics at a very low pricepoint. Varavon has a history of producing well made and well thought through products for videographers and DSLR shooters. We’ve recently looked at their new Wirecam that used a portion of their gimbal base that is also used in their newest camera stabiliser the Birdycam 2. The Birdycam 2 seems to tick most boxes a good camera stabiliser should. One of the most important things for many is the fact that it can be operated by a single person due to its simple follow-mode and thumb-joystick control. While it lacks some of the great features the Letus Helix offers, it is a more affordable and more available option for now. For those looking for an alternative to the famous Freefly Movi M5 the Varavon Birdycam 2 is looking quite interesting at almost half the price. It’s available for pre-order for $2375 and should start shipping quite soon: LINKRead more
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