Hello 5D mkII – Goodbye brevis!

I’ve been watching with great interest the development of DSLR video over the last year or so and have recently decided to jump onboard myself. For nearly a year now the has Canon 5D mkII has been producing some awesome examples, but the biggest limitation with that camera has been that it’s fixed to 30 frames per second. That’s not the 29.97 flavour of 30p that’s common amongst video cameras but an exact 30 fps. Living in a PAL region where pretty much all video is 25 fps that makes it a bit of a nightmare to cut with footage from other cameras.

A few days ago I took the plunge and invested in a Canon 7D which addresses this problem by including multiple frame rates. The 7D doesn’t have as large a sensor as the 5D2 though but it still produces pretty nice video.

I also splashed out on a lovely set of L series lenses, a 35mm 1.4, a 50mm 1.2 and a 70-200 2.8 IS. You can’t beat good glass!

Once I started playing with the 7D I was immediately struck by the noise it produces in the image with an ISO rating over 200, it’s by no means terrible but it always seemed to grab my attention for some reason. I started to question whether I should have gone for the 5D2 which is reported to be less noisy. Then by sheer luck Canon announced that they are going to introduce multiple frame rates for the 5D2 next year. That was it, I had to change to the 5D!

The shop where I got the 7D were pretty good about allowing me to swap the camera, I obviously had to pay the difference of £288 and I’m pretty sure they palmed me off with an ex demo model but I walked out with a 5D2 earlier today.

My first shots with the 5D2 today have shocked me to be honest, they are so much better than anything I’ve managed with the Brevis adapter on my EX1. I think I’d even go as far as to say the images almost look similar to those from the EX1 but with a much narrower depth of field. There’s obviously a lot more going for the EX1 than it’s image though, and the 5D would never replace it as my main camera, but it’s certainly looking like it will mean the end of the Brevis adapter as my shallow DOF tool.

European Bike Week 2009 – Austria

The third event that I ‘ve filmed for Harley Davidson this year is the European Bike Week which takes place in the small village of Faak in Austria.

Although this event is likely to be that last this year, it ‘s by no means the smallest, in fact it is by far the biggest event in the HD Europe calendar. The event is reported to have attracted over 100,000 visitors, most of whom are bikers.


New SxS drivers

Sony have released a new SxS driver for the mac which supports OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard). The driver can be downloaded from here. There are still issues with the Sony XDCAM Transfer app on 10.6 but I use the ‘Log & Transfer’ app in Final Cut instead which works fine.

Steadicam Pilot – broken bearing

I opened my Steadicam case today to find some rather strange looking metal pieces laying loose in the bag. I’d not noticed any issues before but these parts had obviously come from somewhere so I decided to give everything a good check over.

It didn’t take me long to notice that one of the bearings in the upper of the two parts of the arm had failed. I’m not sure when this happened, I didn’t find any of the actual balls from the bearing which would lead me to think that it must have failed whilst in use, although I can’t remember actually sensing it go.

Tiffen UK have been extremely helpful and very quick to respond to my request for help. Ill be sending it for repair next week.


** UPDATE 30-09-09 **

My Steadicam arm arrived back from Tiffen today, just a few days after I sent it to them for repair. I’m really pleased to report that it’s as good as new. The guys at Tiffen have been incredibly helpful, I can’t express enough how nice they have been to deal with and what fantastic support they gave me.

Thanks Tiffen!

Snow Leopard, 2.2 Gamma at last!

After my initial wingeing about snow leopard I’m starting to notice some of the good stuff about the new OS. The first of those things is that Mac OS now sets it’s gamma to 2.2 by default, and not only that but in the display calibration pages it actually lists 2.2 as being standard!

This may seem like a small thing to be pleased about, but the way Final Cut Pro has dealt with gamma up until now has been the cause of much confusion amongst editors. Because Apple assumed mac users were using their standard gamma setting of 1.8 they decided that it was a good idea to have Final Cut Pro & Quicktime display video slightly darker than it really was to give the user a more accurate representation of how the rest of the world would see their video.

The problem with this approach however is that if like me you want to see content in the same way as the majority of the world, you would set your gamma to 2.2 which makes the whole OS display similar colours to PC’s & TV’s. The trouble with this though is that Final Cut was not aware of the change and would still apply the compensation making your video appear darker than it really is.

before I understood what was happening with the gamma in FCP I spend endless hours colour correcting footage only to find that it looked washed out once exported and uploaded to vimeo, YouTube or other online streaming service.

Now that Apple have finally settled on a standard gamma of 2.2 it seems that they’ve stopped this happening, at least it appears to be the case with version 7 when used with Snow Leopard.

Here’s a screen shot showing the same clip in Final cut, quicktime X and VLC. While the colours do vary slightly in VLC the gamma now seems to match.