Camera Rental Tag

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12 May (Relatively) New in Rentals: the Sony FS7 and a7S

 

 

Sony A7s, Sony FS7

 

The last couple months have been so busy at Studio B that we’ve neglected to post about our newest Sony cameras, the Sony PXW-FS7 and the Sony a7S. Both are amazing cameras, especially when compared with their low prices. The FS7 rivals the Sony F5 or the Red Epic with its 4k internal recording, 14 stops of latitude, and high frame rate options– all for a much lower rental day-rate. It records up to 180p in HD and up to 60p in UHD (3840×2160), all in 10-bit 4:2:2 with the option of S-Gamut3Cine/S-Log 3 encoding. What’s more, the Studio B FS7 rental comes with your choice of an EF or PL lens mount adapter, in addition to the basic Sony E-mount on the camera.

 

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Above: The FS7 with a Metabones Speed Booster EF-mount Adapter, and the Canon L-series 16-35mm EF zoom lens.

Below: Flying the FS7 on the Porta-Jib Traveller, with a Panasonic 17″ Director’s Monitor in the background.

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We’ve used the FS7 as the main camera, or as the B-cam to the F5 on several of our most recent shoots, including the Tesla spec spot, Tencue Netsuite event video, and the Adobe Creative Cloud & Photography and Adobe Warriors spots. Here is the test shoot we did on the first day we had with the FS7.

Below: Shooting on the FS7 with the Canon CN-E 30-105mm Lightweight Cinema Zoom Lens.

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The Sony a7S is a much smaller, lightweight DSLR option for the more independent videographer. It rivals the Canon 5Dmk.III in price, but blows it out of the water in low light shooting and with its 4k output capability. The a7S records in 50mbps XAVC 4:2:2 in camera to SD cards, and outputs 4k to be captured with an external recorder such as the Atomos Shogun. The main selling point is the low-light capability, which allows this camera to shoot in near complete darkness with an ISO range of up to 409,600.

Below: Low-light comparison between the A7S and Panasonic GH4, by TJ Donegan (seen here).

Sony A7s Comparison

 

Both cameras are available today for rent and come with all of the necessary accessories (media, lens mounts, batteries) to pick up and shoot. Just mount a lens and you’re ready to go. Check out Studio B Camera Rentals for these cameras and more.

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04 Feb Arri Amira Camera Price Announced

Arri Amira

The specs and design of the new Arri Amira camera have intrigued us since its announcement last year, but the lingering question on the back of everyone’s mind has been what the starting price will be. Last week Arri announced the base price point for the Alexa’s ENG-Style little sister, which will ship at different tiers of pricing for your choice of configurations.

The most basic version of the Amira camera body with a viewfinder will be $40,000. This features Rec709 ProRes 422 HD recording up to 100fps. Above that, the middle level configuration will include LogC, ProRes 422 HQ to 200fps, in-camera grading, and a few more extra features. Lastly the high-end version features 2k resolution at ProRes 4444 and custom 3D LUT controls. The lens mount, battery plate, and shoulder pad will be customizable for each option.

The mid-level camera is priced at $45,000 and the highest option is set for $51,500. And perhaps needless to say, these price points only cover the basic essentials, so expect to pay more for other necessary accessories like media, lenses, audio, and camera rigs.

When the Amira was first announced, many questioned the lack of 4k recording capabilities. While 4k would help future-proof the camera, the argument against it was that the Amira has a niche purpose as a run-and-gun ENG-style camera, for documentary or news video rather than for cinema. This and its touted 14+ stops of dynamic range, low-light capabilities, and the pedigree that comes from the Alexa’s success helped to change most critic’s minds. The hope, then, was that the Amira would be a bit cheaper and more affordable to independent videographers.

It’s too early to know if the $40-50k price range is too high or not, but I think it’s safe to say it is well out of most people’s budgets. Most of the popular digital cinema cameras being used today come in well below that, price-wise, but then again Arri has proved with its previous digital camera models that studios will pay the high price for quality. A breakdown of which cameras were shot on in Oscar-nominated films this year proves that the Alexa is quite popular in Hollywood, though that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Expected shipping date for the Arri Amira will be after March 2014. It remains to be seen if it will be a popular camera purchase, but there’s no doubt it will be a hot rental item later this year.

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17 Apr EX1 vs. HVX, so what’s the big deal?

Lately, a lot of people have been calling and asking me about the differences between the Sony EX1 and the Panasonic HVX. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these two cameras? What benefits do I get from Sony vs. Panasonic?

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This is what I tell ‘em:

It’s certainly not a comparison of apples and apples, but it’s not quite apples and oranges either. The cameras are as similar as they are different. To begin, the Panasonic doesn’t have a great imager, but it records at a high rate (100mb/sec) and has a trusted codec, DVCPRO HD, that’s “known” and used across the industry. The Sony has an amazing Fujinon lens and a fantastic 1080 imager, and although it uses a different logarithm to get to it’s record rate, it is ultimately recording at a lower rate than the Panasonic (35mb/sec). So, the Panasonic records a mediocre image at a high rate and the Sony records a great image at a more crushed rate.

So, where does that leave us? Are they the same? No. No, they are not the same…

Panasonic has been around, P2 has been around, DVCPRO HD has been around. It’s tried and trusted. DVCPRO HD has become, at the very least, the 720p standard and it has a clear foothold in the industry. Many networks and stations work in DVCPRO or DVCPRO HD; and all NLE’s support DVCPRO HD. So, there are general compatibility advantages while working in this format.

On the flip side XDCAM HD, Sony’s codec, is new and there isn’t the broad based support, yet, across the industry.However, Final Cut Pro has full support, along with Avid – you can make XDCAM become whatever format you need for delivery.

Panasonic’s P2 card system started this whole tapeless thing off, and Sony took a long time to catch up, but now they have done it right. The workflow for the EX1 has been nicely streamlined to work with new Macbook Pros and Final Cut directly. If you don’t have a Macbook Pro, you can use a slick card reader on any machine. Panasonic’s workflow is a bit “clunky” still, but works nicely in Final Cut Pro or Avids, just the same.

When deciding between the two cameras, the most important consideration is your project.Your camera selection depends on your comfort level with workflow, your preferences and your familiarity with certain brands.If you worked a lot with the old DVX-100, or other Panasonic cameras, the HVX will be easy to operate and navigate.If you are familiar with Sony gear, then the EX1 is a breeze to use.It’s a matter of preference and familiarity.

At this point, Sony’s EX1 is certainly giving Panasonic’s HVX a run for its money. But I would hesitate to disregard the HVX just yet. If you’re delivering to ABC, ESPN or Disney, the native DVCPRO HD is a great choice, as they operate on 720p and/or DVCPRO HD.

In terms of image quality – again, it is a matter of trading one thing for another.To my eye, and many others agree, that the color sampling of HVX is better.On the HVX, the colors out of the box are more vivid and easy to manipulate.However, with the imager’s resolution being less and a stock lens, the sharpness is reduced on the HVX.

This is where the EX1 comes in. This camera is super crisp and more sensitive to light overall. With its amazing Fujinon lens and its CMOS sensor, it is much sharper than the HVX. But the colors don’t pop quite the same. You can manually get in there on an EX1 and change a lot of this color, changing the matrix and white shading, etc. But for a ProSumer camera it’s not as straight forward, you need to know a bit more about broadcast and about video imaging in general.

Overall, I think both of these cameras have their place and have their purpose.There is an application that is appropriate for both cameras, for sure.The EX1’s workflow is sleek, but manipulating the camera is not as straight forward. The HVX is older and more established, and is a bit more user friendly, but its work flow is not as clean.

This decision is up to you as a camera operator. You have all types of factors – your general preference, the budget, the computer gear and workflow you have available, and your desired final deliverable. I think a general rule is: the EX1 is for those operators familiar to larger broadcast cameras like the F-900 or Digibeta, that need to take it down a notch; while the HVX is for those who are used to shooting with DVX or HDV and need to step it up a notch.

All of these things determine what is right. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, right now. Talk to me in a year or two and I may have a stronger opinion one way or another. For now, give a call and we’ll have a chat about your project and figure out which is best for you.

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