Friday, March 19, 2010

VDSLR's Present and Future

I have been watching the Video DSLR market evolve as I use Canon still cameras for still work an other "video" cameras for video work. Just recently have I started experimenting with the DSLR's for video applications.

These cameras are not supposed to be incredible video machines, but the industry is taking notice. But will the still camera makers be quick enough to react and seize the market?

When I step back, I am a bit puzzled at the marketplace. On one hand, there is the RED company which has a $17,500 body which has a 11.5mp sensor that was designed to function in a motion picture environment. I have read that this cameras has had heat issues through it's development. Even though this camera has a 11.5mp sensor (which would give it relatively large photosites), it's ISO (light gathering ability) is not off of the charts.

Then we have the 5DMKII which sells for $3000, has 21mp and was designed for still use. This camera is limited to 12min of recording due to memory limitations but is that a heat limitation as well? Compared to the RED, the 5D seems to be more flexible with ISO and light gathering even though it has way smaller photosites.

So I wonder, if Canon could make a new sensor the size of the 5DMII sensor but at 2.1mp for 1080p video only, the ISO would be off of the charts. What is stopping them? Is it technical? Is it a relative low demand or market size?

RED and its future products was supposed to turn the industry upside down, but from my view, it looks like Canon has that ability through much better sensor development and a large user install base owning their lenses.

Will they do it? And how does RED fit into this landscape? Scarlet does not seem as groundbreaking anymore...

Your thoughts for discussion?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cool Lights

How much does technology help us?
Can we have more of an impact?
Accomplish our goals with greater ease?
In the field of image production, this person believes
yes. Not only does technology improve our
capabilities, it allows us to keep our focus on what is
most important, creativity and quality.

This week was my first shoot with and all battery
powered setup. Most of the production day my
entire lighting setup consisted of LED video lights
made by a company called Cool Lights which
emphasizes lower temperature (heat) output
lighting instruments.

I started this article by speaking about technology
because a short time ago this setup did not exist,
at any price point.

For this shoot I needed to capture scenes from
around an industrial plant from many different
angles and areas. With my Tungsten light kit
this would mean lots of long extension chords,
power checks and lawsuit prone trip hazards.
Not with this setup. The LED lights are something
special as they draw a relatively low amount
of power which allows them to be run off of normal
sized batteries. For most of the day we shot with
two 256w small LEDs and one 600w larger LED.
This gave a larger key source with a couple
accent lights.

Cool Lights
The portability can not be understated. Upon
moving to a different location in the plant, I would
setup the camera in the position I wanted to shoot
from and then place the light stands wherever we
needed light. As simple as think and place. What
a joy not to have to wrangle dirty chords all day long
across a factory floor.

The LED lights have a nice feature of being able to
turn off rows or banks of light. This gives you a way
to decrease the light output without needing to
move the instrument. Another improvement in
lighting technology.

After the factory floor shoot we moved into a
conference room to shoot some talking head shots
and a Cool Lights fluorescent fixture was added as the
soft key source.

The best part of these new wave of lights in this
scenario is the temperature,... of the room. These
lights put out a fraction of the heat tungsten based
instruments emit. Many times the on-camera talent
starts to melt with a room full of tungsten lights as
often the A/C needs to be turned off to eliminate
the hum being picked up by the condenser mic. The
LED and fluorescent fixtures keep the temperature
in the room unchanged which is very important
for a longer shoot. As you can tell by now, I am a
convert to these new lighting instruments. One
other nice feature of the LED and fluorescent
instruments is that they come in a daylight balanced
color temperature. In the past, this was only possible
through the use of HMI lighting which is expensive
and outputs way too much light for indoor use.
5600k seems to be a little more video-camera
friendly with regards to color as the lack of red
seems to work well with video processing. The
benefit of investing in 5600k instruments is if one
needs to shoot outdoors, the lights do not need to
be gelled. This keeps the power at maximum as one
often needs all the output one can get when shooting
outdoors. The 600w LED is just enough to have an
impact for an outdoor talking head shot. Once again,
an unprecedented level of portability.

I will end this article where I started, amazed at
technology. This is why so many wait with
anticipation for new models of cameras, lenses and
support gear, it just plain helps us produce better
images at often more affordable price points.
Happy shooting!