While the majority of the filmmaking community was geeking out on SmallHD’s announcement of their brand new HDR monitors at NAB, some were left thinking “I just want a good, clean, large monitor from SmallHD!” To those who thought that, SmallHD says “You’re welcome!”
SmallHD announced two additions to their foray into large monitors with the 1703 Studio and the 2403 Studio. Think of them as the “lite” versions of the 1703 HDR and 2403 HDR.
Both new monitors carry their HDR version counterpart’s specs up until you talk about brightness. Since the HDR monitors have to be extremely bright to show you HDR, it makes sense that the big difference is the brightness of the monitor. All the other bells and whistles-including 3D LUT processing-will be the same. You also get a nice price drop if you don’t need the HDR benefits, which is cool.
1920×1080 HD resolution 17-inch
8-Bit Color Intelligence Engine
Milled Aluminum chassis
400 cd/m2 Panel
Colorflow 3D LUT Processing
Loadable 3D LUTs via SD card + Downstream 3D LUTs
RapidRail Shoe-Mount System
Professional Software Tools: HD Waveform, Scopes, Focus
Assist, Peaking, False Color, Zebra, and more..
1920×1080 HD resolution 24-inch
10-Bit Color Intelligence Engine
Milled Aluminum chassis
Colorflow 3D LUT Processing
Loadable 3D LUTs via SD card + Downstream 3D LUTs
RapidRail Shoe-Mount System
Professional Software Tools: HD Waveform, Scopes, Focus
Assist, Peaking, False Color, Zebra, and more..
Check out the full range of SmallHD products at Filmtools.com
Available only for APS-C cameras, the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM announced on 17 February 2016 is the first of a new generation of Canon lenses, designed NANO USM, mixing the best of two worlds: STM or stepping motor lenses, and the classic USM system from Canon.
Besides heralding a new AF technology, the lens also introduces a new connection, making it possible to add a Power Zoom Adapter, PZ-E1, which allows to zoom the lens while capturing video. With a set of buttons on the left side of the Power Zoom base, users can adjust the speed of zooming, for a smooth operation that combines with the fast and precise AF focus provided by the Dual Pixel AF system from cameras as the recent EOS 80D. The system is also compatible with other Canon APS-C cameras using either Dual Pixel AF or Hybrid CMOS AF III, although you need the pair available now: the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (NANO) USM and the Power Zoom Adapter, PZ-E1. This is a feature we will probably see implemented in future lenses from Canon, across the different mounts. Maybe soon Canon will introduce a similar lens to the EOS-1D X Mark II, which already uses Dual Pixel AF.
It is important to refer to the NANO characteristic of the lens, because this is the third lens of this focal range launched by Canon for EF-S mounts since 2009, when the original version, IS, appeared. The original lens uses a Micro Motor to drive AF, something Canon changed for the second version, launched in 2012, a lens using the STM system. The EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, which appears in some markets as the kit lens for the EOS 70D, uses a Stepping Motor to move the lens elements, a new autofocus technology claimed to offer “smooth and silently focus”, able to “achieve continuous AF while recording video”.
The STM lenses, a name that Canon also refers to as “Smooth Transitions for Motion” do exactly what Canon says: offer a nearly silent and fast way to focus both in video and photography. But Canon wanted to take things a bit further, so they developed a new lens, the recent EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (NANO) USM, a newly designed lens with a premium exterior design presented as the kit lens for the new Canon EOS 80D camera.
The EOS 80D camera has received some of the best reviews for a Canon DSLR model in recent times, but the lens also deserves some attention, as it sets a starting point for a new and exciting new generation of lenses from Canon. This is the first Canon lens equipped with Nano USM, a new type of focusing motor that combines the benefits of a ring USM (ultrasonic motor) for high-speed AF during still photo shooting and lead-screw type STM (stepping motor) for smooth and quiet movie AF, and improved the driving speed of the focusing lens up to 4.3x (Tele) and 2.5x (Wide) faster than the previous model. The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens also provides up to four stops of optical image stabilization.
The Nano USM unit comprises an elastic metal body and a ceramic voltage element. By changing the frequency and phase of the high-frequency voltage applied to the ceramic voltage element, drive control of rotational direction and speed is achieved. In perfect combination, frequency control and phase control provide focus lens drive with a control algorithm that’s ideally suited to both still image and movie shooting.
While it is hard to confirm if this new lens has improved the driving speed of the focusing elements up to 4.3x (Tele) and 2.5x (Wide) faster than the previous model, it surely is fast and silent. Once you press the shutter, the time to get the subject under the AF point in focus is… fast! Very fast! And when moving focus from point to point in video, even racking focus, the system is there, following the command given by your finger moving over the LCD touch-screen. I must admit I looked suspiciously to the touch-screens used in cameras, when they first appeared, but two weeks using the EOS 80D made me a convert. I discovered that when I picked a EOS 5D Mark III and tried to control it moving my finger over the LCD…
I bought the new lens together with the EOS 80D, as it made complete sense for me as a new system for both video and photography. My experience with the lens so far dictates that it will be in my regular bag, because of the coverage it gives me in both video and photography. The field of view has a 35 mm equivalent focal length of 28.8-216mm, which for me is a about right, as I do not use the wide-angle setting much – mostly creating panoramas when I need to cover more space -, and I like the reach the 216mm gives me, especially when used for subjects as flowers. This lens has a close focusing point of 15.4? (390mm) which means I get a magnification of 0.28x, very good for a lens of this type.
If you’re used to adjust focus on your lens manually, even with the camera off, just to check composition, you’ll have to change habits with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (NANO) USM, as it is a power assisted lens, meaning you need to power the camera up to be able to use the lens. I would also like to have a distance scale available on the lens, but then, again, the scale was missing on previous editions, so I guess I’ll have to do without it. For a long time I used an old EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 USM, which I still have around, that had a distance scale, so I somehow was expecting one on this one too.
On the good side, this lens looks better than previous models. No silver or gold line around the barrel, a nice soft matte black finish that looks good and feels better. It’s nice to hold, fits in the hand, and the zoom and focus rings are well positioned and the right size. While it seems solidly built, this is not a pro-lens from Canon, so you sould not expect the results you get from Canon’s L lenses or other professional grade lenses. Still, the results are quite good, considering the price of $599 asked for the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (NANO) USM.
Bought in a kit with the EOS 80D it is even less expensive. So much, in fact, that when I ordered my kit I checked with the vendor to make sure I would get the NANO USM and not an older model. Having used the lens for two weeks now, I am quite happy with the results and the focal range covered. While many people will go for a 18-200mm because of the extended reach, that makes it a good travel lens, I prefer this one, as a range of 18-200mm is more of a compromise when it comes to optical quality. This EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (NANO) USM seems to be the right choice, and the results I’ve with it, from flower closeups to single and group portraits under different conditions confirm me it is rather good for the variety of subjects it allows one to cover.
I only made one test video with it until now – although I’ve been playing with the video system multiple times – but I made the mistake of using one new Picture Style for some of it: Fine Detail. It is a kind of unsharp process in camera that works great for some kinds of photographs (more about this another day) but may be a little too much for some subjects captured on video. Still, what I wanted to check was the versatility of the lens for video coverage, and how the new STM NANO USM worked along with the Dual Pixel AF of the EOS 80D. It works like a charm, as is usually said, and I can’t wait to try some more soon. Until then, here is a first “field report” of a nice Canon pair: the EOS 80D with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (NANO) USM.
Photographers and videographers love light stands, big and small. The big ones I always keep an eye on, but the small ones tend to be misplaced or simply lost. I could say I am almost glad I lose them, because it gave me a good reason to write this article.
From Justin clamps with ball-head to hold my flashes or LED panels, to a small tripod that allows me to keep a light source almost anywhere I want, the light stands I use are not just the regular ones you find in a studio. I use different ones, besides adapting some unexpected supports for flashes and LED panels. Anything that can hold a light will be used, either for photography or video. From rubber bands to a friend’s hand – then called a VALS or Voice Activated Lighting Stand or System – I pick whatever I can. I’ve a growing collection of light stands – not the VALS type, though – , and I tend to know where they are, picking them up according to the different needs of a shoot.
One light stand I use since its launch is the NastyClamp, a concept and project that seems to be dead by now, but that was an interesting suggestion for photographers moving around in 2012. The Nasty Clamp is a metal spring clamp, a bit like a Justin clamp, but with an extendable bendable arm that can hold a flash, a LED light panel or whatever you want. With the shorter arm you can place a small DSLR with – small – lens on top of it. It also works great for most compacts. I use it for flashes, for LED light panels and, imagine, to keep reflectors and diffusers in place.
Another light stand I use, this one more recently, is the Splat, from Miggo. The Splat is a three legged tripod able to flex its legs around almost anything, to hold your camera or accessories in multiple positions. I tested the SLR version, which joins the versions for Mirrorless and GoPro cameras, last Christmas, and the Splat has now a place in my bag. It’s foldable so it does not occupy much space and it is great to support lights, and that’s what I use it for.
The Justin clamp – mine are from Manfrotto – is also something I carry along if I need a specific support. The fact that it has a version with a positionable miniature ball-head with a plastic flash shoe attachment to allow it to clip and position a flash unit wherever it is needed makes the clamp a flexible support that I use alone and also as part of my field studio kit for flower photography done the Meet Your Neighbours way.
One type of support that many people tend to forget and that I use a lot, is the simple flash stand that usually comes with each flash. Besides allowing you to place a flash almost anywhere in a stable way, it can also be used with tripods, stands and clamps, through the built-in metal 1/4?-20 female thread, which is standard in the industry. I guess many people never remember to take this small flash stand from the box, forgetting how usable it is once you start to move your flashes away from your camera.
My use of those small flash stands is very much connected to my use of flashes away from the camera, a practice that became second nature to me, especially with the use of radio triggers for the flashes. A small stand like this can be placed everywhere, behind a sofa at home or behind a tree in nature, to extend your options when it comes to light. Now with video, I use the small flash stands as a quick way to position LED panels. So, my flash stands transformed into light stands too!
Now, through using them so widely, I became aware of one thing: I tend to misplace them and, in some cases, to lose them. Yesterday, while photographing some product, I could not find the only flash stand I still have around. I managed without it and did find a way around to position my lights, so I forgot the subject, until today. I went out this morning, to a photography store, to buy batteries and a 67mm filter protection filter I needed for a new lens, and while there decided to ask if they had any flash stands I could buy.
It happens they did, and that’s how I came home with one unit. Suddenly I had a good reason to write this article. You see, I found not only a good flash stand, but one that can take three flashes… or at least two like the size of mine, and it does seem to be a good new accessory to carry in my bag all the time. I just hope I don’t lose this one.
The compact shoe stand, made by JJC in China, is suitable for Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus flashes and other accessories, but excluding the Sony/Minolta iISO, Sony Multi-Interface flashes. I’ve checked their website and they also offer versions that will suit other flash brands. Made of ABS, lightweight, stable and apparently durable, the JJC MF-3 Compact Shoe Stand has a three standard hot-shoe positions design, meaning it can take more than flashes. As long as the accessories use the standard hot shoe system, anything from a remote trigger to a microphone can be mounted on the stand, which can also be mounted on a tripod, stand or clamp through the standard 1/4?-20 metal female thread.
This little piece of plastic allows me to place two flashes anywhere in a quick way and is also a good solution if you need to mount two flashes on the top of a tripod. I know there are other solutions around, I’ve some, even a Joe McNally signature Triflash head, but this is a very portable solution and, as I discovered, it allows me to position the flash heads in various directions. I’ll have to explore this further. The flash/light stand is also useful to place LED panels, something that I will use in my video.
A final note: I will buy one or two more of JJC’s flash stands to carry in my bags, so I always have one available when I go out. And after buying this one, I found my Phottix flash stand in one bag I have been using lately: the Multi-Mount Holster 30 from Mindshift Gear. So in the end I had not lost that one, simply forgot where it was. Glad I did, now that I think about it! I guess this article would not have seen the light of day otherwise.
HDR? Check. 4K Resolution? Check. OLED? Check. The 30? Sony BVM-X300 OLED HDR 4K Pro Monitor has all the right boxes checked for Technicolor to rely on the X300 as a reference monitor.
If you don’t know who Technicolor is you might want to freshen up. These pros have been part of film-making for 100 years. To say they know what they’re talking about is an utter understatement. The well-known, and historic, production/post-production house works on everything from Hollywood features, broadcast TV, and marketing material for major studio productions to indies. If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz (1939) and it’s high saturated color you’ve seen Technicolor at work. Like it did back then with color film, Technicolor has been blazing a trail in High Dynamic Range (HDR) via various paths including the foundation of the UHD Alliance. The UHD Alliance services go from color grading, mastering, VFX and delivery all now have incorporated HDR content.
“Technicolor’s technology is now also being used in live event production,” said Josh Limor, VP, Technology & Ecosystem Development at Technicolor. “This includes implementation of our award-winning Intelligent Tone Management solution into live workflows to allow for real-time up conversion from Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) to HDR, lowering the cost of HDR live content production, such as sports.”
This is where Sony’s BVM-X300 steps in and helps out. Technicolor uses the X300 as its reference monitor for color grading HDR Home Video and HDR Television Series. Why not, right? 4K, OLED, and HDR all three together equals a killer reference monitor.
“We grade to the open standard HDR quality metrics established by the UHD Alliance and that content is being released through Technicolor’s HDR delivery system, UltraHD Blu-ray discs, and HDR-10,” added Limor. “The Sony monitor, with its 100% coverage of the P3 gamut at a D65 white point and amazing contrast plays perfectly for creating UHD Alliance premium content, ensuring consumers will have the best experience on both types of UHD Alliance premium certified devices.”
“This monitor has become the de facto “standard reference monitor” for mastering HDR content, primarily due to its stability, uniformity, and fabulous contrast ratio,” added Josh Pines, Vice President of Imaging Research and Development for Digital Intermediates at Technicolor. “What is especially impressive is the monitor’s ability to maintain color fidelity and contrast at off-axis viewing angles – something surprisingly rare with modern technology displays. This feature is of crucial importance in color correction sessions where several creatives (e.g. the colorist, the cinematographer, director and producers) are typically sitting side-by-side, all viewing the same monitor from different angles simultaneously.”
“Having a monitor capable of full UHD resolution allows us to see the complete resolution of the content being mastered,” said Dennis Berardi, VFX Supervisor at MR X. “Our QC team can see any potential VFX composite or matte issues down to the pixel level and that is not possible on an HD screen even if it has HDR.”
Filling A Niche
According to Sony the BVM-X300 was designed to fill a specific space in regards to reference monitors. “High-dynamic range cameras have been around for a while, but until now, it’s been impossible to really view an image from a camera like the F5, F55 or F65 as it was originally captured,” said Gary Mandle at Sony. “The best you could hope for was to archive the raw content and wait for the display technology to catch up. Now, the X300 presents a solution that allows direct viewing at full range without the need to make any conversion LUTs or changes to the native image.” With a price falling at $17,995 it’s one helluva a niche.
Designed to fit like a glove around the Leica SL (Typ 601) the Metal Jacket – Cinema Production Cage for Leica SL (Typ 601) to use the full name is designed and field tested by cinematographers and mastercrafted in Italy (lake Como) by LockCircle.
Available in “Classic Black” anodized finish, in hard anodized (Mil-Spec) “Dura-T (Tactical Grey)” or “Dura-K (Kant Titanium Brown)” for uncompromising quality, the Metal Jacket has 105 threads 1/4″-20 and 20 threads 3/8″-16 for multi accessories mounting like viewfinders, 4K HDMI Recorders, monitors and heavy-duty camera mounting requested by the film industry. Still, the the Metal Jacket cage is incredibly lightweight (225gr- 7.9 o.z.), while also offering several threads to mount the (AC) tape measurement (titanium pin) hook at the exact sensor focal plane.
According to LockCircle, the Metal Jacket integrates with the CineBlock interface mount, the original CW Sonderoptic Leica SL-PL Mount creating a monolithic rock solid cinematic production camera: perfect to shoot with Summicron-C and Summilux-C Leica Cinema (Academy Awarded) lenses. The camera baseplate offers really secure mounting with 1/4″- 20 and 3/8″-16 threads (titaniun camera screws supplied), and it has also front and rear threads 1/4″-20 useful for other mounting applications.
An ultra lightweight MicroMega baseplate for 15mm rods is also available, featuring an innovative modular (joinable) 15mm rods system, CNC machined from genuine titanium grade 5.
This new cage fits the idea of the Leica SL as a camera able to compete with Sony, Canon and Nikon when it comes to video. That’s what Leica suggested when the camera was announced, October 2015. The Leica SL offers 4K at 24 frames per second and all the specifications professionals expect to find in a video camera. According to the information provided by Leica then, the Leica SL “fulfills even the most stringent demands of moviemakers as a fully-fledged video camera. Thanks to its 24 MP CMOS sensor and high-performance Maestro II series processor, the Leica SL enables the production of professional videos in 4K resolution.”
The new cage for the Leica SL extends the idea of a system for cinema production. Pro Video Coalition contacted LockCircle and can reveal that the Metal Jacket will have its “premiere” at Paramount Studios, in Hollywood, during the Cine Gear Expo days, that’s June 3-4. There will be different packages available and a final price is not yet defined as there are, we were told, so many different parts and finishes.
Deliveries of the product will start realistically at the end of June. Follow the link to find some more information about the Metal Jacket Cinema Production Cage for Leica SL (Typ 601) from LockCircle.
A digest of last week’s news is a selection of some of the news from week 19 from 2016 related to the worlds of photography and video, covering multiple topics, always rounded up with a reading suggestion.
DS916+, Synology’s new NAS
Synology Inc. launched a new 4-bay scalable NAS designed for professionals and growing businesses, the DS916+. Powered by a quad-core CPU, the unit performs high-speed computing and data encryption tasks. With flexible scalability up to 9 drives, DS916+ is able to handle rapidly growing storage capacity needs. Equipped with DiskStation Manager (DSM) 6.0 and versatile add-on packages, users are able to perform seamless file syncing and sharing, productive collaboration, and smooth disaster recovery on DS916+. Powered by a hardware-accelerated transcoding engine, DS916+ allows you to transcode and stream H.264 4K / 1080p videos to high-definition TV, digital media players, mobile handsets, and computers in the required format, making it easy to watch videos without having to install a 3rd party player. 4K transcoding is available only through Synology’s Video Station, DS video, Media Server.
VR rhymes with GeForce 1080
Nvidia’s new flagship GeForce GTX 1080 is, according to the company, the most advanced graphics card ever created. Discover unprecedented performance, power efficiency, and visual experiences… and be one of the first to try it, buying the world’s first GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. Colorful announced it recently and will have the unit available for sale by the end of May. The GeForce GTX 1080 is based on the GP104 GPU armed with 2560 CUDA cores and will have a base engine clock of 1607Mhz and can boost up 1733Mhz. Complementing it will be 8GB of GDDR5X video memory running at an effective clock rate of 10Ghz on a 256-bit bus.
The GeForce GTX 1080 is designed to deliver 3x more performance than previous-generation graphics card and its breakthrough innovations give users new possibilities to enjoy VR experiences. Colorful looks forward to bring their GeForce GTX 1080 on May 27th and the card will also be presented at Computex 2016 this June. Expect to pay around $500 for one.
Nikon’s patent for a 100x optical lens
Apparently, Nikon is not happy with the reach of their Coolpix P900 model, launched in 2015, which features a 83x optical zoom (24-2000mm at f/2.8 – 6.5, associated with a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor) because they’ve a new patent for a 100x optical zoom lens (4.4-440mm f/2.8-8.3 or 24-2400mm equivalent) designed for a 1/2.3? sensor. The website Egami has the details for the new lens, which will probably be part of a new compact super zoom camera. The Coolpix P1000?
Three Trioplan lenses
Restoring the Trioplan lens line means that all good things come in threes. Our major 2017 lens announcement will be the third and final Trioplan in our line-up. With this note on their Kickstarter campaign page for the Trioplan f2.9/50, the German company Meyer-Optik Gorlitz confirms that there is a third lens to come from them. The lens will be available for different mirrorless systems, including Canon EOS-M, Fuji X, Micro Four thirds cameras and Sony E.
Essence of Photography and Composition
Rocky Nook’s eBook deal, valid until May 23, lets you have the eBook The Essence of Photography for $9.99, meaning you save $22.00. Use the coupon ESSENCE to fuel your inspiration with this eBook, a compendium about seeing and creativity, written by Bruce Barnbaum. The paperback deal of the week is Photographic Composition, by Albrecht Rissler, available for $15.99 (you save $24). It’s a 192 page eBook on the principles of image design. Use coupon COMP to get the book at this special price.
Designed for multiple uses but presented as a viable solution for users interested in image or video editing, the AOC Q2781PQ is the newest monitor from AOC to enter the market. It will be be available in July 2016 in UK, with a price of GBP279 (+/- $400). No indication, yet, of availability in other markets.
A new addition to AOC’s Style line, the AOC Q2781PQ impresses first for its ultra slim design and asymmetric stand, already used by AOC in previous models but not in a model offering this resolution. The display comes in a new 4-side “borderless” design with 5.7 mm black borders on the upper, left and right sides and a 6.25 mm border on the lower side. But it is its QHD resolution (2560 x 1440, over 3.6 million pixels) that will really attract users looking for some extra resolution and desktop space.
The AOC Q2781PQ features a modern AH-IPS panel that allows for wide viewing angles of 178?, ensuring brilliant colours with 100% sRGB consistency and best colour uniformity from any perspective. Modern features such as Flicker-FREE technology and multiple video inputs turn the AOC Q2781PQ into a functional and pleasant companion at home or in the office. Users who frequently have to spend long hours in front of a display will benefit from AOC Flicker-FREE technology, which regulates the monitor’s brightness through a DC (direct current) backlight system and thus reduces the unpleasant flickering that so frequently causes eye discomfort and fatigue.
Because a monitor is, many times, more than a tool for working, serving multiple purposes, the needs of those interested in hooking the stylish monitor up with their gaming consoles, Blu-ray players or portable devices such as laptops are catered for through a range of up-to-date inputs. These include a DisplayPort, two HDMI inputs, D-Sub (VGA) and a built-in headphone jack.
Featuring e-Saver to reduce power consumption, and a response time of 4ms GTG, the AOC Q2781PQ may be a monitor to consider, whether you are looking for a monitor to edit images, work on spreadsheets at home or watching movies.
[Update Tuesday morning: sold out; no more spaces left.] HDR involves fundamental changes in how we think about exposing, grading, and delivering images, yet we’re still in the dark about best practices and practical considerations. AbelCine in Burbank will shed some light on the topic Tuesday, as will Deluxe in NYC on Wednesday.
Tuesday, 17 May at 6:30pm in Burbank CA, AbelCine and colorist Dado Valentic present an hour-long seminar, The Merits of the New High Dynamic Range, followed by hands-on with HDR-oriented gear.
This evening event will consist of a one hour seminar that takes a look at the HDR production chain, followed by a Q&A. You will see first hand the content and what it takes to create and deliver a production in HDR. Once you glance at an HDR TV screen you won’t need any convincing – images look better, fresher, and more exciting! If 3D was interesting for its novelty and 4K advantages were not visible to all, it is clear to see that HDR is in a category of it’s own. The only question is, how long will it take before ‘Premium’ becomes the norm?
Manufacturers such as Canon, Sony, Atomos, SmallHD and others will be on hand with some of their newest products so that attendees can get a closer look at how HDR can affect their workflow, both on-set and in post.
6:30 – 7:00pm Check-in. Manufacturers will be set up on the showroom floor with their gear. (Food & drink will be served.)
7:00 – 8:00pm HDR Seminar
8:00 – 8:30pm Hands on time with gear in the showroom.
1. What is HDR?
2. What is UHD Premium?
3. UHD in production chain
4. Technical Guide: HDR standards
5. Dolby Vision
6. SMPTE ST2084
7. BBC HLG HDR
Details and registration online. You do need to sign up; space is somewhat limited [and it’s sold out as of Tuesday morning]… and AbelCine needs to know how much food & drink to serve!
The Usual Disclaimer: Nobody paid me to to publicize this event and there’s no material connection between me and AbelCine or Dado Valentic. And as I’m over two hours away as the CRJ700 flies, I can’t even drop by just to partake of the food & drink, either. So if you’re going, have a pastry for me.
Some say it was by mistake, but the truth is that Canon created the trend of using DSLRs for video. The launch of the EOS 5D MK II, in 2008, changed the landscape and allowed more and more people to start exploring with moving images. In 2016, the list of DSLRs able to shoot video continues to grow. Here is a compilation of some of the best.
While the market offers nowadays multiple other options, for many users DSLRs are still the way to go, so it makes sense to compile a listing of the REAL DSLRS available in the market. This new list continues a first one I did for Pro Video Coalition in 2014, and which can still be used if you’re looking for a second-hand DSLR for video. But this new listing points to some of the newest models and choices available for those who are searching for options in a market segment some consider is a dying breed. The continuous update of models suggests they may be wrong…
Before we go ahead, though, its maybe a good idea to correct some misunderstandings and, from my point of view, wrong ideas people have about DSLRs in general and the reasons why people by one system instead of another. Consistency may be a good reason for that choice. That’s something that is still found under some brand names coming from the photographic market and missing in others. A good recent example is Samsung, that entered the market some years ago, first in photography and in association with Pentax, declaring they were going to be number one in a couple of years. Then they were going to be number one in a segment of photography, then another, and another again, and more recently, they simply quit the market. Customers that bought into the system are now left without a forward path and need to start looking in a new direction. Another example, although not video related, is the modular system from Ricoh. Not to speak about all those who bought Lytro cameras, following the excitement of magazines and websites that wrote the days of classical photography were gone and we did not need to focus any longer. Yes… we still do. I am glad it is so!
Although some people suggest that DSLRs as video cameras are going to be a thing of the past, the truth is that DSLRs are here to stay, as many photographers still prefer to use them in their photography, and by extension in their video. For many photographers, video became an extension of their work, and if they keep doing both, it probably makes sense to use a DSLR. Because of that dual function, it also makes sense, when writing about DSLRs, to refer their functionalities both for photography and video, as usually those using them – a lot of people, and a growing segment of the market, it seems – use the cameras both for stills and video. Finally, as is my case, although we can carry multiple cameras, many times the ideal solution is to have one camera that does both things, so you have to carry less gear round. My own experience as led me to search for such a solution, so I can just wander around with a single camera that will do both things. When I absolutely need it, I will carry one or more extra bodies.
Buying into a system is something photographers have done for years, and although some do change from one brand to another, many stay within the same system all their life. This means a huge investment in lenses and other accessories, that can’t simply be thrown out every time a new camera from another brand comes to the market. For a photographer transitioning into video but still keeping a foot in each area, it probably makes sense to find solutions within the brand used, as they are usually available. While I understand that someone starting from the ground may look at the options from the Mirrorless systems available, someone that has been using DSLRs all their life may well want to keep using them. Unless there are very specific reasons not to do so.
So, this list is for those who want to use DSLRs. This said, there is one important question to answer: what is a DSLR? I’ve to go back to this question because I keep seeing cameras from the mirrorless universe and others referred as DSLRs, what is plain wrong. So, I do think it is time to state that a digital single-lens reflex camera (also called a digital SLR or DSLR) is a digital camera combining the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital sensor. This means that such a camera is different from all the others, as the light that travels through the lens to a mirror reaches also an optical viewfinder, offering a real and clean image of the subject. When the shutter is activated the mirror goes up and the light reaches the sensor. That’s what a TRUE original SLR is!
If we leave aside names like Leica, which cater for a small segment of the market, there are only three real DSLR brands in the market today: Canon, Nikon and Pentax. Sony has stopped doing DSLRs in August 2010, and created what they call SLT, or single-lens translucent. Although similar in appearance to a DSLR, these cameras a fixed semi-reflective mirror, a technology Canon used in their SLR Pellix cameras in the sixties of last century but dropped after using in in some early EOS film cameras. Sony, which uses electronic viewfinders, also uses the acronym ILC – Interchangeable-Lens Cameras as an umbrella to all their cameras with… interchangeable lenses.
Sony is not the only camera maker to create models that are similar in appearance to REAL DSLRs. Browsing around the web one finds terms like “DSLR form-factor” or “DSLR-like” referring to models from Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung and others. Although most of those models have no optical viewfinder and rely on LCD screens or electronic viewfinders that, although having evolved from the stage of CCTV camera monitors, still do not compete with the clean image of a REAL optical viewfinder, people tend to call them DSLR, simply because many of them look like… DSLR. What, in fact, they are not! So please, if you feel tempted to comment on this article and mention models from the mirrorless world as a viable choice for this list, please have a look at the title: The best DSLRs for video in 2016.
This list of the best DSLRs for video in 2016 covers both the video and some photographic aspects of the cameras presented, as I do think it makes sense to present each model as a whole, considering buyers will probably be buying a photography tool first but also want to explore the video aspects. This makes complete sense to me and, again, from my experience: I am a photographer that also does some video. For me a DSLR makes absolute sense, the video segment is there as another creative – and professional – option I want to explore. I find many people with similar needs in the real world!
This list, which may be a starting point for your own explorations, picks the most important elements for video as described by the camera makers, and when possible links to articles that will provide you about more information on each model. I left out the entry level models, which although offering video, do not offer the best AF solutions when it comes to DSLRs. It should also be noted that Pentax is present with less models, as their offer in terms of video is, obviously, less exciting than what Nikon and Canon offer. So, without further ado, let us present a list of – some – of the available and most recent DSLRs for video:
Canon EOS 1DX Mark II
For filmmakers and photographers looking to do more than still photography alone with a DSLR camera and EF lenses, the EOS-1D X Mark II camera offers high resolution DCI 4K video at frame rates up-to-60p, with smooth movie recording to an in-camera CFast 2.0 memory card. An additional card slot supports standard CF memory cards up to UDMA 7. The built-in headphone jack supports real-time audio monitoring. Two additional EOS ‘firsts’ include 4K Frame Grab and 120p Full HD recording. The camera’s 4K Frame Grab function allows users to isolate a frame from recorded 4K video and create an 8.8 megapixel still JPEG image in-camera. When combined with the EOS-1D X Mark II’s high-sensitivity full-frame CMOS sensor, the new camera’s ability to record Full HD video at frame rates up to 120p will allow videographers to produce high quality slow motion video even in extremely low light.
To make video shooting even more intuitive, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera’s touchscreen LCD allows videographers to select the camera’s AF point before and during video recording with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which provides responsive, accurate and quiet camcorder-like video autofocus to DSLRs.
The introduction of Dual Pixel AF in this model, along with a touch-screen LCD, points to what may be a Canon decision for their next models in the EOS X and EOS XX series, while the EOS XXX family uses the less sophisticated Hybrid CMOS AF III. This also indicates that Canon will continue to develop the Dual Pixel AF as a viable autofocus system for video with DSLRs. Something that makes the EOS-1D X Mark II and the EOS 80D, which are examples of the new and future generations, quite different from previous models from Canon.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
The 5D Mark III, launched in March 2012, is still the reference for many when it comes to DSLRs used in film making, but its reign may well be about to end, as the introduction of Dual Pixel AF in modern cameras from Canon is changing the whole landscape. Expect a EOS 5D Mark IV, rumored to have dual Pixel AF and touchscreen to be available soon.
A full frame camera, with a 22.3 MP sensor and Full HD (1080p at 30fps) the EOS 5D Mark III builds on the reputation of the EOS 5D Mark II, with a range of new features introduced following feedback received from photographers to provide even better Full HD video performance. As well as offering the depth-of-field control loved by video professionals, the new full-frame sensor combines with the vast processing power of DIGIC 5+ to improve image quality by virtually eradicating the presence of moire, false colour and other artefacts. The addition of a movie mode switch and a recording button also offers greater usability, enabling videographers to begin shooting immediately when movie mode is engaged.
Additional movie functions include manual exposure control and an enhanced range of high bit-rate video compression options, with intraframe (ALL-I) and interframe (IPB) methods both supported. Variable frame rates range from 24fps to 60fps, and the addition of SMPTE timecode support provides greater editing flexibility and easier integration into multi-camera shoots. Users can also check and adjust audio during recording via the camera’s Quick Control screen and a headphone socket enables sound level monitoring both during and after shooting. Enhanced processing power provided by DIGIC 5+ also makes it possible to conveniently trim the length of recorded movies in-camera.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Launched at the end of 2014, the EOS 7D Mark II camera offers users the ability to shoot in 1080p Full HD or 720p HD video up to 60p enabling slow-motion capture at full resolution in either ALL-I or IPB codecs with optional embedded time code. Users can also choose between .MOV and .MP4 recording formats for maximum flexibility. The EOS 7D Mark II camera’s mini HDMI port can be used to record uncompressed Full HD video to external recorders.
Canon’s Stepping Motor (STM) lenses, such as the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, significantly reduce focus motor noise, letting the EOS 7D Mark II camera’s built-in microphone capture clear audio of the scene being shot without picking up unwanted noise from the lens. The EOS 7D Mark II camera also features a stereo microphone port and outputs stereo audio via the camera’s mini-HDMI port. The EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR camera is equipped with a headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring, as well as a silent control feature that allows users to adjust audio levels during recordings.
The recent launch of the EOS 80D, makes it difficult, for a photographer that also wants to use video, to choose between the EOS 7D Mark II and the EOS 80D. The touchscreen LCD on the EOS 80D, along with the Dual Pixel AF, make it a better choice for video, a constant reference on all the reviews available about the new camera, which is a video-centric DSLR.
Canon EOS 80D
The EOS 80D is the new video-centric camera from Canon and it takes the promises of the EOS 70D to a new level, with a faster Dual Pixel AF system that now works both for video and stills. It does not offer 4K, but allows users to shoot in 1080p Full HD video up to 60 fps, compared to 30 fps in the Canon EOS 70D, in MP4 format and in either ALL-I or IPB compression modes with optional embedded time code. For expanded creativity, the Canon EOS 80D DSLR camera features HDR movie and Time-Lapse movie modes and Movie creative filters like fantasy, old movie, memory, dramatic monochrome and miniature. Movie Servo AF custom settings allow users to speed up or slow down focusing speeds, enhancing creativity and artistic expression. For added flexibility, the Canon EOS 80D digital SLR camera also features a built-in headphone jack, a built-in stereo microphone with manual audio level adjustment, and an additional stereo microphone jack.
Some will miss the HDMI out and other features that video shooters like to have around, and photographers will also miss some of the AF option present in the EOS 7D Mark II and, probably for marketing reason, not present here, but the initial reaction to the EOS 80D, from multiple sources, points this as one of the best DSLRs Canon launched in recent times, both for photography and video.
Canon EOS 70D
Launched in July 2013, the 20.2 MP APS-C sensor EOS 70D allows photographers to create high quality movies with ease. Full HD (1920 x 1080p) resolution video can be captured with a choice of selectable frame rates, including 30, 25 or 24fps, and 60 and 50fps at 720p, and a range of compression options for post-editing and sharing. Thanks to new Dual Pixel CMOS AF, Movie Servo AF mode tracks subjects as they move, or even as shots are recomposed, ensuring they’re always in focus. Alternatively, users can select different focus areas over 80 per cent of the frame simply by tapping the touch-screen, even when recording – ensuring that movies stay sharp and clear if a subject moves or the user changes the composition of a shot.
Videographers can also enjoy stereo sound using the internal microphone, or enhance audio with the built-in external microphone input terminal. Full control over settings such as aperture and ISO is also possible within manual mode, giving users greater freedom as their skills develop.
The EOS 70D is at the moment the most accessible solution if you want a camera with Dual Pixel AF. Its price is dropping now that the EOS 80D entered the market.
Canon EOS Rebel T6s / EOS 760D
The EOS Rebel T6s is one of two models launched by Canon in 2015, the second being the Rebel T6i (or EOS 750D). I pick here the EOS Rebel T6s because it offers an extra LCD top panel that allows users to better control the camera. The EOS Rebel T6s camera features Canon’s new Hybrid CMOS AF III image sensor-embedded autofocus system, which allows for high levels of speed and accuracy when capturing Full HD video or high-resolution photos in Live View… although not as fast or precise as the Dual Pixel AF system. The camera offers high-speed continuous shooting up to five frames-per-second (fps), has a 19-point all cross-type AF system, as well as focus area selection modes.
The EOS Rebel T6s camera feature EOS Movie mode, which captures Full HD 1080p resolution video up to 30 fps in MP4 format, for high quality shooting and easy movie sharing on select social networking sites. Manual exposure control, digital zoom and an external stereo microphone jack are provided for advanced users using the EOS Rebel T6s.
The D5 supports movie creation in 4K, which offers a resolution higher than HD or full-HD movies, an indispensable feature for professionals involved in film-making and video content creation. High-resolution 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)/30p, 25p, 24p movies can be recorded to a memory card inserted in the camera, or, with simultaneous HDMI output, they can be displayed on an external monitor or recorded as uncompressed video to an external recorder. With support for the maximum standard sensitivity of ISO 102400, as well as even higher sensitivity settings up to Hi 5 (equivalent to ISO 3280000), even movies recorded at these high sensitivities will exhibit superior picture quality, says Nikon in the information provided. 4K UHD time-lapse movies can also be generated in-camera.
The camera has a caveat: a limit of the 4K recording time, which only extends to 3 minutes, contrary to the 30 minutes of the Nikon D500. Apparently Nikon will have a firmware update by June 2016 that changes this, transforming the D5 in a real option for Nikon users that want to use the D5 for video. This, obviously, if you need 4K!
Presented in July 2014, the D810 is the full-frame DSLR that cinematographers, camera operators and multimedia photographers using the Nikon have elected since its arrival. It probably even managed to lure some others to choose the Nikon D810 as their video camera. The Full Frame 36.3MP sensor offers proven and remarkable image quality and dynamic range to 1080p videos recorded at 60/50/30/25/24p uncompressed to an external device like the Atomos Ninja-2, compressed to an internal CF/SD card or both simultaneously. But there is more: you can move between dark and light scenes without any iris or frame-rate adjustments thanks to ISO Auto Adjust and also smoothly change a shot’s depth of field with power iris control.
Launched in September 2014, the D750 is Nikon’s first FX-format D-SLR with a tilting Vari-Angle LCD, with robust construction to meet the needs of working in the field. The precision 3.2-inch, 1,229K dot screen tilts to accommodate shooting overhead, at waist level and is ideal for shooting photos or HD video on a tripod. For those serious about using a DSLR for video, the Nikon D750 delivers the same level of functionality found in the Nikon D810, with the maximum amount of manual control that’s essential for production applications.
The camera can capture video in Full HD 1920×1080 resolution at 60/30/24p and gives videographers and multimedia artists full manual control, including aperture adjustment. Like the D810, the Power Aperture feature provides smooth transitions while adjusting the aperture during recording, and in manual mode, users can control shutter speed and ISO.
The D750’s compact size and affordability will make it a welcome addition to any production environment, as will its FX and DX-format crop modes that make it a snap to adjust the focal range without swapping lenses. Implementing another indispensable feature on-set, footage can be recorded to the dual SD memory card slots, or simultaneously output to an external recorder or monitor via HDMI for a variety of applications. Camera operators also enjoy features such as headphone and microphone jacks, Zebra stripes to spot overexposed areas, as well as the ability to select frequency ranges for the internal stereo microphone. For time lapse, the camera utilizes Exposure Smoothing, a great feature that creates balanced exposure transitions between frames when using the time lapse or intervalometer feature.
Just like the D5, the D500 has the ability to capture 4K UHD video at up to 30p (3840×2160), as well as Full HD (1080p) video at a variety of frame rates. Ready for any production, the camera sports a host of pro video features derived from the D810, including uncompressed HDMI output and Picture Controls, but adds even more great features. These pro-level creative video features include the ability to create 4K time-lapse movies in-camera, Auto ISO smoothing to provide fluid transitions in exposure during recording, and the capability to record 4K UHD video to the card and output to HDMI simultaneously. When capturing 1080p Full HD content, the camera also has a new 3-axis electronic VR feature that can be activated regardless of the lens being used. Challenging video exposures are no problem for the D500, as it also adds in Active D-Lighting to Full HD video to balance exposure values within a scene to help prevent blown-out highlights.
The Nikon D7200 inherits many of the high-end video capabilities of Nikon’s latest full frame DSLRs, the Nikon D810 and Nikon D750. Ready to capture top-quality HD video at a moment’s notice, users can take advantage of a robust video feature set that allows videographers to record uncompressed and compressed Full HD 1080 footage at 30/25/24p and 1080 at 60/50p in 1.3x Crop Mode. Additionally, Auto ISO sensitivity is now available in manual mode, helping create smooth exposure transitions without changing shutter speed or aperture, while “zebra stripes” highlight display is available to confirm exposure. Video controls are available through a dedicated movie menu for quick access, while aspiring videographers can also utilize a built-in stereo microphone with 20 step adjustments to record smooth DSLR audio. The D7200 is also the first Nikon DX-format DSLR to feature a built-in Time Lapse Mode with exposure smoothing, making capturing a beautiful sunset time-lapse easier than ever.
The Pentax K-1 appears in this listing but it really should not be considered as a choice if you’re after a DSLR for video. It’s specifications, which follow previous models from Pentax, are acceptable when it comes to video images, but this is not a camera to compete with the offer from both Canon and Nikon. Ricoh does not even bother to mention video on the official press-release. This camera is mostly a photographer’s tool, and according to recent reviews a fantastic tool at that, so video, while present, is just for those moments when you need some moving images. But don’t expect anything special.
Presented as the world’s smallest dustproof, weather-resistant digital SLR camera with a variable-angle LCD monitor, wireless LAN and NFC functions, available in multiple colours, the Pentax K-S2, from 2015, offers Full HD movie (1920 x 1080 pixels; 30/25/24 frame rate) in the H.264 recording format, along with stereo sound. It even provides advanced movie functions, such as a 4K Interval Movie mode that connects still images recorded at a certain interval to create a single movie file, and a Star Stream mode to fade in and out the traces of stars to recorded movies.
This APS-C model with a 20 megapixel CMOS sensor also features a LCD monitor with a variable-angle design for the first time in a PENTAX digital SLR camera, an interesting option for photographers and video shooters.
Pentax K-3 II
The Pentax K-3 II, launched in 2015 has an evolution of the K-3 from 2013, captures Full HD movie clips (1920 x 1080 pixels; 60i/30p frame rate) in the H.264 recording format. It also comes equipped with a stereo mic terminal for external microphone connection and a headphone terminal. The user can even adjust the audio recording level manually and monitor sound pressure levels during microphone recording. In addition to a host of distinctive visual effects available for movie recording, the K-3 II also provides the interval movie mode, which captures a series of 4K-resolution movie clips at a fixed interval.
While the K-3 II is not exciting in terms of video, it represents, photographically, a major leap forward for Pentax, introducing features as Pixel Shift Resolution System, which is also a feature of the new K-1. A photographic tool, the camera has an APS-C-size CMOS image sensor with approximately 24.35 effective megapixels; an AA-filter-free design for high-resolution image reproduction; a high-performance 27-point AF system; high-speed continuous shooting at approximately 8.3 images per second; and a dependable dustproof, weather-resistant construction.
A final note for this compilation of DSLR cameras: with new models to be launched this year, in time for Photokina, the landscape for this segment of the market may, again, change. Still, not much has changed, and that’s one of the reasons why some models from the previous compilation make it to this one, as they continue to represent viable options, especially if you’re on a budget. But due to the recent introduction, especially by Canon and Nikon, of models that extend the options available in terms of video, it makes complete sense to update the listing of best REAL DSLRs for video. What’s done now! Enjoy!
[Update: registration info] Sometimes it’s worth the hassle to live in New York. Next Wednesday, May 18th, Panasonic and Deluxe host a 3-hour event showing off the DVX200, Varicam LT, and Varicam 35; screening HDR footage; and discussing HDR (high dynamic range) post and production.
Details from Panasonic’s Gregger Jones:
Please join us with Deluxe at 218 W 18th on the 12th floor on May 18.
This is a hands-on event of three Panasonic 4K Cine Cameras: the AG-DVX200 4K Camera, VariCam 35 4K Camera and the newly launched VariCam LT 4K Camera! This event includes HDR experts from Deluxe and technical experts from Panasonic to discuss HDR in Camera and Post, including, comparison of functions, production workflows (4K, HDR, & other), and how each affects your bottom line. See footage, and hands on the cameras and more. Register and learn about HDR, Deluxe and Panasonic VariCam.
The event is from 5:00-8:00pm on Wednesday, 18 May at Deluxe, 218 West 18th St in New York. Check in on the 12th floor; the event is on the 13th floor penthouse / roof deck — which almost sounds worth the trip by itself. The forecast calls for a chance of rain in the morning, ending by mid-day, with mid-60s temperatures by evening, so it looks like it’ll be quite pleasant. Dang, I wish I could be in NYC on the 18th.
If you decide to attend, please contact Panasonic’s Jeffrey Lawson ([email protected] or 201-427-0610) to so he can plan to have enough food and drink.
The Usual Disclaimer: Nobody paid me to to publicize this event and there’s no material connection between me and Panasonic and/or Deluxe. I’m over 2,400 miles away (3,900 kilometers or 2,304,000 Smoots) so I won’t even be able to freeload off the light food and drink.