Last night, I met a couple of friends-film aficionados- for a beer, a discussion developed and we talked about the pros and cons shooting with DSLR’s, full frame vs APSC’s, the DSLR form factor and the ridiculousness of building up insanely complex rigs around them, which, we all agreed, look great in photos on advertising pages, but are rather awkward in use because of their complexity and bulkiness. We mostly agreed that we prefer shooting with a Canon C300 or Sony FS700. Professional control without having to resort to add-ons. more after the break
Then we got all bend out of shape about sensor size, I insisted that after working extensively with cameras like the Sony FS100, FS700, the Canon C300, 5DmarkIII and the Nikon D800E I prefer the “pixels with soul” when shooting with full frame cameras over anything from a super35mm or APCS sized sensor. (The C300 takes a special place, more on that later)
The dynamic range I get from the FF cams combined with the shallow depth of field looks magical to me.
The C300 is an exception because it delivers the best dynamic range (better codec) however, it falls short in the shallow depth of field department. The camp was split over these cameras and once we started talking about sound recording, we agreed again, the advantage shifted back to the pro oriented video cams, we all agreed that we need XLR inputs, and proper controls to monitor sound. We also agreed that fewer accessories are safer, especially on sets where time is money and your producer might just kill you if you ask to have the actors re-act a scene because you didn’t realize you puny microphone cable wasn’t all they way plugged in or something else on your perpetuum mobile look alike rig came loose and screwed up a take.
Since the introduction of the revolutionary Canon5Dmk2 (and Panasonic GH2) we also agreed that we haven’t seen anything that would excite us as much as those announcements back in the days.
And then another friend of mine showed up who isn’t a professional filmmaker, but heavily involved with charity work in Africa. He shoots with a small (tiny sensor) outdated Sony handy-cam to promote his cause. A mix of documentary and narrative editorial style clips, some of them quite impressive. He doesn’t care about sensor size, mf, focus peaking, rigs, nd faders, he just needs to get his point across. He wants his videos to look and sound professional and he prefers a small unobtrusive package. Changing lenses? You can change lenses on a video camera? The last statement cost him a round of beer.
We ended up talking about the new Sony RX10 for the rest of the evening, this might just be the perfect camera for my friend, the charity worker and documentarist.
My other friends hadn’t looked at the specs very closely. When I mentioned that I really believe this camera could be very interesting for all of us (even achieve GH2 cult status), because there is no line skipping and Sony finally managed to employ a processor powerful enough to allow for full 5k readout (sadly we will only be able to record it in full HD) we all knew that this should result in much cleaner looking footage than what we are used to from our DSLR’s. It also has a built in ND filter, clean HDMI (4:2:2) out, Zebra and peaking options…… I had their attention.
Okay. Built in ND filter, though only up to three stops, with base ISO of 125 (expandable to 80-not sure if this will work in video mode) a constant aperture of 2.8 stabilized Zeiss Vario Sonnar, covering a massive range from 24mm to 200mm equiv, a 1.4M EVF and an articulated screen…everyone was seriously interested and the questions kept coming.
Mic input and head phone jack? CHECK. Manual audio controls. CHECK. The only external accessory one would need to attach would be either a Sony XLR-K1M or something like the juicedLink RM333 Riggy, to set up a seriously professional no nonsense, run&gun machine. Remember, we are aiming for the “less is more” solution here.
Then there is also the option for clean HDMI out for the ones who need incredible high bit rates.
And let’s not forget, judging by the photo quality we got from the RX100 and RX100II, this might also be a great camera for the “photos only” documentarists. Raw. Check. 10fps, now that is huge. Plenty of resolution from the 20mp backlit cmos sensor, and we already know from the RX100 and RX100II it will be descent in low light, shallow depth of field, not amazing, decent at the long end, but at the end of the day not that important, in fact lots of depth of field is often preferred by documentary shooters. The video below was shot with the RX100.
Pay attention to af performance in the clip below, shot with the RX100II, this would have been very difficult to pull off with a dslr rig and mf
Get two RX10’s one set up for Video and sound, the other for photos, a wireless lavalier kit, a good shotgun mic, tripod, portable slider and you are pretty much ready for everything. And you can pack it in a carry on backpack with your laptop and all the other stuff you need when on the road.
Last beer, back to reality, let wait and see if the RX10 really delivers, I am pretty positive it will, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Will the full sensor read out really deliver noticeably better footage, let’s keep in mind it will record in the highly compressed H.264 format. ( Not a problem for general work with the FS100/FS700). Video below, FS700
Then there is low light, will video be as impressive as taking photos at higher ISO? I am also very curious about focus peaking accuracy, since we only get a 1.4M EVF (not 2.4 like on the A7 and A7r) and about continuous af and stabilization in video mode which for many is just as important as mf control.
If everything promised holds true once we start shooting with it, then I have no doubt the RX10 will rise to rule that particular segment of the market and displace the current aging king, the GH3.
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