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Updated: 26 min 19 sec ago

Blackmagic Video Assist 4K review

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 9:15am

If you find yourself wondering 'why would I even want an external monitor/recorder' then I'd suggest you spend a few moments reading our article on the topic. The short answer is that it's a great way to expand the tools for, and maximize the quality of, video capture on your current camera.

The Video Assist 4K is the larger of Blackmagic Design's current monitor/recorders. It features a 7", 1920 x 1200 pixel display and the ability to capture up to UHD/30p video in 10-bit 4:2:2 quality. It can accept video across HDMI or 6G-SDI inputs and offers outputs for when you want to include it in a more complex setup.

It's been on the market since April 2016 so it doesn't match the spec of the latest 4K/60p capable competitors, nor can it shoot the wider-screen DCI flavor of 4K but, through a series of firmware updates, Blackmagic has been adding features to this sub-$1000 monitor/recorder.

And, since it's likely to be a while before a majority of brands offer cameras capable of 4K/60p, its age doesn't weigh too heavily against it, unless you want to shoot the more cinema-like 1.85:1 DCI aspect ratio.

The Video Assist 4K can record in a variety of popular codecs, so that the files are immediately ready for use in Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro or AVID Media Composer. All the Apple codecs and the 220 and HQX versions DNx are captured in up to 10-bit detail.

Apple codecs
  • ProRes Proxy
  • ProRes 422 LT
  • ProRes 422
  • ProRes 422 HQ

AVID codecs
(in either Quicktime or MXF wrapper)

HD Codecs
  • DNxHD 45
  • DNxHD 145
  • DNxHD 220x
4K Codecs
  • DNxHR LB
  • DNxHR SQ
  • DNxHR HQX

It's also a fairly well-connected little beast, though, which makes it easy to hook up to most cameras.

Inputs Outputs
Video
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x 6G SDI
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x 6G SDI
Audio
  • 2 x Mini XLR (balanced)
    with phantom power
  • Over HDMI
  • 3.5mm headphone socket

Batteries and storage

Unlike the Atomos recorders, which tend to use Sony L-series-style batteries and write to SSD drives, the Blackmagic uses Canon LP-E6 batteries and writes to SD cards. This use of more photographer-friendly formats has both advantages and disadvantages.

The obvious advantages are that, especially if you already shoot Canon, you may well already have the equipment you need to start shooting. No messing around with cradles to mount the SSD on your computer, you just use the same SD reader you use for stills photography.

The downside is that, until V60 and V90-rated SD cards become more common, even the most expensive U3 cards, for all their promises of transfer rates in the hundreds of MB/s, only guarantee to sustainably write at up to 30MB/s (240Mbps). If you're capturing video, it's this sustained write rate that you need to worry about and 4K can easily exceed this figure.

The Video Assist 4K uses common, Canon-style batteries and fast SD card, both of which you may already own and which are very widely available.

As a result, Blackmagic has to publish a list of SD cards it recommends for its higher frame rates and codecs. For most of the better ones, you'll need a UHS II, U3 card. Given the company's history of adding features to the Video Assist via firmware, the hope has to be that it's possible to offer proper support for V60 and V90 cards, but they wouldn't comment, when asked.

The downside of using the common LP-E6 batteries is that, although pretty powerful in comparison with other DSLR batteries, they're tiny compared to some of the huge L-series blocks you can get. Consequently, you'll need a handful of them if you're planning an extended shoot away from a power supply. I found I was getting 20-30 minutes of capture out of two fully charged batteries. The batteries can be hot-swapped while recording, in the unlikely event of you needing a single clip to last longer than that.

What's it like to use?

The first thing to get used to is how much size and weight shooting with any external recorder adds. The use of such a big screen immediately limits your ability to 'run and gun.' If you're just trying to grab some quick, on-the-move, on-the-fly footage, the Video Assist will slow you down. However, if you have the few extra moments to consider each shot, it increases the chances of you getting it right as well as increasing the quality of your footage.

if you have the few extra moments to consider each shot, it increases the chances of you getting it right

Its weight means that it's not easily mounted on your camera. There are plenty of hotshoe-to-tripod mount adapters available and, given the Video Assist's 928g (2lb) mass (with batteries), we'd recommend the use of the most sturdy ballhead-type adapter you can find. It's much happier if you have some kind of arm to attach it to your tripod or have your camera mounted in a rig, to which you can then add the Video Assist.

However, one of the benefits you gain for this weight is pretty rugged construction. The Video Assist's metal and rubber build doesn't promise any level of shockproofing, but our review unit survived an accidental fall onto pavement and has worked flawlessly since, suggesting it'll stand up to the rough-and-tumble of shooting in the real world.

Touchscreen interface

In terms of actual use, everything on the Video Assist is operated by touchscreen. It's pretty responsive, with only the slightest hint of lag and there are few enough options that you very quickly find your way around and learn it in no time at all.

The Video Assist gives you access to adjustable zebra highlight warnings as well as focus peaking, regardless of whether your camera offers these features.

However, the more you think about the way the interface works, the less sense it makes: three of the six button arrayed along the top of the main screen take you to the same menu, some options have left/right arrows with the Off option at the far left, others just have On and Off buttons, with Off on the right. The monitor and audio setup menu is accessed by pressing the 'Card' button. Even by the standard of camera menus, it feels like more and more has been added onto the system without any thought given to what a blank-sheet design would look like.

You can select what triggers recording from the main screen but toggling false color, peaking or zebras is an extra button-press away

Some of this may be down to my inexperience, of course. Perhaps more experienced users constantly need to change which input triggers recording or change codec mid shoot, but I find myself needing to toggle False Color on and off far more frequently, and I have to visit a separate menu page each time I want to do so. Revising this design would speed up operation of the Video Assist considerably.

It's also a little disappointing to see that you can only magnify the central portion of the scene: there's no way of moving the focused region around, which is awkward if your composition requires an off-center point of interest.

The Video Assist 4K can capture Log footage but apply a LUT to the image it displays. This GIF approximates the effect of applying the F-Log/F-Gamut -> WDR/BT 709 LUT available from Fujifilm.

Overall, though, the Video Assist is really easy to use, even for a novice like me. It was easy enough to upload a LUT using the desktop-based software, meaning I can shoot Log but with a comprehensible preview. Equally, once you get used to shooting with False Colors, it's awkward to live without them. Which brings us to...

Scopes

In keeping with its history of adding features via firmware, Blackmagic Designs recently released the long-promised update that brings 'scopes to the Video Assist. This is a big deal, since scopes are a very powerful way of interpreting the tonal and color distribution in the footage you're capturing.

The Vectorscope shows you how the color in your image is distributed.

The latest update brings a luminance waveform, an RGB waveform/parade (though only represented in white, so a little hard to interpret) and a vectorscope.

The implementation is not great, however. All scopes are accessed by tapping the histogram at the lower left of the panel and they all take up the whole screen. Two tiny, tiny buttons inconsistent with the rest of the interface let you control over how the waveforms and video appear. The right-hand button brings up two sliders that adjust how bright the video feed is shown in the background and how bright the waves are displayed.

Waveform Waveform overlaid Video PiP

The second acts as a toggle to show the video feed as a small picture-in-picture window, but no way of showing the scopes themselves on anything but the full width of the screen, so you may find you have to toggle them on and off, rather than leaving them open to monitor as you shoot.

Despite this slightly rough-round-the-edges implementation, the addition of scopes is a significant addition to the Video Assist, especially as they're tools that are generally lacking from the cameras we tend to review. They're also a free upgrade to any existing owners and coincide with Blackmagic Designs offering a significant temporary price cut on the device, so we're not going to be too critical of the slightly imperfect integration.

Conclusion

For many people it won't be obvious why they should go out and spend $900 on an accessory that does something their camera tries to do already: preview and capture movies. However, for a certain kind of videography, the Video Assist makes life a lot easier (and the peace of mind it brings, in terms of knowing that your footage is going to be correctly shot is immense).

With a simple L-shaped bracket, you can make a relatively hand-holdable combination with some small cameras (though you'll need to think pretty hard about stabilization).

And, despite a couple of gripes about its operation, the Video Assist 4K is still a very easy-to-use, well specified device. It means that, for less than the cost of a new camera, you can maximize the quality of the footage you're capturing from your current one while also gaining access to a host of useful tools it almost certainly hasn't got.

In addition, shooting in formats such as ProRes and DNx means your footage is in and edit-friendly format, straight out of the recorder, potentially removing a time-consuming transcoding step from your workflow.

$900 isn't a trivial amount of money but, for a great many photographers, it's an amount they'd be happy to spend on a new lens. And, like a lens, it's a purchase that will probably outlive your current camera and work happily with whatever you're shooting in a few years time. Only the lack of 4K/60p or DCI 4K capture and the uncertainty over fast SD card support casts a doubt over its future-proof-ness.

What we like:

  • Captures the best of your camera's output
  • Adds hugely useful tools to support video capture
  • Durable build

What we don't:

  • Question mark over future SD card support
  • Increasingly convoluted interface
Categories: Equipment

Fujifilm GF 110mm F2 sample gallery

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 8:30am

Fujifilm's GFX system is growing fast, and among the company's latest lenses is the GF 110mm F2 R LM WR. With a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 87mm, it's very close to the 'classic' 85mm portrait lenses offered by other manufacturers. It's weather sealed, focuses internally and quickly, and is quite large, especially with the optional hood attached.

But good gravy, this is one beautiful lens. It's capable of outstanding sharpness and buttery-smooth backgrounds at wider apertures. And though it's positioned as the GFX system's standard portrait lens, we didn't just shoot portraits with it. Check out our gallery to see what this $2800 lens can do.

See our Fujifilm GF 110mm F2
sample gallery

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Categories: Equipment

Nikon celebrates 100th anniversary with new vision and crazy music video

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 3:03pm

Today is Nikon's 100th anniversary. Founded on this day in 1917 as Nippon Kogaku K.K., the Nikon Corporation has transformed from a manufacturer of precision optical glass into one of the most iconic photographic brands in the world. Their camera legacy began in 1948 with the Nikon Model I and continues on to this day. And regardless of your opinion of Nikon today, the past 100 years are certainly worth celebrating.

The festivities has been going on all year, with videos, a dedicated website, a series of special edition products, posters paying tribute to the company's most iconic cameras and a lot more, all released this year under the "100th Anniversary" seal.

But today is THE day, and in addition to teasing the upcoming D850 DSLR Nikon has released an official statement from its president about the future of the company, posted a couple of tribute videos, and released one of the wackiest music videos you've ever seen.

Tribute Videos

The music video in question was posted to the Nikon Anniversary website, and it's an "anniversary dance movie featuring Nikon employees and a new generation Japanese rock band, Mrs. Green Apple!" Take a look for yourself:

But Nikon didn't stop there. We also found this tribute to the F-Mount:

And this charming video titled "Passage of Light", which pays tribute to the Nikon family.

The Future of Nikon

Finally, on a more serious note, the company published an official press release alongside a personal message from president Kazuo Ushida.

You can read the full press release and statement below, but the most intriguing bit is the part where Mr. Ushida lays out the company's vision for the next 100 years. "The difference from our past strategies is that we will offer not only products, but also ideas and solutions as well," says Ushida. "Nikon will be reborn as a solution company providing superior technologies and ideas, holding 'light' as our core competency."

The Nikon vision moving forward is summed up in a single phrase: unlock the future with the power of light. We'll just have to wait and see what they means in practical terms, but we can only hope the next 100 years are as innovative and groundbreaking as the last hundred.

Happy Birthday Nikon.

Nikon Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of its Founding

July 25, 2017 – Nikon Corporation (Kazuo Ushida, President, Tokyo) was established in 1917 (as Nippon Kogaku K.K.). Since then, we have been creating unique value all over the world by providing consumer and industrial optical equipment, including lithography systems and microscopes as well as cameras, based on opto-electronics and precision technologies.

Today, Nikon celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding.
We deeply express our sincere gratitude to all of our stakeholders who have faithfully supported our development that met the needs of the last 100 years.

Over these 100 years, Nikon has contributed to industries and people's quality of life with its state-of-the-art technologies during each era. We were able to successfully focus on and overcome continuous challenges because we were fully supported and trusted by our stakeholders.

In order for people to create progress toward a prosperous future over the next 100 years, Nikon will continue to contribute to the world.

President's message

Today, Nikon celebrates the 100th anniversary of its establishment. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of our customers who use our products in their everyday lives, and the stakeholders who have supported our businesses, from the bottom of my heart.

For the past 100 years, consumer demand has called for convenient products that enhance daily life, and Nikon answered with its manufacturing skill and knowledge. However, society and consumer needs are rapidly changing today. We would like to effectively respond to these needs with the world's highest-class opto-electronics, precision technologies and solutions.

The difference from our past strategies is that we will offer not only products, but also ideas and solutions as well. Nikon will be reborn as a solution company providing superior technologies and ideas, holding “light” as our core competency.

Following our corporate philosophy of “Trustworthiness and Creativity”, we hold a new vision of building the foundations of the next 100 years. We ask for your continued support as we move forward.

Celebrating our 100th anniversary of establishment today, we also introduce our new vision for the next 100 years. As well as this, we are announcing various events planned ahead including new contents in Nikon 100th anniversary site.

New vision and qualities of mind

Marking our centennial year, we announce our new vision that actively leads to our next 100 years.

Our Vision

Unlock the future with the power of light

Unleashing the limitless possibilities of light.
Striving to brighten the human experience.
Focused, with purpose, on a better future for all.
THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF NIKON

Our Qualities of Mind

Curiosity

We show our passion for progress through
a wide range of interests to cultivate fresh ideas.

Acceptance

We warmly embrace diverse ideas
and delight in differences among people and cultures.

Inspirational Power

We share our ideas with infectious enthusiasm
to effect positive change in the world.

Categories: Equipment

Phottix replaces Para-Pro lineup with new Premio Parabolic Umbrellas

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 1:19pm

Phottix has just launched its new Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, a replacement for its previous Para-Pro product lineup. The Premio series boasts an entirely new locking mechanism that is both simpler and stronger than the version found on the Para-Pro models, as well as deeper umbrellas and fiberglass spokes.

In all, there are eight versions of the Premio umbrellas you can put together: 47in / 120cm and 33in / 85cm umbrellas can be purchased in either 'shoot-through' or 'reflective' models, with reflective black backing available for the shoot-through models (2 stops of additional light) and white diffusers available for the reflective models.

All four models, plus reflective backing and diffusers, are available now at the following prices:

  • 85cm Reflective Umbrella: $45
  • 120cm Reflective Umbrella: $55
  • 85cm Shoot-through Umbrella: $40
  • 120cm Shoot-through Umbrella: $50
  • 85cm White diffuser: $15
  • 120cm White diffuser: $25
  • 85cm Black backing: $15
  • 120cm Black backing: $25
Categories: Equipment

Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition comes with dual-cam and depth mode

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 12:53pm

Motorola has unveiled its 2017 flagship smartphone, the Moto Z2. Unsurprisingly the design is quite similar to the original Moto Z and comes with electronic contacts on the back, allowing for the attachment of Motorola's Moto Mod accessory modules, such as the Hasselblad TrueZoom camera module.

At 6.1mm the device is very thin and comes with a full-metal shell that features a water-repellent nano-coating. In addition, the 2560x1440 Super AMOLED display is shatterproof, making the Z2 more rugged than most of its competitors in the premium segment of the market.

Android 7.1.1 is powered by Qualcomm's current top-end chipset Snapdragon 835 but at 2730mAh is smaller than on many other high-end phones, which is probably owed to the thinness of the device.

The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first smartphone to feature a dual-camera setup. Similar to the concept used in Huawei's recent top-end phones the Moto combines a Sony IMX 1/2.9" RGB sensor with a monochrome imager and uses image-fusion technology to optimize detail, noise levels, dynamic range and other aspects of image quality.

A depth-mode for simulating a shallow depth-of-field is on board as well and, compared to previous high-end Moto models, Motorola has significantly improved the panorama mode which can now produce much larger image output and fewer ghosting artifacts on moving subjects.

In video mode the Moto Z2 camera is capable of recording 4K footage and 720p slow-motion video at 240 fps or 1080p clips at 120 fps. The front camera offers a 5MP resolution and comes with a wide-selfie mode. A Pro mode provides manual control over shutter speed and other camera parameters and the DNG Raw format is supported with third-party camera apps.

With the dual-cam, improved panorama and slow-motion modes and new features, the Moto Z2 looks like a very promising update to the original Z2, especially in the camera department. You will be able to pre-order the Moto Z2 Force Edition from tomorrow. The device will be available from August 10 launch at a base price of $720.

Key specifications:

  • 12MP dual-cam with Sony IMX 386 1/2.9" RGB and Monochrome sensors, 1.25µm pixel size
  • F2.0 apertures
  • Dual-LED flash
  • Laser and phase detection AF
  • Depth mode
  • Manual camera controls
  • Raw-support with third-party apps
  • 4K video
  • 240fps/720p and 120fps/1080p slow-motion video
  • 5MP front camera
  • 2560x1440 Super AMOLED ShatterShield display
  • Snapdragon 835 chipset
  • 4/6GB RAM (depending on region)
  • 64/128GB of storage (depending on region)
  • microSD slot up to 2TB
  • 2730mAh battery
  • Water-repellent nano-coating
  • Fingerprint reader
Categories: Equipment

Stanford develops extra-wide 4D light field camera... for robots

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 12:51pm
The monocentric lens (fore), Lytro Illum (center), and a conventional lens with similar FOV and resolution (back). Photo courtesy of Stanford Computational Imaging Lab

Stanford University has unveiled a new 4D camera created by postdoctoral fellow Donald Dansereau and assistant professor of electrical engineering Gordon Wetzstein alongside a team from the University of California, San Diego. The camera features a near-140 degrees extra-wide field of view as well as the ability to capture 4D images, the combination of which helps robots navigate an environment autonomously.

The 4D ability is made possible via light field technology, the same tech used by Lytro for its post-capture refocusing cameras. According to Stanford, this new robotics camera uses light field technology to capture the distance and direction of light that hits the lens, the end result being a 4D image that allows robots to adjust their 'vision' as necessary to see in a variety of situations. The camera could also help systems understand how far away an object is located.

Joining the light field technology is a spherical lens offering an extra-wide field of view that covers about 30% of the space around the camera. The researchers had to develop a 'digital solution' to enable this spherical lens to work well with the camera's flat sensor, the end result being enhanced ultra-wide photos, Stanford explains.

Though the camera is still in the proof-of-concept stage, the researchers plan to refine it into a more compact offering, one that could be used in applications beyond robotics. Other potential uses for the technology include VR/AR systems, self-driving vehicles, and wearables. A technical paper on the technology, as well as images of the camera and content it created, can be found here.

Categories: Equipment

Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann says he wants a 'true Leica phone'

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 12:01pm

Last year, Leica teamed with Chinese company Huawei to co-engineer the dual-lens camera found on the back of the Huawei P9 smartphone. That may be just the start of Leica's phone dabbling, though, based on comments made by company Chairman Andreas Kaufmann in a recent interview with CNBC's 'Managing Asia.'

Kaufmann touched on the topic of Leica's Huawei partnership and future plans under it, but also revealed his personal 'dream': the creation of a full Leica smartphone.

Kaufmann talked about some of the problems with smartphones and how they relate to modern photography, saying, "Every smartphone is wrong for photography at the moment... the phone nowadays is not fit really for photography... it's used as a camera, it's used as a video camera, but it's not built that way and I think there's a long way to go still."

While Kaufmann didn't detail any specific issues he sees with modern phones as photography gear, he did say that he'd like to see Leica step up with its own smartphone to solve the problems. "I am not sure whether the company can do [this]...[but] one dream would be my personal dream: a true Leica phone," he said, leading to many a raised eyebrow among Leica lovers.

Whereas the P9 is a Huawei phone with Leica camera tech, a 'true Leica phone' would presumably be fully Leica-branded and designed specifically for the company's customer base.

Though he didn't have more to say about that dream, Kaufmann did tease CNBC with hints of Leica's future plans with Huawei, saying, "It get a bit confidential, but you could think of this: are two camera systems enough for a smartphone? And that could give you a hint into the future." Looks like the 16-camera Light L16 camera might have some competition from Leica and Huawei in the future.

To check out Kaufmann's full interview, click here.

Categories: Equipment

Behind the shot: A mother grizzly and her cub go salmon fishing

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 11:36am
A sow and her cub walk across a log on a small creek in Yukon, Canada, searching for salmon. Photo © Peter Mather

Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather had been photographing this creek in Yukon, Canada for years before he had an idea: set up a camera trap on a fallen tree. He figured grizzly bears would use the tree for salmon fishing, and thought it would be worth seeing what his remote camera could capture.

But even at his most optimistic, he didn't expect to capture a shot this good. A photo of a sow and her cub that would earn him recognition from National Geographic and a spot as one of the best wildlife images and a top spot in the Big Picture Natural World Photography Competition.

Mather tells DPReview the story behind the photo, in his own words:

For 3 years, I had been photographing salmon in this small creek that flows into the Yukon River. I was trying to get an over/under night photo of king salmon spawning under the northern lights, so I was out all night, every night in this salmon infested creek for a week.

I’d seen one grizzly in the creek. A young shy male. I figured that there weren’t many bears around, because the salmon stocks are plummeting and the area has been heavily hunted for bears. I knew of this great tree that fell on the side of the creek located 5 minutes downstream from where I was trying my salmon and northern lights photo, and I figured bears would use it to fish off, so I set up a motion detecting camera trap on it.

I left the camera for 3 days, when I returned I was ‘over the moon’ ecstatic to find this unique image of a sow and cub searching for salmon.

Scrolling through all the image, I was also a little freaked out to learn that there were 10 grizzly bears roaming the creek 5 minutes from where I spent my nights chasing the northern lights and salmon photo.

To see more of Mather's work—including that shot he was going for, the half-in half-out salmon under the Northern Lights—head over to his website or give him a follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Categories: Equipment

This video series teaches you all the Photoshop basics for free

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 10:58am

Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts, which specializes in graphic design and digital art tutorials, has published a free course titled 'The Complete Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop.' As the name suggests, this course teaches beginners all of the basics on using Photoshop, starting with the software's interface and progressing to cover topics like rasterizing, managing layers, masking, transforming and more.

The Beginner's Guide was first published in 2014, but it's just as relevant today as it was three years ago. The course features a total of 33 episodes, each ranging from a few to 20 minutes in length, and they're accompanied by this downloadable project folder. Upon completing the series, viewers will create their own book cover from scratch.

The entire series is available through this playlist. TastyTuts also offers free video courses on several other topics, including manipulating images using Photoshop (playlist) and creating 'planet' panoramas (playlist).

Categories: Equipment

Rode releases pricing and shipping date for VideoMic Pro+

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 10:10am

The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The UK price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290 (approx. $350) when it goes on sale in mid-August.

The new version of the on-camera microphone will feature interchangeable power options with a supplied rechargeable lithium ion battery that can be replaced with AA cells. A USB port also allows the mic to be powered or recharged via an external battery pack. The mic will save power by shutting itself down when not in use, and Rode has improved the battery door handling so that it doesn’t come off.

The company also says that it has improved digital noise reduction processes to reduce background interference and to enhance clarity for DSLR and mirrorless users.
The Rode VideoMic Pro+ comes with a Rycote Lyre suspension system and a ten-year warranty. For more information visit the Rode website.

Press Release

The On-Camera Microphone You've Been Waiting For is Here: Meet the VideoMic Pro+

Pro-audio brand RØDE Microphones is announcing a new addition to its best in market on-camera category - the VideoMic Pro+.

Announced at RØDEShow 2017, Freedman Electronics 50th anniversary celebration, the VideoMic Pro+ is set to prove that RØDE Microphones has yet again upped the game for the prosumer filmmaker.

Still with the best-in-class Rycote Lyre suspension system on board, the VideoMic Pro+ improves on the existing VideoMic Pro capsule/line tube and windshield, plus boasts a host of new features:

  • Automatic Power Function (subject to plug-in power availability) is perfect for the run-and-gun shooter, automatically turning the microphone off when unplugged from the camera
  • Built-in Battery Door makes replacing the battery a breeze and far less cumbersome than previous VideoMic models - plus it won't get lost.
  • Power options - the VideoMic Pro+ can be powered by the all-new and included RØDE LB-1 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery, 2 x AA Batteries or continuously via Micro USB
  • Digital Switching - will ensure the user has ultimate capture of the audio signal at the source, reducing post production and editing times. The Digital Switching includes:
    • 2-Stage High Pass Filter to reduce low frequencies such as rumble from traffic or air conditioning
    • 3-Stage Gain Control, with +20dB function – designed to improve audio quality on DSLR or mirrorless cameras
    • High Frequency Boost will boost high frequencies enhancing detail and clarity in the recording
    • Safety Channel to help ensure the signal does not clip when unexpected spikes occur

"The VideoMic Pro+ is a new benchmark in on-camera microphones," comments Damien Wilson, RØDE and Freedman Group CEO. "We have listened to our customers and are delivering the microphone they've asked for, with features such as the built-in battery door, automatic power function and included Lithium-Ion Battery."

The VideoMic Pro+ ships with a 3.5mm TRS Cable, LB-1 Lithioum-Ion Rechargeable Battery and includes RØDE's 10-year warranty and is now available at authorised RØDE dealers. For more information please visit: www.rode.com/microphones/videomicproplus

Categories: Equipment

Explorest iOS app helps photographers find new locations to shoot

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 9:33am

A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help photographers find new locations to shoot. The company behind Explorest describes the app as a database of photo locations, ones submitted by local photographers who get a cut of the in-app purchase revenue in exchange for their contributions. Users are presented with those locations, as well as related information like weather in the region, notable times to shoot and field tips about the location.

According to the app's iTunes listing, users are given exact GPS coordinates for the locations, ones precise enough to designate 'where the photographer stood' when they took their own images of the location. The app also gives users instructions on getting to the spot, tips for shooting in that particular location, the best times to visit the area, the precise times sunrise, sunset and more take place, plus the option to save this data for offline use.

Finally, Explorest keeps track of the locations you've already visited and places you want to visit, and likewise presents a Google Maps look at the areas within the app.

Explorest is limited to only locations within Singapore for now, but plans to expand to encompass other regions in the near future. You can grab the app for free until July 31, at which point it will revert to a $5 price tag. Check it out for yourself here.

Categories: Equipment

Ten things we're hoping for from the Nikon D850

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 12:00am

Ten things we're hoping for from the Nikon D850

Nikon has announced the development of a the D850 - the long-awaited successor to the D810. As we've come to expect from such announcements in the past, Nikon is being vague on exact details, but promises that the D850 will be 'a formidable tool for creators who will not compromise on exceptional image quality and versatility.'

We don't have detailed specs yet, so until more details emerge, we've made a wish list. Click through for ten features that we're hoping to see either added or improved in the forthcoming D850. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

More pixels (but not too many more)

A well-processed Raw file from the D810's 36MP sensor contains a lot of detail, but we'd expect the D850 to offer at least a modest increase in pixel count.

The D810's resolution of 36MP is more than enough for most applications, but we'd be surprised if the D850 doesn't come with a higher megapixel sensor. In general, more pixels means better images, but we hope that the increase in resolution is reasonably modest. After all, 36MP is fine, and more pixels = bigger file sizes, and more work for the camera's processor.

The same or better low ISO DR

This shot from the D810 was exposed for the highlights at ISO 64 and selectively pushed by 4EV - while retaining highlights - post-capture.

One of our favorite things about the D810 is its incredible dynamic range at its true 'base' ISO of 64. If you're a regular lurker in DPR comments threads you'll know that whether or not you need more DR is still (for some reason) a topic of hot debate. We'll save you a lot of research and just say once and for all that more dynamic range is always a good thing. More DR means greater potential for capturing a wider range of tones in a single, clean, exposure. In fact, ISO 64 on the D810 allows it to compete with medium-format image quality.

If you're still unconvinced, read this.

The D5's autofocus system

The D5's 153-point AF system is superbly versatile, and much more effective in poor light than the D810's older system.

It's a pretty safe bet that the D5's 153-point autofocus system will find its way into the D850. The D5 (and the D500, which uses the same AF array) offers truly state-of-the-art autofocus, including excellent accuracy in poor light (not a strength of the D810) and an extraordinarily capable 3D AF tracking system.

There's a common misconception that AF tracking is only really useful when shooting sports, action and wildlife, but we've come to appreciate it for portraiture, too. Especially for kids and babies, who don't always stand as still as photographers would like.

4K video

The D500 and D5 offer 4K video capture, with some restrictions - we're hoping that the D850 improves on their video specification.

The D850 will probably offer some flavor of 4K video capture. If it does end up with a 42MP sensor like the one on the Sony a7R II, we'd love to see D850 provide the same kind of video resolution options as that camera, with full-frame 4K plus an option for higher-quality oversampled 4K with a Super 35 crop.

Even if the D850 doesn't ship with a7R II-style 4K feature suite, we'd at least hope for the addition of more sophisticated highlight warnings, plus focus peaking, which is a glaring omission from the D500 and D5.

XQD support

CompactFlash has been around a long time, but XQD cards are the future. The D500 offers one XQD slot and one SD slot - we'd expect the D850 to provide the same configuration.

It's had a good run, and honestly it's hung around for a lot longer than we thought it would, but the venerable CompactFlash memory format has had its day. The XQD media used in the D500 and D5 is smaller, mechanically simpler, and much, much faster.

Since Nikon is pitching the D850 as having 'high-speed capabilities,' we'd expect that the D850 will at least offer a single XQD slot, probably with an SD slot as backup/overflow (like the D500).

An articulated, touch-sensitive LCD

The D500's rear screen is touch-sensitive and semi-articulating. We're hoping to see the same screen on the D850.

We'd expect the D850's rear screen to at least offer the 2.36M-dot resolution and limited touch-sensitivity features of the D5, but we're really hoping that it's articulated, too. While potentially less robust than fixed displays, tilting screens are much more useful, especially for landscapes, and indeed any tripod-mounted shooting from low or high angles.

Proper electronic first-curtain shutter implementation

This is what shutter shock looks like. We're hoping the D850 offers a more effective electronic first curtain shutter feature.

The D810 improved on the D800-series by offering electronic first-curtain shutter (EFCS) to reduce the risk of shutter shock, but in our opinion, it didn't go far enough.

With the D850, we'd love to see Nikon implement this feature properly, which means decoupling it from the mirror lock-up drive mode. Essentially it could operate much like the existing exposure delay mode, but with a much shorter delay. When the shutter button is pressed, the shutter and mirror would lock up, and the exposure would be started electronically a fraction of a second later.

We've found even a quarter of a second (or less) to be long enough to allow mirror vibrations to die out. A proper EFCS implementation would go a long way to avoiding mirror and shutter-related shake, especially some of the odd results we saw with some Nikon VR lenses.

Built-in Wi-Fi (and improved SnapBridge)

Snapbridge has improved since we first encountered it in the D500, but it's still not great. We'd expect some degree of built-in connectivity but are hoping Nikon has made a fair few steps forward.

The D810 arrived before built-in Wi-Fi was widespread in Nikon's lineup and we'd expect the D850 to offer built-in connectivity of some kind, as opposed to being limited to using external Wi-Fi modules. Nikon's beginner-focused 'SnapBridge' system provides full-time Bluetooth connection but it offers limited access to, or control over, Wi-Fi. As such, it would seem like an odd fit for a camera that promises both high speed and high resolution capture (but hey - Nikon put it into the D500, so who knows?)

If present, we'd expect the D850 to feature Nikon's full 'SnapBridge' suite, which includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC. We can only hope that the company continues its efforts to improve the system.

Improved Auto AF Fine Tune

Auto AF Fine Tune is a great feature, but there's room for improvement. We're hoping that Nikon has refined it in the D850.

The D5 and D500 offer automated AF point calibration, but it's not as useful – or as easy to use – as we'd like. Since higher resolution bodies require even greater AF precision, we'd love for Nikon to do some work on this feature in the D850. Specifically, we'd like to see the Auto AF Fine Tune extended to all AF points, not just the center point, and we'd like to be able to calibrate for different subject distances, and for ends of a zoom lens's range. We'd also like calibration to be made more consistent.

In theory, if Auto AF Fine Tune could be improved along these lines, the D850 owner would be able to all-but guarantee accurate autofocus on each of his/her lenses, in any shooting condition.

Smaller body, illuminated controls

If you've ever shot at night, or early in the morning, you'll appreciate the value of backlit controls. Will the D850 inherit this feature from the D5 and D500? We hope so.

The D810 is a pretty beefy camera, and not the most comfortable DSLR to hold and use for extended periods of time. We're really hoping that the Nikon D850 gets slimmed-down a little, in the same way as we've seen with the D750 and D7500.

Another feature that we'd like to see included in the D850 is backlit controls. The ability to illuminate key control points in the D5 and D500 is extremely useful for low light and night shooting.

Categories: Equipment

Nikon announces development of D850

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 12:00am

Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its high resolution, full-frame D810: the D850.

The company didn't release any actual details about the D850, though a teaser video promises an 8K time-lapse function. Nikon says that it will be a 'formidable tool for creators who will not compromise on exceptional image quality and versatility' and that it will incorporate 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements that are a direct result of feedback from users.'

Nikon promises more information about the D850 at a later date. When that time comes, be sure to visit DPReview for all the details!

Ten things we're hoping to
see in the new D850

Press Release:

DEVELOPMENT OF DIGITAL SLR CAMERA NIKON D850

MELVILLE, NY (July 25, 2017 at 12:01 A.M. EDT) –- Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce the development of the next generation full-frame, high-resolution, high-speed digital SLR cameras with the upcoming release of the highly anticipated Nikon D850. This announcement coincides with Nikon’s 100th anniversary of its establishment, which is celebrated today.

The D850 will be a formidable tool for creators who will not compromise on exceptional image quality and versatility, including both aspiring and professional photographers as well as hobbyists who capture landscapes, weddings, sports, fashion, commercial imagery and multimedia content creators.

The D850 is the successor to the D810, which has been highly praised by its users for offering extremely sharp and clear rendering, with rich tone characteristics. This powerful new FX-format digital SLR camera is engineered with a range of new technologies, features and performance enhancements that are a direct result of feedback from users, who demand the very best from their camera equipment. The D850 will exceed the expectations of the vast range of photographers that seek the high resolution and high-speed capabilities that only a Nikon of this caliber complemented by NIKKOR lenses can offer.

To learn more about the Nikon D850, please visit nikonusa.com/d850. Information regarding the release of this product will be announced at a later date.

Categories: Equipment

Voigtlander says the new 65mm F2 E-Mount macro is one of its finest lenses ever

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 3:59pm

Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has just introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says, "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer." The Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm F2 Aspherical is designed to cover full frame sensors, and allegedly boasts exceptional correction of chromatic aberration.

While the lens is manual focus, it has electrical contacts so exposure information can be recorded in the camera’s EXIF data, and distance measurements can be used to assist in-camera image stabilization systems. The contacts also allow focus peaking to be activated.

Macro enthusiasts will be able to focus down to 31cm to achieve a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2, while a ten-bladed iris should provide at least attractively rounded out-of-focus highlights. The lens weighs 625g/1.4lbs, measures 91.3mmx78mm/3.6x3in and takes a 67mm filter.

The Voigtlander Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm f/2 Aspherical will go on sale from the 1st of August and will cost £750/€1,000/$1,060.

For more information visit the Voigtlander website.

Press Release

MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical

Announcing the release of the Voigtländer MACRO APO- LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, a Sony E-mount macro lens for full frame sensors incorporating an apochromatic optical design and inscribed with the designation “APO-LANTHAR”

We announce the release of the Voigtländer MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, a Sony E-mount macro lens for full frame sensors. The APO-LANTHAR designation is given to especially high performance lenses in the Voigtländer lens lineup. The legendary APO-LANTHAR lens that continues to enthrall photographers with its outstanding imaging performace and beautiful rendering was born in 1954, but its origins can be traced back around 120 years (see additional info about the APO-LANTHAR below).

A need for apochromatic optical designs that reduce the longitudinal chromatic aberrations of the three primary colors (RGB) of light to practically zero arose with the increasing popularity of color film. Now, with the current range of high- resolution digitals sensors, this need for extremely high-level control of chromatic aberrations is even more pertinent than when film changed from monochrome to color. So rather than just being for already solved old technologies, apochromatic optical designs are indeed a subject requiring serious consideration in the digital age.

The Voigtländer MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, which inherits the designation “APO- LANTHAR”, is a high performance manual focus macro lens optimized for the imaging sensors of Sony mirrorless cameras. The optical performance of this lens, which provides an image circle capable of covering a full frame sensor, rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer. Sharp imaging performance is obtained from maximum aperture where you can enjoy blurring the background, and by utilizing a floating mechanism this lens delivers outstanding image quality for subjects from the minimum focusing distance of 31cm (reproduction ratio of 1:2) through to infinity. This lens is a manual focus and manual aperture design, but also features electrical contacts that enable the lens settings at image capture to be included in the Exif information of the image data. Furthermore, the lens is installed with a distance encoder to enable support for 5-axis image stabilization on bodies with this feature, for example by providing distance to subject information used in X,Y shift compensation. Focus peaking while manual focusing is also supported.

Main features

  • Full frame Sony E-mount with electrical contacts
  • Apochromatic optical design that eliminates chromatic aberrations
  • Enhanced high performance utilizing aspherical lens surfaces
  • Optical design optimized for digital imaging sensors
  • Extremely solid and durable all-metal barrel
  • Manual focus for precise focusing
  • Maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2 at a minimum focus distance of 31 cm

Additional info about the APO-LANTHAR

The history of the APO-LANTHAR begins with the HELIAR invented by Hans Harting in 1900. Despite its simple optical configuration of five elements in three groups, the HELIAR was a lens with superb depictive performance. As an example of the HELIAR optical formula still being valid in the present day, it is used in the currently available HELIAR Vintage Line 50mm F3.5, a lens known for its superb depictive performance. Furthermore, a HELIAR is recorded as being the lens used to take imperial portraits of Emperor Showa, and it is said the HELIAR lens was extremely highly regarded for its beautiful depictive performance and even treated as a family treasure by portrait photography businesses during the Showa period.

Moving forward about half a century from the birth of the HELIAR to 1954, Albrecht Wilhelm Tronnier developed a lens using the same five-elements-three-groups configuration as the HELIAR utilizing new glass types to achieve performance that exceeded the HELIAR. That lens was the APO-LANTHAR. The APO in APO- LANTHAR indicates an apochromatic optical design. The main characteristic of such a lens is that longitudinal chromatic aberrations caused by the different wavelengths (frequencies) of the three primary colors (RGB) of light are reduced to practically zero to achieve high-level color reproduction. Color film slowly gained popularity after its release in 1935, and one reason why the APO-LANTHAR was developed was to address a growing need to capture light more faithfully than possible with monochrome film.

The first camera to be fitted with an APO-LANTHAR lens was the 6 x 9 roll film rangefinder camera representative of post-war Voigtlander, the Bessa II. There were three different lens variations of this camera: APO-LANTHAR 4.5/100, COLOR-HELIAR 3.5/105, and COLOR-SKOPAR 3.5/105. The APO-LANTHAR 4.5/100 variation has red, green, and blue (RGB) rings indicating the apochromatic optical design engraved around the front of the lens barrel to differentiate it from the other versions as a special lens. Due to the rarity and high performance of the Bessa II fitted with APO-LANTHAR lens, this camera has become a legendary camera traded on the used market at high prices and the envy of camera collectors.

As homage to the RGB colors that differentiate the APO-LANTHAR from other lenses beginning with the BESSA II, the MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical also features three colored dashes indicating the RGB colors at the front edge of the lens barrel.

Categories: Equipment

UK government will require drone users to register and take safety tests

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 3:50pm

The UK has announced new upcoming regulations that will require some drone owners to register their aircraft and to complete safety awareness tests related to drone operation.

The requirements will be implemented for all drones weighing a minimum of 250g / 8.8oz and registration will be possible both online and via apps, though the UK government says it is still exploring potential plans. The tests, meanwhile, will require drone operators to demonstrate knowledge of the UK's various regulations related to drone usage, privacy, and safety.

The new requirements were detailed over the weekend by the UK government, which explained in a statement that these new measures will "improve accountability and encourage owners to act responsibly." A recent safety research study is cited as one of the reasons for the planned regulations. In the study, various UK authorities found that drones weighing as little as 400g / 14oz can damage the windshields on helicopters.

Many details about the UK's drone registration plans are still missing, including how much such registrations may cost, how long the registration is good for, the extent of identifying details the drone operator must provide, and more. The UK's statement indicates that it is still developing its plans and hasn't yet established these finer details.

The new regulations will follow the drone code established by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority in 2016. That drone code establishes operational rules for drone owners, including requiring that the drone stay within sight of the operator, that it stay below 120m / 400ft, avoid all things related to airports and aircraft, and maintain acceptable distances from property and people.

Categories: Equipment

Learning to 'see' light, tips from a National Geographic photographer

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 1:38pm

National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes takes stunning photos all over the world. But when you ask him how he captures these images, he won't tell you about his favorite lens or any specific technique he uses. He'll talk to you about what he sees. He'll talk to you about light.

That was the subject of a recent conversation he had with Marc Silber of Advancing Your Photography: light. "Most people 'look' and don't really 'see.' You've got to learn to see," says Holmes. "We all look, everybody looks, but you've got to go beyond that and analyze what you've seen... to start with anyway."

Once you acquire this ability to 'see,' explains Holmes, photography becomes about reacting to and capturing what's in front of you—the camera is no longer 'in the way.'

The duo goes on to talk about learning about light from iconic painters, and why it's important to find work that speaks to you and try to unpack why exactly the lighting, composition, subject etc. evokes a certain emotion. The whole conversation, about 10 minutes long, is well worth your time and packed full of little gems. Check it out up top and let us know what you think in the comments.

Categories: Equipment

This Nat Geo cover was shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 12:41pm
European astronaut Paolo Nespoli sitting in a Soyuz launch module simulator, illuminated by a single iPhone flashlight. Photo © Alessandro Barteletti.

Photographer Alessandro Barteletti has spent the last year creating a photo essay for National Geographic, in which he tells the story of 60-year-old European astronaut Paolo Nespoli. The project has taken him all over the world with Paolo, but it's the photo above that stuck with him, and that Nat Geo in fact picked for the cover of the July issue of National Geographic Italia.

For this project, Barteletti received access to the training centers in Europe, the US, and Russia, trailing Paolo and capturing photos honoring the astronaut as the first 60-year-old ever to be enrolled in a 6-month-long mission.

Behind the scenes with Barteletti, shooting Paolo Nespoli for National Geographic. Photo © Alessandro Vona

The memorable cover photo was captured in Star City, Russia, while Paolo sat inside the Soyuz launch module simulator.

"I came into the Soyuz with my Nikon D3 and a wide angle lens, ready to shoot Paolo when, suddenly, something unbelievable happened: all lights off, everything was dark and from the outside they started knocking on the door telling me I had only one minute left," Barteletti tells DPReview. "I didn’t know what to do: that was the perfect setting for THE PHOTO, probably one of the best ones ever. Outside I had some led lights but if I had come out the module, they wouldn’t have let me come in once again."

Paolo agreed that leaving the module wasn't an option, and so they tried to come up with some way to capture the shot in the next 60 seconds... with no professional lighting anywhere in sight.

"I had an idea, one of those crazy ideas that only come to you when you are desperate," says Barteletti. "I took my iPhone—the only electronic device I had with me—I turned on the torch, and I put it between two panels behind the astronaut."

As it turns out, his idea worked perfectly. "The module was so small, less than 2 meters of diameter, that the torch was enough to properly light the setting," he told us. "I had only the time for two landscape shots and two portrait ones, just a few seconds before I was literally obliged to leave the module."

In the end, Barteletti was right: it was THE PHOTO. National Geographic chose this shot for the cover. Barteletti still can't quite believe they chose a photo "shot with a ten-year-old Nikon D3 and lit with an iPhone torch."

To learn more about Alessandro or see more of his work, visit his website by clicking here.

Categories: Equipment

Video: Professional fashion model hits 30 poses in just 15 seconds

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 11:44am

If you're a fashion model working with Taobao, an Chinese online retailer a la Amazon, your photographer expects some next-level posing from you. In this video posted by the Facebook page Shanghai Expat, we get to see what this looks like in real life: 30 poses hit in just 15 seconds of shooting.

Rapid-fire posing is nothing new, but it's still hard to believe that each one of these split-second poses turns into a different look option for a catalog. Over the course of a day's shooting, these models will reportedly pose up to 150 outfits, taking just one minute to change outfits and a 10-minute lunch break.

At that pace, we're not entirely sure how the photographer is keeping up. Have you ever had the opportunity to work with a model at this skill level? What was it like? Tell us in the comments.

Categories: Equipment

Godox teases the A1: An off-camera flash and 2.4GHz trigger for smartphones

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 11:02am

Chinese flash brand Godox teased an interesting new product on its Facebook page this weekend. It's called the A1, and it's a 'phone flash system' that works both as off-camera flash and as a 2.4GHz flash trigger.

Unfortunately, Godox didn't reveal too many details about the new trigger, teasing it alongside just a few lines of marginally-readable text. "I can only tell you that the product A1 has three built-in LED lamps and one hernia flash, support flash, away from the machine automatically," reads the Facebook post. "You can control Godox flash which has 2.4G system through it!"

Below the text are a few photos: the product shot you see at the top of this post, and the three sample photos below that show the A1 in action as trigger, flash, and continuous light source:

No word yet on how much the Godox A1 will cost, or when it will officially arrive, but we'll let you know as soon as we hear anything. Our question for you is: will you actually use this when it does ship? If you're going to go to the trouble of breaking out a speedlight, wouldn't you also grab your ILC?

Let us know in the comments.

Categories: Equipment

Behind the scenes at Canon's new Burbank Technology and Support Center

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 10:00am

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

A few days ago, Canon officially opened its newest Professional Technology and Support Center in Burbank, California, and DPReview was part of a select group of media invited to tour the facility prior to the grand opening.

'Canon Burbank' is primarily focused on meeting the needs of filmmakers and the Hollywood film production industry, and includes post-production facilities that could be used to produce a blockbuster film. However, as I discovered during my visit, Canon wants this space to attract more than just the filmmaking elite.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

According to Elliot Peck, Canon Imaging and Technologies' Executive Vice President, the project to build this new center started about a year ago when Canon realized that it was effectively out of space at its old Hollywood location. Canon designed a completely new facility from the ground up and took the opportunity to move to Burbank, at the heart of the filmmaking industry.

Although it's officially called a 'Technology Support and Service Center,' the description I kept hearing from many staff was 'Integration Center.' Canon recognizes that it's still relatively new to the cinema market, and almost every part of this facility is designed to show how seamlessly Canon products can integrate into an existing production workflow.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

While there's a natural focus on Hollywood, Tim Smith, Canon's Senior Advisor for Film and TV Production, told me that he wants all types of content creators to utilize this facility, particularly people like emerging filmmakers, some of whom may even be using equipment like DSLRs, and who aren't on Hollywood's radar yet.

"That was us six years ago," he said, drawing a parallel to Canon's own rise in the motion picture business. "In a sense, we've spent the last several years figuring out how to go from DSLRs to cinema. This facility is the culmination of all of that work."

Smith says he wants people early in their careers, who have the desire but not the established name, to come to the facility to network and learn. Canon plans to do seminars and classes for filmmakers at all levels, including topics such as writing or lighting that don't have a direct relationship to Canon products. Best of all, most of these classes will be free.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

The new service facility has double the space of Canon's former Hollywood location, as well as an improved workflow for processing repairs. Canon's goal is to achieve a one-day turnaround time for customers.

While the service center will see a lot of motion picture products given its location, it provides full support for all Canon camera products, including Cinema EOS, EOS DSLRs, EF and EF-S lenses, and EOS cinema lenses. In addition to repairs, the center has loan equipment available for CPS members.

(If you happen to live in Southern California, the center is open for walk-in visits from 9-5 Monday-Friday.)

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

Part of the service facility is the lens room, where technicians can test and verify lens performance after repair. The room might be better described as a very wide hallway, stretching about 65 ft. (20m) in length. The extra distance allows technicians to mount lenses up to 600mm on a master body to check for optical alignment and resolution, meaning that all but a couple very specialized Canon lenses can be tested here.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

The broadcast TV projection room is designed to test 4K cinema lenses, which need to deliver sharp performance from corner to corner at every aperture and focal length. Appropriately, the design of this room is all about precision.

Although you can't see it in the dark, the testing hardware is mounted on a rail system that is precisely aligned to the projection wall. In fact, Canon told us that its engineers, along with the construction firm, spent over a week just building the projection wall to ensure that it was perfectly vertical and without imperfections.

Targets projected through a lens allow technicians to celebrate for sharpness, color, flare, and uneven focus. The target in this photo is a generic pattern to demonstrate the equipment; Canon assures us that it has proprietary targets that are used when calibrating lenses.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

At first glance, what Canon refers to as the 'workflow area' appears to be a standard editing suite, but the main purpose of this room is to to help filmmakers figure out how to integrate Canon cameras and lenses into their production workflows.

Canon acknowledges that filmmakers can be a finicky group of people who like to do things their own way. That poses a challenge for a company that's still somewhat new to the cinema market. Canon created the workflow area so that filmmakers could test their full post-production workflow, using their tools of choice, while introducing Canon cameras and lenses into the mix.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

Whatever a filmmaker's post-production workflow looks like, chances are pretty good they can replicate it here. The facility supports all major editing suites (Avid, DaVinci, Adobe, and Apple), and even includes both Mac and Windows systems so visitors can work on whatever system is most comfortable for them.

There are also three reference displays for use while editing and grading: a 30-inch Canon DP-V3010 4K reference display and a 24-inch Canon DP-V2420 1000NIT HDR reference display (both of which cost around $30K), and also a 'consumer confidence' display that's representative of what would be found in a nice home theater. This gives a colorist a rough idea of what the image will look like on a consumer device.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

The prep room is a facility where cameras can be mounted and fully rigged for production, making it possible to design and test a setup before taking it into the field. Both podiums are wired into the rest of the building so that camera output can be instantly analyzed somewhere else, like the workflow area or the 4K screening room.

Canon wants cinematographers and 1st ACs (1st assistant camera operators) to come in and experiment with their Canon equipment, configure it the way they would for a production, to see how it performs and verify that it meets their needs. Additionally, Canon plans to use this space for other purposes, such as education. For example, it could offer classes for new ACs on how to rig a camera for a shoot.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

Going one step further, Canon invites filmmakers to bring in its competitors' cameras to set up side-by-side with its own cameras for comparative testing. According to Smith, "We want to go head to head, with whoever we need to go up against, to convince filmmakers that we have the right product for their project."

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

The 4K screening room is just what it sounds like. At its heart is a Barco DP4K-P 4K projector, the same projector used by post production facilities such as technicolor. Canon wants filmmakers to have confidence that any work they do in the facility will be up to Hollywood standards.

There are a few seats up front, but most of the action takes place in back where there's a full edit suite, including 7.1 surround sound and a 2000NIT display for doing HDR grades.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

In my conversation with Tim Smith, he expressed a strong desire for Canon Burbank to be much more than just a technology and service center. He wants it to be a location where people in the filmmaking community, from DSLR shooters to Hollywood pros, can come together to meet and network.

"In this industry you have to network to find a job," he says. "Even if you're the best in the world, you need to network. The more circles you build, the better. One of our visions for this facility is for a cinematographer to use our space to pitch a film to a producer, who then decides to move forward with the project."

Photo courtesy of Canon

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

It's clear that Canon wants its Burbank facility to be a resource for everyone from beginners to Hollywood pros, and I sensed a genuine desire to engage with and support the filmmaking community.

For all its history, Canon is still the new kid on the block in the cinema business, but the company is confident in its products and isn't afraid to go head to head with the established players. However, to paraphrase Tim Smith, Canon needs to build circles and create its own networks within this community to be successful long term. Canon Burbank certainly seems to be a step in that direction.

Categories: Equipment

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