2014 News & Upcoming Events

SXSW_Solorio_SlateWith the roll-out of 2014, we’ve been extremely busy on several production and post-production fronts. Marco Solorio (owner of OneRiver Media) has been extremely fortunate to be one of only few people in the world to be on the beta testing team for Blackmagic Design (since the development of the original Cinema Camera in mid-2012) and as such, has had the new Production 4K camera since December of 2013.

But aside from testing cameras, OneRiver Media has been extremely busy with both production and post-production on various projects for various clients, including OneRiver Media’s own content.

We’re also still fervently working on a lot of new exciting resources that will help users better understand how their cameras work; prior to production, during production and for post-production. Stay tuned on that news—lots of exciting things in store.

Next, we’re knee-deep in client-based projects and fulfilling deadlines for those projects. Being so busy is a good problem to have and as such, we have to make sure we maintain a balance between client work and our own work. So far, so good.

Since December of 2012, we’ve been in an active on-going production of our BMW documentary film, Ten Tenths, slated to release this year. We actually have several more production days left to complete for the film and we’re really excited how things are progressing.

lacpugMarco Solorio recently spoke at LACPUG in Hollywood on the comparisons between the Production 4K camera and the original Cinema Camera (along with footage from Ten Tenths). A lot of useful details were shared at this event and if you missed it, you can see most of the same information at the next event Marco will be presenting at:

sxswSXSW — Austin, Texas
Marco Solorio will be presenting at SXSW during Bob Caniglia’s presentation (of Blackmagic Design) this Saturday March 8th at 12:30 PM at the Austin Convention Center (details below). Marco will be showing real-world footage examples he’s shot using the 4K Production camera, which includes samples from OneRiver Media’s BMW documentary film, Ten Tenths.

Now, time for a little back up…

Back in the middle of 2013, we were actively promoting Marco Solorio’s pitch to present at SXSW as one of the potential headlining speakers. We were AMAZED at how much positive public response we got from this campaign. In fact, it’s clear that Marco’s presentation pitch was one of the absolute highest rated and received ideas for SXSW. But unfortunately, the general public’s vote only accounted for 30% of final voting (the remaining 70% by SXSW themselves).  So first and foremost, a HUGE thank you to all of you that took the time to vote and enjoyed our run of funny SXSW promotional photos. We are truly appreciative for everyone’s efforts.

But all is not lost! Blackmagic Design asked if Marco would present during Blackmagic’s presentation slot during SXSW, so Marco will still be at SXSW presenting. Maybe not the same extended topic or time allotment, but still great stuff to share nonetheless.

sfcuttersSF Cutters — San Francisco, California
Marco Solorio will be presenting at the next SF Cutters event on March 20th and will be bringing the Production 4K camera as well as (upon request) the Pocket Cinema Camera. Lots of insightful comparison footage between the 4K camera and the original Cinema Camera will be presented. Marco will include footage samples from OneRiver Media’s BMW documentary film, Ten Tenths. You must register for this event if you want to attend.

nabNational Association of Broadcasters — Las Vegas Nevada
Marco Solorio will also be presenting at NAB again this year, which includes Post|Production World 2014 as part of the official NAB workshops and events. Marco will have the Production 4K camera on-hand and will show in-depth comparison footage and charts between the 4K camera and the original Cinema Camera, which will include footage from OneRiver Media’s BMW documentary film, Ten Tenths.

Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media shooting in-studio footage for their BMW documentary film, Ten Tenths.

Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media shooting in-studio footage of the Performance Technic M3 race car for their BMW documentary film, Ten Tenths.

 

COMPLETE SXSW DETAILS
Below is more info about our presence at SXSW. Hope to see you there!

SXSW Presentation by Bob Caniglia of Blackmagic Design with guest speaker Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media
Day/Time: Saturday, March 8th from 12:30 – 1:30pm
Location: Austin Convention Center, 500 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701
Room 13AB

Marco Solorio will discuss and show 4K footage from OneRiver Media’s BMW documentary film, Ten Tenths and will have his rigged-out Production 4K camera on-hand to see in person. A Q&A session will follow the presentation.

SXSW Happy Hour
Day/Time: Saturday, March 8th from 5:00 – 7:00pm.
Location: Stephen F’s Bar and Terrace – InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, 701 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

OneRiver Media will be present with their rigged-out Production 4K camera on-hand to see in person with Q&A encouraged.

Come & Capture Film Factory Demo Pavilion
Day/Time: Sunday, March 9th through Wednesday the 12th
Show hours: Sunday, March 9th through Tuesday the 11th from 11:00am – 6:00pm and Wednesday, March 12th from 11:00am – 4:00pm
Location: Austin Convention Center, 500 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701
Blackmagic Design booth #104

OneRiver Media will be present with their rigged-out Production 4K camera on-hand to see in person with Q&A encouraged.

Documentary Shooting with an ENG Cinema Camera

BMCC_ENG_Marco_Solorio_Blog_Photo

In this exclusive article by Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media, he breaks the confines of what many perceived as an impossible task: shooting the Blackmagic Cinema Camera in an ENG configuration for documentary film production. As we quickly see, not only is the Cinema Camera more than capable of acting as an ENG camera, it does so with image quality that blows the doors off any traditional ENG camera. The results are so powerful in fact, that shooting any other style will be hard to go back to.

 

Take naysayers with a grain of salt
I remember reading long ago that the Blackmagic Cinema Camera would never be able to shoot super wide due to its crop factor. I happily showed that not only could you shoot wide with it, but that you could shoot as wide, or wider, than that of a Canon 5D Mk III.

I remember reading the Cinema Camera would never be able to shoot with narrow depth-of-field (DOF). Again, this notion was proven inaccurate with my real-world testing.

I remember reading the Cinema Camera would never be able to shoot in low light. Although not a low-light photon sucker, I again proved this notion inaccurate, thanks to the help of 12-bit RAW and proper exposing techniques.

Sony_HDW_F900R

The Sony HDW-F900R ENG camera was modified and used to shoot Star Wars Attack of the Clones, despite its small 2/3″ sensor and resistance of many in the production chain.

 

The thing that I commonly found interesting is that all the things people said the Cinema Camera “couldn’t do”, were from the same people that never really had a chance to actually shoot with the Cinema Camera in the first place, or in very limited fashion at most. These early speculations of the camera’s “deficiencies” were nothing more than assumptions without any controlled testing or extended use.

With that said, it came to no surprise when I read that the Cinema Camera will never be able to shoot in true ENG (Electronic News Gathering) style. Again, my initial feeling was that this was stemming from a small crowd of people that either don’t own a Cinema Camera, or did not put forth the effort to see how closely their Cinema Camera could in fact shoot in ENG style with proper rigging.

Is the Cinema Camera an ENG camera in of itself? No, of course not.

Can the Cinema Camera be configured to work like an ENG camera? Hell yeah it can!

Marco Solorio shooting footage for his BMW documentary film at Miller Motorsports Park, Utah. This rig is an early build of the ENG BMCC rig.

Marco Solorio shooting footage for his BMW documentary film at Miller Motorsports Park, Utah.
This rig is an early build of the ENG BMCC MFT rig, which has since been slightly modified for even more ergonomic functionality.

 

 

The foundation of ENG shooting
So let’s back up a little bit. Why is ENG shooting even important anyway?

For anyone that has shot with true ENG cameras, they will quickly tell you the sheer flexibility these cameras employ. When shooting true documentary style, where taking the time to swap lenses is not an option, an ENG camera is truly the only way to go, whether it’s a full-size ENG camera, like the tried and true Panasonic HDX-900, or a much more affordable alternative like the Sony EX1 or EX3 in smaller form factor.

At the heart of any true, full-size ENG camera is a form-factor that molds the camera body to your shoulder, the lens in your hands, the electronic viewfinder (EVF) on your eye. In essence, you become one with the camera.

The ENG lens (typically in B4 mount), is a stable extension of the ENG camera body, and allows the shooter to quickly (or slowly) zoom extremely wide and extremely long with an electronically controlled rocker, for highly accurate, and incredibly smooth zooms. So what kind of zoom throw do these ENG lenses have? If you’re only familiar with photographic still lenses, prepare for your sox to be blown off.

It’s not uncommon for most ENG lenses to start at the 15x zoom ratio at a minimum, but typically start at 11x, 15x, 17x, 20x, and even 22x (or as much as 42x for a paltry $80k). What does that exactly mean? If you have a 20x zoom that starts at 8mm natively, then you’ll have a zoom range of 8mm to 160mm. When finally mounted to the Cinema Camera, and the mathematical conversion is equated to relative full-frame sensor size, that’s an equivalent of about 16-320mm. Yup, this is the part where your sox get blown off. Oh but wait, this is only the beginning. Your pants may possibly get blown off too.

This quality Fujinon 17×7.6 HD lens is one of the ENG lenses we tested. Like photography lenses, there are a wide array of ENG lenses to choose from; wider zooms to longer zooms, short ranges to long ranges, low quality to high quality. The used ENG HD lens market fetches prices anywhere from $3k to $15k, depending on type and quality.

 

ENG lenses are fully manual at the heart of their build. Likewise, the focus ring, zoom ring, and aperture ring are all externally geared for added controllability (note that they’re a finer “mod” at  .4, .5, and .6, as opposed to .8 found in cinema lenses). And because we’re talking video lenses here, the aperture ring is smooth from end-to-end (non-clicked steps, unlike still photo lenses). And typically speaking with ENG lenses, the iris is also constant aperture throughout the zoom range. Inherently, these ENG lenses commonly open up at f/1.7 or f/1.8 (but when mounted to larger sensors, the result is about twice the stoppage… more about that in a minute).

Another major benefit to ENG lenses is their parfocal optical elements. Watch any ENG shooter work, and you’ll quickly notice they zoom all the way into their subject (where DOF becomes narrow and focusing more accurate), focus on the subject, and then zoom out to their desired composition. When the image is initially focused at their longest zoom range, any other zoom range selected will also stay in focus. The vast majority of still photography zoom lenses cannot do this, and require your focusing assessment to be made at the exact zoom length you’re currently at. If your zoom changes mid-shot, chances are your focus will be off if you don’t have a focus puller, or are paying attention to the focus yourself as the shooter. Once you start using parfocal lenses, it’s incredibly annoying to go back to anything else that doesn’t employ this focusing method.

To acheive the same 16-300mm zoom range as the ENG lenses tested, I have to use three of our Canon L lenses (16-35 f/2.8L II, 24-105 f/4L, 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L). Note that each of these lenses are non-parfocal, so focus needs to be re-adjusted at each zoom range.

 

The more that I use manual lenses (even non-ENG lenses, and cinema primes) with the Cinema Camera, the more I dislike using electronic aperture photographic still lenses with the Cinema Camera. It’s not a fault of the camera itself, but manual lenses just offer such a greater array of controllability, flexibility, smoothness, speed, and almost a direct organic connection with the optics. Sounds crazy, I know, but you’ll quickly realize what I mean once you only use manual lenses for a long time, then switch back to electronic lenses. In the same vein, even low-cost Rokinon/Samyang fully manual cine prime lenses are such a treat to work with (on any video camera that can use them). I started using manual lenses thirty years ago with 35mm film cameras, and then again for video in the 1990’s, but as DSLR shooting became quick and easy, I slowly moved over to electronic lenses, almost forgetting how much I love using fully manual lenses. It’s very nice to work again with manual lenses more frequently these days.

Marco Solorio shooting footage for his BMW documentary film at Laguna Seca Raceway with the Cinema Camera MFT. Although barely hidden, his two left index fingers control the electronic rocker on the ENG lens to precisely and smoothly control the zoom rate, while his pinky lightly adjusts focus.

 

ENG lenses too good to be true?
With full manual control, geared focus/zoom/aperture rings, smooth aperture, perceivably fast and constant apertures, electronic zoom rocker, greater hand manipulation than other types of lenses… what’s the catch?

Indeed, there are some catches. The first and foremost is that these HD ENG lenses use a B4 mount. The mount itself is proven and strong, but these B4 mount lenses are built with 2/3” sensors in mind. The trick is using an ENG lens with a 2X telephoto extender built into it. It’s this 2X extender that allows the small native image circle to expand out, which results in covering the Cinema Camera’s sensor. If you don’t use the 2X extender, the resulting image will vignette like crazy, and will be completely useless. So if you decide to buy an ENG lens for your Cinema Camera, do not, under any circumstance, buy one without a 2X extender! This includes using it on a Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera with its 16mm sensor… it’s still much larger than the 2/3″ sensor size origins of these ENG lenses.

The next catch is the quality of the glass in the ENG lens itself. I highly suggest against using SD ENG lenses with the Cinema Camera, and stick only with HD ENG lenses. After in-depth analysis and testing with the Cinema Camera, I’ve found SD ENG lenses just do not have the resolving power on the Cinema Camera as their HD counterparts do. In many cases, there’s noticeable edge smearing in real world footage, not just test charts. Start with a clean image, and smear the edges in post if you want that hipster look an SD lens would alternatively provide!

Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L still photo lens at about 350mm on the BMCC (no grade added). With much lower optical power than an ENG lens, this lens is inherently cleaner and sharper. Note that this lens is also more neutral in color, where the ENG lenses are warmer.

Fujinon 17×7.6 HD lens zoomed all the way in at about 300mm FF equivalence on the BMCC (no grade added). Although a little softer and some noticeable chromatic aberration than the Canon counterpart, the image is still acceptable for the purpose it provides.

Fujinon 20×8 SD lens zoomed all the way in at about 330mm FF equivalence on the BMCC (no grade added). With a visually noticeable amount of edge smearing and extended chromatic aberration, SD ENG lenses just don’t have the resolving power that their HD counterparts have.

I’m always curious how well any particular lens can perform on a resolution test chart. In some cases when a lens doesn’t bode well on charts, it may still be acceptable in many real-world shooting environments. But using an SD ENG lens, coupled with its 2X extender seems to go beyond that point of acceptability and suffers in both charts and real-world examples.

Time to get serious! Drilling holes into the Tilta shoulder mount plate so I can bolt it solidly to the Viewfactor cage. I originally posted this on our Instagram feed.

With HD ENG lenses, I’m getting very good results, even on test charts. I admit, the sharpness and resolving power is not as good as my Canon L zoom lenses, but my Canon L zooms don’t have anywhere near the zoom power and mechanical flexibility that ENG lenses so greatly provide… not by a long shot! Sorry for the pun.

Like many things in life, there’s a compromise; you have to decide for yourself if what you’re shooting requires speed and flexibility that ENG lenses provide, or if high quality photo lenses (or cinema lenses) give you the results you need. Use the tool that fits the job.

If you’re going for the highest quality, most cinematic look for your image, then ENG lenses probably aren’t best for you. But if you’re shooting documentary style, or in some cases, corporate or industrial videos, then HD ENG lenses could be your best friend. Personally, I do not use ENG lenses for any of our cinema style productions or commercial work. For documentary or some corporate work, ENG lenses are perfect.

Marco Solorio shooting footage for his BMW documentary film at Laguna Seca Raceway. With things happening on a split-second basis, there is absolutely NO time for lens swapping or critical shots WILL be lost forever. This is where ENG lenses are paramount in this type of documentary filmmaking.

Marco Solorio shooting footage for his BMW documentary film at Laguna Seca Raceway with the Cinema Camera MFT. With things happening on a split-second basis, there is absolutely NO time for lens swapping or critical shots WILL be lost forever. This is where ENG lenses are paramount in this type of documentary filmmaking.

 

ENG lenses in real world use
Every month since December of 2012, we’ve been in production on a BMW documentary film, and will complete production in January of 2014. The vast majority of cameras used for our documentary have been the Cinema Camera EF and MFT models. The Cinema Camera MFT model in particular is exceptionally flexible in regards to lens mounting. It costs less and provides a cleaner/sharper image using the Cinema Camera MFT model with an MTF Services B4 to MFT adapter, than it is to use a Cinema Camera EF model with a B4 to EF adapter. The latter example uses optics within the adapter to fit the image circle in the EF mount. ENG lenses already use a lot of glass, coupled with the 2X extender, so adding another layer of optics only adds to image degradation. This is not to say it looks bad, but if you have the choice, go with the MFT route. Again, it costs much less, and produces a cleaner image.

Side note: the Blackmagic Production 4K camera is EF mount and would require the latter said B4 to EF adapter. Optical quality in this configuration is not known at this time, but resolving power to the camera’s 4K resolution from all this layered HD glass may not be very high. Only an educated guess for now, as I do not have said optical B4 to EF adapter to test with.

In some of my recent presentations in Los Angeles, I previewed some samples from my BMW documentary film and how my ENG footage intercuts with other footage using high quality photo and cine optics. By in large, nobody in the viewing audience can discern which lens was used between the shots. And in reality, isn’t this truly what it boils down to? Overall, I’ve been extremely pleased with the optical results using HD ENG lenses on our Cinema Cameras for our documentary work. I’m so sold on it in fact, that I refuse to use any photographic zoom lenses when we need powerful zoom flexibility when shooting documentary format with no time for lens swapping.

The #46 Performance Technic BMW M3 race car putting laps in at Laguna Seca Raceway in the US Touring Car Championship series. This shot is pulled from our Cinema Camera ProRes HQ footage using the Fujinon 7.6x17 ENG HD lens.

The #46 Performance Technic BMW M3 race car putting laps in at Laguna Seca Raceway (here at the famous Corkscrew) in the US Touring Car Championship series. This shot for our BMW documentary film is pulled from our Cinema Camera (MFT) ProRes HQ footage using the Fujinon 17×7.6 ENG HD lens.

 

Having had the original Cinema Camera EF for about a year now (since before its public release), I’ve had the opportunity to use the camera in countless situations; jibs, dollies, cranes, sliders, glidecams, various interior/exterior car mounts, and of course, handheld and shoulder mount. The latter has been a little tricky to develop, but with a little ingenuity, a few components, and a drill, I have what I feel is a very capable ENG style rig for the Cinema Camera.

Using this rig I built for shooting our BMW documentary film is incredibly functional. I’m able to combine the powerful image quality the Cinema Camera delivers (12-bit RAW, ProRes HQ, and DNxHD), along with the flexibility an ENG camera provides.

In a nutshell, this is what my “ENG Cinema Camera” is capable of:

  • More than twice the imager size of a 2/3” ENG sensor
  • Option to shoot in 12-bit RAW, ProRes HQ, or DNxHD
  • Ability to use any B4 2X ENG lenses with their inherent advantages:
    • Extremely powerful zoom ratios, as much as 22X (and even as much as 48x if you have $80k+ laying around)
    • Electronic rocker zooms with fast/slow responses
    • Geared focus, zoom, and aperture rings
    • Aperture is smooth without incremental clicked steps
    • Parfocal optics allow for locked focus throughout zoom range
    • Solid handling with both hands on lens
    • Built in macro function
    • Ability to back-focus the lens to the camera
    • Front element is always stationary and will not hit filters in mattebox
  • XLR I/O audio with 48/24-volt phantom power, EQ, dynamic limiters, long meters, physical gain adjustments, live/playback monitoring, digital output.
  • Option of either LCD panel or EVF (Electronic View Finder) monitoring.
  • Adjustable V-mount battery plate with ability to mount two V-mount batteries together, two D-tap outputs, and five regulated LEMO power taps (14, 12, 12, 8.5, and 5 volts).
  • V-mount battery provides me at least 3 hours of continuous use, and in some cases, up to a full day of use, depending on the amount of gear plugged into it and each of their rated draw.
  • Quick-release V-lock plate with integrated shoulder brace.

All of these key features are what really make this rig work as a usable ENG camera replacement, but with the advantage of much higher image quality, dynamic range, and longer footage runs (each of my SanDisk Extreme 480 GB SSDs provide about four hours of ProRes HQ and one hour of 12-bit RAW).

The OneRiver Media ENG Cinema Camera consists of these key elements. The entire rear section can pivot and slide to gain access to the touchscreen menu. The Movcam battery plate is available in both V-mount and Anton Bauer gold mount.

The OneRiver Media ENG Cinema Camera consists of these key elements. The entire rear section can pivot and slide to gain access to the touchscreen menu. The Movcam battery plate is available in both V-mount and Anton Bauer gold mount.

 

Most ENG cameras run at 8-bit, with a small handful having the ability of 10-bit, but working in either format results in extremely compressed footage; temporally, spatially, and within sub-sampled chrominance reduction. Dynamic range is also limited in these cameras. Add to the fact that ENG camera sensors range in size between 1/3” and 2/3” (smaller than even 16mm film) and you quickly realize their image quality limitations.

 

Shooting with our ENG Cinema Camera vs. a traditional ENG camera

PROS

Higher Quality: Far superior BMCC image quality to that of any true ENG camera. 12-bit RAW and 10-bit ProRes HQ/DNxHD at 13 stops DR versus extremely compressed 8- or 10-bit images through a smaller 2/3” sensor and limited DR.

Lower Cost: Even fully rigged, overall cost is still less than a high quality ENG camera using inferior image quality.

Faster and Easier to Use: ProRes HQ and DNxHD allow for immediate desktop previewing and/or editing without proprietary mystery folders and a bunch of extra files that don’t make much sense.

Modularity: Disassembled from its ENG rigging, a Cinema Camera is very compact in tight shooting spaces or when blending in with a crowd.

CONS

Multiple Components: Rather than a unibody ENG camera with integrated components, the Cinema Camera method requires individual external components. One plus though is you can buy the exact components you need within your budget.

Fabrication: With no current ENG mounting hardware on the market specifically for the Cinema Camera, you might need to perform some slight modifications to exiting solutions. For my rig shown, I only needed to drill two extra holes in the shoulder mount plate.

Ergonomics: A true ENG camera may still feel more form fitting than the Cinema Camera solution to some. But take note, my rig shown in this article weighs the same as an ENG camera, shoulder mounts the same as an ENG camera, and is balanced the same as an ENG camera.

Marco Solorio presenting to a full crowd (standing room only!) on his experiences using his ENG rig on the Cinema Camera. Shown here is some sample footage to show how insane some of the ENG zoom ranges can go on the BMCC.

Marco Solorio recently presenting to a full crowd (standing room only!) on his experiences using his Cinema Camera ENG rig at the recent Blackmagic Design Expo Day in Los Angeles. Shown here is some sample footage to show how insane some of the ENG zoom ranges can go on the BMCC. Next stop: New York City, August 8th.

 

Conclusion
So in the end, you have a lot of options when shooting ENG style. My biggest tip is going with an HD ENG lens over an SD one. The low prices of SD ENG lenses are incredibly tempting, but you’ll squash all of the inherent beautiful detail the Cinema Camera offers. HD ENG lenses aren’t cheap, even in the used market (figure about $5000 for a high quality used HD ENG lens), so it’s an investment you’ll need to ensure you’re ready to embark on. Alternatively, renting HD ENG lenses is typically very cheap, so this may be a very good option for many shooters.

To complete your ENG Cinema Camera rig, you’ll want to invest in some type of shoulder mount V-lock plate (Tilta or Shape are good solutions), a battery solution (V-mount or Anton Bauer), an audio input device with phantom power (and preferable metering), a B4 to MFT adapter to mount your ENG lens to (I use MTF Services), and an EVF or LCD panel solution. Acquiring these key elements will get you in the right direction for building your own ENG style rig.

When shown from each angle, the Cinema Camera ENG rig is quite smaller than first expected. In fact, it's smaller than a traditional full size ENG camera rig. The BMCC solution weighs about the same, and balances and feels the same.

When shown from each angle, the Cinema Camera ENG rig is quite smaller than first expected. In fact, it’s smaller than a traditional full size ENG camera rig. The BMCC solution weighs about the same, and balances and feels the same.

 

More ENG Cinema Camera Rigging
I’m currently in the middle of a highly extensive eBook that goes beyond the scope of what this blog post covers, and in far greater detail, including various footage examples showing the comparisons between SD, HD, and still photography lenses.  I also dig deep into various rigging options, and the individual components I use (and why I use them compared to others) to accomplish each rigging style that I’ve amassed over the year I’ve used the Cinema Camera in real-world productions. Stay tuned and make sure you connect to my social network feeds so you get the first word of when this eBook will be available!

Twitter: @OneRiverMedia
Facebook: facebook.com/onerivermedia

Please sign up for our BMCC newsletter to ensure you get the first word of when this and our other Cinema Camera related materials are available from us:

BMCC Newletter: onerviermedia.com/bmcc

Thanks, and happy ENG shooting!

 

A very special thanks goes to my friend Dave Dunham of ICV Digital in Pleasanton, CA for their loaning of various ENG lenses for our testing, which not only helped us, but also ultimately helps you. These guys have incredible flypack packages and a host of ENG cameras. They also have a fantastic 3-wall cyc stage if you need to shoot in a spacious studio setup. Check them out!

 

To help support the time, effort, and cost of this and all our other blog posts we share freely with the public, please purchase the products mentioned or pictured in this article through these links. They cost you no additional money, and help offset our expenses. Thank you!


Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera MFT 2.5k Video Camera
Buy from Amazon!Buy from B&H Photo!

MTF Services B4 2/3″ to Micro 4/3 Adapter
Buy from B&H Photo!

ikan (Tilta) 15mm Quick-Release Shoulder V-lock Baseplate
Buy from Amazon!Buy from B&H Photo!

ikan (Tilta) 15mm Follow Focus with Hard Stops and three gear pitches
Buy from Amazon!Buy from B&H Photo!

ikan (Tilta) 15mm Shoulder V-lock Baseplate and Follow Focus KIT
Buy from Amazon!


Letus35 MCS Rotatable Rosette Top Handle
Buy from B&H Photo!

Alphatron Electronic View Finder Bracket
Buy from B&H Photo!

SHAPE Rod Bloc EVF Mount
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Movcam Battery Bracket and Converter for V-Mount Batteries
Buy from B&H Photo!

Movcam Battery Bracket and Converter for Gold-Mount Batteries
Buy from B&H Photo!


Movcam 4-Pin LEMO to DC Cable. Note: I build my own for much lower cost.
Buy from B&H Photo!

Movcam 3-Pin Lemo 5V to DC Monitor Power Cable. Note: I build my own for much lower cost.
Buy from Amazon!Buy from B&H Photo!

Movcam 3-Pin Lemo 7.2 V to DC Cable. Note: I build my own for much lower cost.
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Movcam 3-Pin Lemo 12 V to 4-Pin XLR Cable. Note: I build my own for much cheaper.
Buy from Amazon!Buy from B&H Photo!

2.1mm 12v DC to 12 Pin Hirose Cable. Fits Canon, Fujinon ENG.
Buy from Amazon!


Laird Telemedia Cinema Camera Audio Cable 3-foot. Note: I have the 2-foot version.
Buy from B&H Photo!

Sound Devices Hirose 4-pin Power Connector (DIY cable)
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Sound Devices MixPre-D Compact Field Mixer
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SanDisk Extreme II SSD 480 GB SATA 6.0
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Sony VCT-U14 Quick-Release V-lock Tripod Adapter
Buy from Amazon!Buy from B&H Photo!


Alphatron HD-SDI Electronic Viewfinder EVF-035W-3G
Buy from Amazon!Buy from B&H Photo!

Alphatron HD-SDI EVF-035W-3G + mount + eye-cushion KIT
Buy from B&H Photo!

Cineroid HD-SDI EVF4MSS Metal Display
Buy from B&H Photo!

Cineroid HD-SDI EVF4RVW with Retina Display
Buy from B&H Photo!

MTF Services MFT Mount 15mm Support
Buy from B&H Photo!


Fujinon ZA12x4.5BERD ENG HD Lens
4.5mm-54mm
Buy from B&H Photo!

Fujinon XA17x7.6BERM ENG HD Lens
7.6mm-129mm
Buy from B&H Photo!

Fujinon HA18x7.6BERM ENG HD Lens
7.6mm-137mm
Buy from B&H Photo!

Fujinon HA19x7.4BERM ENG HD Lens
7.4mm-141mm
Buy from B&H Photo!

Fujinon HA23x7.6BERM ENG HD Lens
7.6mm-175mm
Buy from B&H Photo!

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Off to NAB and TWO Cinema Cameras!

NABshow_logo

Join Marco Solorio this Saturday at NAB Post Production World for a 90-minute presentation on the Cinema Camera EF and MFT models. New content that hasn’t been released will be presented!

 

We officially got the green light today that we can publicly speak about us having the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera MFT (Micro Four Thirds) model. We’ve actually had this camera, but due to our NDA with Blackmagic, we were bound to not say anything until they said so. This was tough, especially when others were posting about it!

Cinema_Camera_MFT_EF

OneRiver Media’s EF and MFT models of the Cinema Camera. Get the scoop on both this Saturday at NAB!

Okay, we’re not going to actually physically bring both the EF model and the MFT model to NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) with us, but we ARE going to bring the MFT model. Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media is presenting BOTH models at NAB Post Production World this Saturday, April 6, 2013 for a full 90-minute presentation.

So what will be covered at this NAB presentation by Marco? Quite a lot actually, including some brand new stuff that Marco has NOT shared publicly yet with the MFT model. This includes testing a number of vintage lenses and adapters that work perfectly on the MFT model. Items include Canon FD lenses, Canon EF lenses (on MFT), Nikon F lenses, 2X anamorphic adapters, and 16×9 adapters for 2.35 anamorphic, wide angle adapters, and much, much more.

We've run our collection of lenses through the paces; see some of Marco's findings at the NAB presentation this Saturday.

We’ve run our collection of lenses through the paces; see some of Marco’s findings at the NAB presentation this Saturday.

You may have watched Marco’s two-part comparison videos on Vimeo, “Comparing the Cinema Camera & Canon 5D Mk III“, and “The Impact of 12-bit RAW” which have taken a lot of notice in the industry. Marco will interactively show how some of these finding work with the CinemaDNG RAW files the Cinema Camera can produce.

What's this rig all about? Find out this Saturday at NAB!

What’s this rig all about? Find out this Saturday at NAB!

Marco will also show some samples of his latest film in early production, “NEXUS The Critical Phase” and a new BMW documentary, which is also in early production. This footage will ONLY be showed during this NAB presentation.

Frame grab from our BMW documentary currently in production. Watch sample footage this Saturday at NAB!

Frame grab from our BMW documentary currently in production. Watch sample footage this Saturday at NAB!

During the NAB exhibition days, Marco will be pounding the pavement (padded carpet?) with the MFT BMCC, visiting various booths, and showcasing BMCC related products and recording it on the Cinema Camera as it happens. Please visit this page often as we will post new booth visits as we lock them in! You can come see the MFT BMCC in action, or even be part of the action!

Monday, April 8
Flanders Scientific — Time TBD
Viewfactor — Time TBD
Cinebags — Time TBD

Tuesday, April 9
Flanders Scientific — Time TBD
Zeiss — Time TBD

Wednesday, April 10
Flanders Scientific — Time TBD
Sachtler — Time TBD

Thursday, April 11
Will be roaming the floors, but may not schedule official visits on this day.

See you at NAB, and be sure to check back this page for updates to scheduled booth visits!  And follow us on Twitter where we’ll updates our events as well with #BMCC and #NABSHOW in our tweets. And don’t forget about our BMCC Newsletter. See you at NAB!

2-Day Cinema Camera Workshop in Atlanta

We’re Atlanta bound! Join us next week as we travel to Atlanta, Georgia for a 2-day Cinema Camera workshop, presented by Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media at the facility of Biscardi Creative Media. Seats are still available for both days and can be purchased here at eventbrite.

March 29-30, 2013. 9:15 AM to 5:00 PM, both days.

Marco_Solorio_BMCC_2Day_Workshop

So what’s in store for this workshop? A TON. Here are all the details.

This workshop will teach you the ins and outs of the Cinema Camera, give you an edge over your competition, quickly learn the camera’s full potential, get inside knowledge not available anywhere else, shorten your workflow learning curve, and improve your business’ bottom line through knowledge and action. Marco has been using the camera in all forms of production since mid-2012: short film (our current film in production www.nexus-film.com), documentary (our current BMW documentary in production), commercial, corporate, PSA, stock footage acquisition, event production, visual effects, instructional, chromakey, and best of all, just for fun! Marco will be sharing his breadth of Cinema Camera knowledge in this information-packed workshop.

The first day is geared for shooters of all backgrounds. We’ll have three live shooting setups to show how the camera works in different environments.

The second day is geared toward anyone in post-production that will soon have a flurry of this footage to deal with. Sign up for both days to save money to get a full circle of Cinema Camera production and post-production knowledge.

We’re keeping this limited to a very small group of attendees, so this 2-day event only holds 24 seats per day — act soon to ensure your spot! All registered participants will also gain access to Marco’s private Cinema Camera Facebook page that is not publicly linked or viewable. Lunch will also be provided on both days.

Thanks to our Sponsors, attendees will have huge give-away opportunities: A full license of Davinci Resolve, an UltraStudio Mini Monitor, an UltraStudio Mini Recorder an FSI LM-2140W Monitor, and ALL attendees will be given a $200 off gift certificate that can be used on any FSI monitor purchase! 

 

DAY 1 – Cinema Camera for DPs

9:15 am – 10:00 am Coffee Talk
10:00 am – 1:00 pm Workshop
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Lunch (provided)
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm Workshop

  • Cinema Camera background and overview
  • Rigging the Cinema Camera, large and small
  • Lenses
  • Audio (dual system and internal)
  • SSD, media transfers, and archiving
  • Calibration and monitoring
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly
  • Shooting for RAW vs. ProRes
  • Low-key, high-key, and chromakey shooting (live shooting in studio)
  • Working with Thunderbolt, Ultrascope, and Media Express
  • How shooting with the Cinema Camera can edge out your competition
  • Educating your clients on the benefits and hurdles of shooting RAW vs. ProRes
  • And as much more as we can cover time permitting.

 

DAY 2 – Cinema Camera for Editors and Post

9:15 am – 10:00 am Coffee Talk
10:00 am – 1:00 pm Workshop
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Lunch (provided)
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm WorkshopCinema Camera background and overview

  • Transferring, managing, using, and archiving footage
  • RAW: Pros, cons, technical
  • ProRes HQ and DNxHD: Pros, cons, technical
  • Various RAW supported software overview (you’ll be surprised)
  • Interactively highlighting advantages of key RAW supported software
  • Various workflows for both RAW and ProRes
  • Using Cinema Camera footage for VFX and chromakey
  • RAW is now in the hands of everyone; are you ready for it?
  • System overhead demands and optimization
  • Educating your clients on the benefits and hurdles of editing RAW vs. ProRes
  • And as much more as we can cover, time permitting.

Registration info on Eventbrite here.

Looking forward to meeting new people and sharing experiences with everyone. See you soon!

Presenting at Hollywood Post Alliance

Just a quick post to update our presentation at the Hollywood Post Alliance, here in Palm Springs, California.

I had a GREAT time presenting at this year’s Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat in sunny Palm Springs this week! Not knowing what to expect, I was treated by a very large crowd of industry experts, most of which are in the feature film circles in Hollywood and beyond. A little bit of irony… here in this photo I am speaking to the audience about DaVinci Resolve and RAW workflow, only later to accidentally run into Dr. Henry Gu, the guy who basically invented DaVinci Resolve and who holds many patents on all sorts of color-correction technologies that were developed for Resolve. What a treat it was to speak with him one-on-one. Who’s teaching who?!?! Oh the circle of knowledge! Very fun event!

A lot was covered in my presentation, including RAW acquisition (the different cameras supporting RAW formats), the flurry of RAW footage that will soon flood editors in post-production and what to do about it, the advantages of RAW, an interactive example of RAW footage and the latitude you can achieve with it, some of the hurdles of RAW and what to do about it, tips on transferring RAW footage, an overview of various RAW-supported applications, an inside look at DaVinci Resolve and its inherent benefits specifically to RAW, an overview of various RAW workflows at the post-production phase, and how to best choose a RAW workflow for your needs.

A lot was covered and there was a good session of Q&A after the presentation.

Special thanks to Paul Chapman of Fotokem for moderating, and to Mark Schubin and Eileen Kramer of the Hollywood Post Alliance for organizing and inviting me to present at their event.

OneRiver Media featured in POST Magazine

As big fans of POST Magazine, we were excited to have been recently interviewed by Randi Altman of POST. Also interviewed in the article are Industrial Light & Magic, Colorflow, and Posthouse Pictures, and covers how Social Media is used by businesses in post-production. You can read the article in the latest February print issue of POST, or on their website.

And since this article is related to social media, you can find us here at these social media hotspots:

Facebook: facebook.com/onerivermedia
Twitter: twitter.com/OneRiverMedia
Instagram: instagram/onerivermedia
Blog: onerivermedia.com/blog
Vimeo: vimeo.com/onerivermedia
Flickr: flickr.com/onerivermedia
Pinterest: pinterest.com/onerivermedia
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/onerivermedia

Share with us how YOU use social media with your production or post-production business. Leave a comment below; we’d love to hear from you!

 

Cinema Camera Webinar: Moviola

This Thurday, November 29th, 2012 from 11:30 AM PST to 1:00 PM PST, Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media will be presenting a LIVE Cinema Camera webinar, with host, Michael Horton from LACPUG over at Moviola. An entire hour is being devoted for this presentation, ranging from production to post-production, specifically for use with the Cinema Camera. After the hour-long presentation, Q&A will be opened up to all attendees.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Blackmagic Design has given me a FREE LICENSE of DaVinci Resolve with USB dongle to give away at the webinar! That’s $1000 worth of software for free! But you have to register and watch to win!

Please go to the Moviola website for more details and registration.

Grant Petty’s Message to Marco Solorio

A message from Grant Petty, Founder and CEO of Blackmagic Design to Marco Solorio, Owner of OneRiver Media:

I was really amazed with Marco’s camera tests of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. With this camera, we had dozens of engineers who spent many hours and long nights working hard to get amazing film like images from a camera that everyone could afford.

However, what that means is thousands of hours working with electronics, machined metals, color science and software code, all in the hope that it’s going to produce the images you only dreamed it could. Marco’s test was significant because it showed what the Blackmagic Cinema Camera could do from a creative point of view, and in the end, that’s what matters.

I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the technical issues, with many camera purists being critical. However, I think that’s misunderstanding what the Blackmagic Cinema Camera was designed to be. It was designed to be a camera that had the technology to give a cinematic film look, while including recording to allow all that quality to be captured, in file formats editing software use at an overall price people could actually afford.

Marco has shown what kinds of images you can get, and I think in the end that’s what that matters the most. It’s very exciting. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I was really surprised watching Marco’s comparison video. We learned a lot from it as well!

 

 

Wow, well isn’t that nice! Thank you so much, Grant. This truly made my day!  I know you guys are intensely trying to get the camera out to the masses, so I truly appreciate your time in writing this. I know that once the camera gets out to all those waiting hands, those people will be as excited and happy with the camera as I have been all this time. As I’ve said before, I’m incredibly grateful that you guys trusted me with the camera before its release, and am happy you and your team found value in my shooting and testing of the camera. In the end, it helped me, Blackmagic Design, and those that will be getting their cameras with updates that I helped have a hand in; everyone wins!

Cheers to you and your team, thank you again, as I’m deeply appreciative.

Okay, I’m off to go shoot some more fun stuff with the Cinema Camera!

Cheers!

Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine vs. Canon 35mm f/1.4L

Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media compares the new Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine prime lens ($550 street) against his tried and true Canon 35mm f/1.4L still photo lens ($1550 street) on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. There’s no question that the Canon L lens has a long history of producing incredibly sharp and clean results on DSLR still photos. But how does each lens compare to each other when used on the Cinema Camera where only the sweet spot of the lens is actually used?

Let me first say that I purchased the Rokinon 35mm lens more out of necessity. Unfortunately at this time (Cinema Camera version 1.1), not all Canon lenses work with the EF model. I have quite a large collection of Canon L lenses and all but two work with the Cinema Camera, which includes the 85mm f/1.2L (probably Canon’s sharpest lens they’ve ever made) and the 35mm f/1.4L. Because the 85mm focuses electronically (I’ve always hated that feature, even on my Canon DSLRs), it requires a protocol that BMD hasn’t figured out yet (I’m assuming Canon isn’t going to just hand that kind of information out). So with the 85mm, there’s no focus, and no aperture control at this time. With the 35mm, no aperture control at this time (but focus works fine).

So here was my conundrum; in my Canon L prime lens collection, I had a hole between my 24mm f/1.4L II and my 50mm f/1.2L. Then Rokinon (also under the name of Samyang) finally released their cinema style 35mm lens.  But I’ll be honest, I haven’t been overly impressed with their 8mm cine fisheye lens, except for the fact that it’s de-clicked and has lens/aperture gears. Wide open (T4), the 8mm is quite soft, and sharpens up around the T5.6 area. To add, it imposes some barrel distortion. With all that said, my 8mm super wide lens of choice has been the Sigma 8-16mm zoom that I blogged about a couple months ago.

Despite my lackluster love for Rokinon’s 8mm lens, I decided to buy the Rokinon 35mm cine lens and give it a shot. At $550, it’s not a bad price, and the fact that it’s de-clicked and includes built-in gears for both focus and aperture is huge. The manual, geared, and de-clicked aperture ring is a particularly huge benefit because (A) at current 1.1 firmware, the Cinema Camera does not display a Canon lens’ aperture value, which is a bit of guesswork if you need a specific stop to dial in, (B) being de-clicked is just so, so much better to use with video as it allows you to truly dial in the aperture you need outside of 1/3rd bumps, and (C), changing the aperture on the Cinema Camera itself is a little slow since you have to continually tap the < or > buttons to go from one end of the aperture to the other.

Despite not being overjoyed with the Rokinon 8mm version (only because I really like the Sigma alternative better), my hope was that because this 35mm lens isn’t an extreme lens like the 8mm, coupled with the fact that the Cinema Camera uses the sweet spot of the lens, my hope was that this 35mm lens would perform well against the Canon.

At first feel, I have to say the Rokinon feels quite plasticy. You can immediately tell the difference in build-quality compared to the Canon L counterpart. Additionally, I’m going to assume that the Rokinon doesn’t have weather sealing like the Canon L does. If you work a lot in rainy, misty, wet, or extremely humid environments, then this should be considered.

Which lens is which? We posed this question on Twitter and Facebook, and the results were split right down the middle. The answer? The Rokinon is on the left. The fact that it’s so hard to tell which is which is a huge plus in favor of the Rokinon. 800 ASA, T1.5/f1.4, graded.

If you’re like me, all my lenses have quality UV filters at the end of them to protect the lens’ final glass stage. I prefer the German made B+W UV Haze MRC F-Pro and XS-Pro filters to ensure the optics are not compromised in any way. The Rokinon uses a 77mm barrel thread, whereas the Canon uses a 72mm thread. The Rokinon’s thread is completely comprised of plastic. This is worrisome; if you’re not careful, you could easily strip the threads, so make sure you put your UV filter on and never take it off, which is standard practice anyway. And if you use threaded filters, like a variable ND, then always mount it to the outside of the UV filter. Otherwise, repeated mounting of filters directly to the lens’ plastic thread is surely going to strip it.

Because the Rokinon (left) has a slightly longer reach in focal length, the bokeh circles appear larger, but in reality, both lenses produce the same sized bokeh at the same focal lengths. I closed the aperture down a bit so that you could see the octagonal blade formation in the bokeh of both lenses, which basically look the same. Ultimately though, the Rokinon bokeh and flaring is a little cleaner than the Canon. 1600 ASA, T4/f4.

The standard 32-pitch gears (also measured as .8) that are built into the focus ring and the aperture ring are a pure delight. No more fussing with stupid gear mounts. Your follow focus of choice meshes directly to it. And if you have a wireless system like us, you can control the aperture from afar as well since it’s also geared. Very nice.

Both the focus ring and aperture ring are fully manual, operate smoothly, and are lock-to-lock. One thing that I’ve always hated about Canon lenses (and this includes the 35mm), is that focus isn’t lock-to-lock, so once you pull focus beyond the nearest or farthest point, the damn focus ring just keeps spinning (even if added resistance let’s you know of such). This makes repeatable and accurate point-to-point rack focus pulls almost impossible, even if your follow focus has settable hard stops on it. With the Rokinon, I can use a quality follow focus to its full potential, just like a real cinema lens offers.

Markings on the side of the lens make for a very happy focus puller.

And let’s not forget the de-clicked aperture. This is huge. Any real cinema lens, or ENG/EFP video lens does NOT have 1/3rd increment stops on the aperture or iris. It’s completely linearly smooth from its fully open position to its fully closed position. This allows you to exactly dial in the aperture value you want, rather than the lens partially deciding it for you. And because it’s fully manual, you can very quickly open and close the aperture without cumbersome camera button sluggishness. Likewise, this can also allow you to perform a variable point-to-point exposure ramp in your shot if you want to get fancy. Even if you never do it, at least you have the option if you ever wanted to. As such, it’s otherwise impossible to perform that trick on any Canon EF or EFS lens.

The lens body itself of the Rokinon is a little longer than the Canon. Both are roughly the same diameter. Another bonus of the Rokinon acting like a cinema lens is that the markings are on the side of the lens (for the focus puller), rather than on top of the lens. The markings themselves are small, but usable (much easier to read than on the Canon lens). Focal distance is in both meters and feet.

Testing detail and sharpness between both lenses. At T5.6 (Rokinon left), and f/5.6 (Canon right), the Rokinon is slightly brighter, but keep in mind this is because T-stops and F-stops are slightly different forms of light transmission measurement. Also note that this is a powerful example of dynamic range, as the yellow bushes in the foreground would have completely blown out on any other non-RAW camera. 200 ASA, T5.6/f5.6, graded.

Okay, enough about build quality and features, let’s talk optics. Keep in mind that I’m not performing any over-the-top scientific tests here; except for one chart test, everything is real world shooting (I can only look at charts for so long before I go nuts). Off the top, the Rokinon is actually slightly longer in focal length than the Canon. Compared to the Canon at 35mm, the Rokinon is around a 36mm or 37mm length. I wasn’t expecting this, but I should have known as I’ve had variations in 8mm widths on multiple lenses as well.

Generally speaking, the Canon is slightly sharper than the Rokinon. But interestingly enough, being sharper might not necessarily be a benefit. Say what? Yeah, keep reading.

Another detail shot between both lenses. As usual, the Rokinon (left) has a warmer cast to it. If needed, this could easily be dialed out (or increased for that matter) in post. Otherwise, both lenses perform incredibly similar to each other in this shot. 200 ASA, T5.6/f5.6.

In real world shooting, I’m not finding the Canon to be noticeably sharper than the Rokinon from a standpoint of the obvious. In other words, when comparing two images of the same shot, I’m not saying to myself, “wow, look how incredibly sharper the image looks compared to the Rokinon.” To the contrary, the Rokinon holds up very well against the Canon on the Cinema Camera in that regard, especially in the T5.6 range.

Fully wide open (Rokinon = T1.5, Canon = f/1.4), the Rokinon is a little softer than the Canon. Stopping down the Rokinon and Canon to even just T2.8 and f/2.8 respectively, or T5.6 and f/5.6, the sharpness between the two is quite similar.

Both lenses are fully wide open to get a feel for narrow DOF (depth-of-field). Like before, the Rokinon (left) appears to have larger bokeh and narrower DOF, but it’s really just because of the slight increase in focal reach in that lens. 800 ASA, T1.5/f1.4.
Same test, slightly stopped down. Rokinon, left. 800 ASA, T2/f2.
Same test again, stopped down more. Rokinon, left. Note that these three DOF tests only had exposure changes in the aperture, i.e., increased exposure to compensate for the aperture reduction in exposure was done in post, hence, these last two images are slightly noisier due to raising the noise floor. 800 ASA, T2.8/f2.8.

Now here’s the funny thing. Remember when I said the added sharpness in the Canon might not necessarily be a benefit? I’ve found that the very slight increase in sharpness in the Canon lens (and it’s very slight), also adds a little more moiré as a result. And again, since the Rokinon isn’t noticeably sharper in real world applications (grab a magnifying glass), the benefit of less moiré might actually be a plus here.

With both lenses fully wide open and at perfectly equal focal lengths to the chart, we see some interesting findings. The Rokinon (left) might be a little softer than the Canon (mostly at the far edges), but it also appears to produce less moiré and chromatic aberration than the Canon. 800 ASA, T1.5/f1.4, 45°.
Closing down the aperture a little to help increase sharpness, the same phenomenon occurs; the Rokinon (left) is a little softer than the Canon, but produces less moiré and chromatic abberation. 800 ASA, T2.8/f2.8, 108°.
At a more sharper sweet spot, we now see that both lenses are very close in overall sharpness, even in regards to moiré and chromatic aberration. At this aperture, you’ll be hard pressed to guess which lens is which. Rokinon, left. 800 ASA, T5.6/f5.6, 360°.

So far, the Rokinon is performing quite well against the Canon. But there are a few other small details I’ve noticed with the Rokinon. For one, the Rokinon seems to produce a very slight (again, very slight) increase in warm cast as compared to the Canon. I’m quite positive that this is due to the fact that the Canon L glass elements are manufactured with such incredibly high tolerances and quality (resulting in slightly clearer glass), whereas the Rokinon isn’t (or it wouldn’t be a $550 lens). But again, this warm cast I’m seeing is incredibly minimal, where it’s not really an issue for me personally. In fact, it may be an advantage is some shooting scenarios!

There also seems to be slightly more contrast in the Canon lens, but like the sharpness and warm cast scenarios, it doesn’t seem enough to be a deal breaker for me.

An interview nightmare; fine stitched garments that can produce moiré havoc (the second suit pattern in particular is the WORST kind to deal with on just about any camera). In this case, the Canon’s added sharpness (right) is both a blessing and a curse, as it produces slightly better detail and contrast, but also a little more moiré in the end. The Rokinon’s (left) warm cast is more apparent in this very monochromatic comparison. Personally, I’d rather dial out the yellow, as moiré is pretty much impossible to 100% repair in post.

All in all, I have to say I’m very pleased with the optical results of the Rokinon on the Cinema Camera. Is it worth the $550 bill, or does the extra $1k on the Canon make it a much wiser solution? Honestly, despite some of the build-quality hits on the Rokinon, I’d say this is actually a nice companion to the Cinema Camera. If I was starting my lens collection from scratch specifically for the Cinema Camera and I wanted to save some coin, I wouldn’t have any issue buying these lenses to build my collection from.

With that said, I would NOT buy these Rokinon lenses for still photography work. This is where the Canon L truly shines, and no question is worth the extra money at three times the cost. That is, if you’re going for professional quality.

But pairing this Rokinon lens with the Cinema Camera, it’s 2.5K resolution, and its ~2.2x crop factor (to cut out any vignetting or edge sharpness issues) really makes for a great match. I have Rokinon’s 14mm T3.1 cine lens is on the way, so I’m looking forward to testing that as well. I’ll likely I’ll also purchase the Rokinon 24mm T1.5 cine lens to add to this little Rokinon collection. But again, the Rokinon 8mm lens… I’m not hugely impressed and am sticking with the Sigma at that focal length. And keep your eyeballs pealed… Rokinon’s 85mm T1.5 Cine lens is due out next month (I’m definitely buying this one as well).

With the sun just barely out of the frame, we see the result of some intentional flaring. Also, both lenses have their apertures fully closed to see how much sharpness they retain; both lenses seem to be pretty equal here (Rokinon, left). 200 ASA, T22/f22, no grade.
Same test as before; intentional flaring and sharpness retention with aperture fully closed (Rokinon, left). 200 ASA, T22/f22, no grade.

Seriously, I think the budget filmmaker is going to really like this crop of Rokinon cine lenses for their Cinema Camera. The price is right and the image holds up to Canon L. Add to the fact that you get to use the Rokinon much more like a real cinema lens, rather than an electronically controlled still photography lens. In the end, the benefits stack up well for the Rokinon.

Since I own both lenses what will I do? If (A) the shot doesn’t have any moiré-inducing elements in it, and (B) I don’t need the functionality of the geared barrels, then I might go with the Canon L for the increased sharpness, truer colors, and higher contrast. But honestly, I’ll probably use the Rokinon in most situations. The Rokinon’s full manual control on both geared barrels is a huge plus for me, as well as knowing I might reduce any moiré elements that I didn’t catch while shooting. But like anything, it just depends on the shot.

Rokinon/Samyang
35mm T1.5 Cine
Canon
35mm f/1.4L
Street price
Mounts Available
Image Circle Type
Aperture
Focus control
Aperture control
Aperture steps
Number of blades
Groups/Elements
Minimum Focus Distance
Filter thread diameter
Image Stabilization
Weight
~$550
Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A
35mm Full-frame
T1.5 – T22
Manual
Manual
No steps (de-clicked)
8
10/12
1 foot
77mm ø
No
.92 lb (.42 kg)
~$1550
Canon EF
35mm Full-frame
f/1.4 – f/22
Electronic/Manual
Electronic
1/3rd
8
9/11
1 foot
72mm ø
No
1.28 lb (0.58 kg)

Pros and cons of each lens when used with the Cinema Camera

Rokinon Advantages

  • Low cost
  • Optical qualities somewhat similar to Canon when used on the Cinema Camera
  • Full manual operation
  • Geared focus ring and geared aperture ring, both lock-to-lock
  • De-clicked aperture
  • Lens marking on side of barrel, horizontal to the ground, easier to read
  • May actually induce less moiré than Canon counterpart
  • Spinning focus left and right doesn’t have any play; solid.
  • Lens flare seems to be a little cleaner
  • Slightly longer focus twist (almost 180°)
  • Available in Canon EF, Nikon F, or Sony A mount.

Rokinon Disadvantages

  • Very plastic build, nowhere near as good as Canon L
  • No apparent weather sealing
  • Lens filter thread is plastic
  • Just slightly less sharpness and contrast; might help for less moiré though

Canon Advantages

  • If used for DSLR still photography, increase in image quality is greatly apparent
  • Weather sealed and extremely high build quality
  • If moiré isn’t a factor in your shot, the added sharpness of the Canon lens could be beneficial at the open aperture end

Canon Disadvantages

  • High cost
  • May actually be “too sharp” inducing a slight increase in moiré in some shots
  • Electronic aperture, and only works in 1/3rd stop increments
  • Must use cumbersome ring gear for follow focus
  • Focus does not lock-to-lock, and spins infinitely
  • Focusing left and right has slight play in it; a little sloppy for video work
  • Slightly shorter focus twist
  • Markings are on top of the lens, rather than the side
  • At current Cinema Camera version 1.1, aperture is not controllable from the camera with this particular lens

Things to consider

  • Both lenses are (or originate from) still photography lenses, and as such, do not have extra long focus throws like real cinema lenses have.
  • Neither lens have extra large printed focal length numbers (in this case, “35mm”) to clearly see what lens is being used from afar. Real cinema lenses have this.
  • Both lenses share similar bokeh characteristics, including exact octagonal blade shape.
  • Because of the Cinema Camera’s ~2.2x crop factor, only the sweet spot of the lens is used for both lenses. Extreme edge-to-edge sharpness is not needed, nor are there any instances of noticeable vignetting, even fully wide open.
  • Added cost of Canon lens (about $1k more) might not be justifiable in this scenario.
  • Rokinon is about a 36mm or 37mm focal length in comparison to the Canon at 35mm.
  • No noticeable difference in chromatic aberration between both lenses; both seem very low.
  • Not necessarily good or bad, the Rokinon has a very slight warm tone to it (almost unperceivable in certain types of shots), as compared to the Canon. But the lack of warmth on the Canon does signify to me that it’s slightly truer to color representation.

 

EDIT: Some people are asking how I was able to change the aperture on the Canon 35mm f/1.4L lens since it can’t be changed in the Cinema Camera itself. Using my trusty 5D, I put the lens on that, made sure video mode was on, set the aperture for the lens, took the lens off (keeping the camera powered on), and then putting the lens on the Cinema Camera. This is the only way I’m currently able to change the aperture on this particular lens on the Cinema Camera. Again, this is only for the 35mm f/1.4L lens (and the 85mm f/1.2L as focus and aperture are on different protocols).

I’m seeing that some people are having some concerns about the mentioned Canon 35mm f/1.4L and 85mm f/1.2L II lenses. I’m fairly confident these two lenses will ultimately work with the Cinema Camera, like all the other Canon lenses. If Blackmagic Design can figure out Canon’s Image Stabilization protocol to make that work with the Cinema Camera, I’d have to believe they’ll get these two lenses to properly work as well. Why wasn’t it done first? Anyone’s guess. But again, this camera is only at version 1.1 and there’s still a lot of development in progress, a lot of cool things, I might add.

 

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Comparing the Cinema Camera: Part 2

Last Saturday I uploaded my latest Cinema Camera video, “Comparing the Cinema Camera: Part 2, The Impact of 12-bit RAW” which is a follow-up to my first video, “Comparing the Cinema Camera and the 5D Mk III”. In the new video, I go into more depth about how 12-bit RAW can aid in pulling shadow and highlight detail, and in relation to what is “perceived dynamic range” and “available dynamic range”.

I also go into examples of day-for-night, how working with higher dynamic range can be an advantage, even when deployed to web formats, detail versus sharpness, and much more.

Hopefully this garnishes more insight into the advantages of high dynamic range, as well as higher bit-depth flexibility, and how both aspects work hand-in-hand to achieve results that surpass some of the boundaries that 8-bit camera formats provide.

 

 

But like all comparison or tech videos that are posted online, there are always questions as to certain aspects of why (or why not) some portions of it where done the way they were (or were not).

For example, I’ve seen a few questions as to why a LOG curve wasn’t applied to the 8-bit file from the 12-bit RAW source footage. I also received some comments that these test are invalid since many 8-bit cameras have the dynamic range to shoot in the same manner as the 12-bit counterpart. To help clear this up, I’ve created some comparison images.

Let’s start with the 12-bit RAW source. Here’s how it looks debayered by default in Adobe RAW Reader.

By comparison, here is the same 12-bit image, with many of the levels setting applied to bring out the highlights and shadow detail.

Now personally, I don’t know a single 8-bit camera in the world that can retain this kind of dynamic range into its burned-in video file. Remember, this is a darkly lit room interior with only practical lighting, as well as extremely bright external city with a high exposure sky and clouds. If anyone has shot inside a room (with any kind of 8-bit camera) and pointed the camera outside, it’s always immediate that the window portions always blow out. You either expose for the interior, or the exterior, that is, if you don’t have means of properly reducing the exterior output by using ND gels on the windows, or bringing up the lighting in the interior and such. But lighting and filters aside, and just speaking at the camera level for this test, any 8-bit camera is going to have limits at its 256-level container. Typically, we let the majority of the window area become blow out, so we can retain some latitude in the shadow and mid areas. But this limitation is what this test is all about; to show how well the Cinema Camera (or any 12-bit camera with high dynamic range) can work under such extreme situations.

And like the video, here’s the 12-bit source with a -4 reduction in exposure:

 

As you can see, the sky (and curtains for that matter) retain a huge amount of image data. The sky is blue, the clouds have definition, and the histogram shows only a tiny amount (maybe 5%) of image data loss at the very high end.

Okay, let’s see it in 8-bit. Add 50-Mbps compression, 4:2:0 color space, and everything else done to keep these files small, and you lose huge amounts of image detail. Here’s the 8-bit H.264 file at 50Mbps rate:

But to prove this point further, lets look and see what would happen if made the 8-bit file with a more aggressive curve to more closely mimic that of a high-end 8-bit camera that allows for LOG shooting. Again, the remainder of this is all being done in 8-bit uncompressed, so keep that in mind.

Here’s curve “A”, which brings in highlight and shadow detail for the 8-bit conversion.

It’s not a huge departure from the original, but let’s see what happens when we apply -4 exposure to this file.

As you can clearly see, the portions in the sky turn to gray, much like they do in the original linear file in the video. There’s really not much of a difference, and the histogram stills shows a huge empty space, which means there’s not image data there.

Lets apply an even more aggressive curve to what will now be curve “B” for this 8-bit source file.

 

A curve would never be this dramatic, but there it is. And as we can see, this doesn’t do a ton for the area in the sky… those clouds are still pretty hidden in there. Let’s see what it looks like with -4 exposure now from a burned 8-bit source.

 

As extreme as curve “B” is, the result is almost identical to that of the curve “A” version. Just a lot of gray sky, and the histogram shows a lot of empty (no data) space.

Okay, let’s get really wacky. Rather than pull a curve from the 12-bit source, I’m going to manipulate the Highlight and Shadow levels of the 12-bit image to give us an image that gives us an 8-bit image with greater retention in the sky and shadow areas. Keep in mind though, this is NOT realistic of what any 8-bit camera would provide. This is partially due to the fact that the highlight and shadow zones of the histogram I’m pulling are extremely small and tight. Cameras that record to 8-bit formats do NOT create curves anywhere near this tight and acute. It would produce negatively adverse results with any image that does NOT have this kind of dynamic range extreme in it, i.e., the dark interior room AND the bright exterior sky in one shot. Okay, so here it is:

 

Now again, this isn’t a curve in the same sense, but we’ll call this curve “C”. As you can see, the Highlights and Shadows levels are completely moved to maximum opposite values (-100 and +100). There’s no camera in the world that would shoot like this because any other type of shot without these two extremes (interior shadows and exterior sky) would look very dull and synthetic. But for the sake of argument, we’ll use this curve “C”.

So with this pseudo curve that wouldn’t be captured this way on an 8-bit camera, we can still see that at -4 exposure, the sky turns dark, even if we do see some retention in the sky area with the clouds. And again, that’s a lot of image data on the histogram that has disappeared.

Now for some serious craziness, I’m going to pull the graded 12-bit image, and use THAT as the 8-bit source, and then pull negative exposure on that. It’s asinine, but it’ll help dispel any remaining questions about this.

So here’s the 12-bit graded shot, now acting as an 8-bit source. Mind you (and repeatedly), I do not know of any 8-bit camera in the world that can capture this kind of extreme exposure zones of interior shadows and exterior skylight energy in the same single shot. If there is, point me to it. Anyway, here’s the graded 12-bit shot again that we’ll now use as the 8-bit burned source, and call this example “D”.

And with this exported file to 8-bit, here we now set exposure to -4 and this is the result:

As you can see, everything becomes dark and again, roughly 75% of the image data is gone.  This of course, starting with an unrealistic 8-bit source (that is impossible to achieve in the first place), so it’s a rather moot point. But regardless, this is what you get when working with 8-bit files when you push them hard.

And again, here’s the 12-bit source image with the same exposure reduction:

And really, this is the whole point of the video (in the dynamic range section), that with 12-bit information, you can sweep these levels high and low, while still retaining a TON of image data in the process. This is something that 8-bit formats just can’t provide. Likewise, there isn’t an 8-bit camera out there that can capture this extreme level of exposure zones from imager to 8-bit truncation. Again, if to the contrary, please point me to one with footage to back it up, as I’d be interested to see this miracle happen.

Dynamic range and bit-depth are two different entities, but together can work hand-in-hand to bring results that trump any form of 8-bit limitations. Again, no matter what kind of picture profile voodoo or LOG implementation is manifested in the 8-bit data, shooting this same kind of shot (interior room shadows and exterior sky together) is a feat no 8-bit camera is happy to undertake, even with high dynamic range at the sensor level.

Honestly, my feeling is that anyone that tries to argue this further is merely trying to protect the cost of their camera investment (or the cameras they rent and bill to their clients). And don’t get me wrong, there are many other aspects as to why more expensive high-bit-rate cameras are indeed better than the Cinema Camera, I don’t argue that one bit. Frankly, I’d love to own an Arri Alexa or Sony F65/F55. But don’t let the small cost of this $3000 camera cloud the logic behind its image capabilities against 8-bit counterparts.

And to anyone that still begs to differ, I leave you with me and my shirt:

Cheers!

 

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