So, I might be a little late on this announcement as I’m currently working in Taiwan, but yesterday Canon released information on two new video cameras and 4 new zooms plus 3 cinematography prime lenses. The press information from Canon is below. Reading between the lines and picking out some of the key points this is a very significant announcement. The cameras have a new 8.29 mega pixel sensor recording to compact flash cards at 1920 x 1080, 4:2:2 at 50Mb/s. The sensor uses a bayer type pattern, but due to the very large pixel count it has a Red and Blue pixel for each sample in the 1920×1080 frame as well as two Green pixels. This should lead to very good colorimetry, but is a little odd considering that the camera only has a single HDSDi output, which I assume would just be 1.5G 4:2:2, so much of the 4:4:4 data derived from the sensor goes to waste unless it can output 4:4:4 10 bit over HDMI. The higher pixel count and thus smaller pixels than F3/Alexa could have an impact on dynamic range sensitivity and noise, but until I see some raw footage or get my grubby hands on one, who knows? The Laforet video “Mobius” http://vimeo.com/30215350 has quite a “video” look to it, but that might just be the online compression. The camera has a built in Log Curve that is said to offer improved dynamic range. Clearly Canon have some of the F3 market in their sights.
There are HDMI and HDSDi outputs so recording to an external device to improve image quality should not be an issue, 8 bit, 4:2:2 is a bit of a shame on a camera with a sensor spec like this, at least it’s an improvement over the Sony F3′s 8 bit 4:2:0 at 35MB/s. If your going to use the Log curve then you defiantly want to record to a higher quality, preferably 10 bit codec (I am assuming the HDSDi output is 10 bit). UPDATE: I am reading many reports of the HDSDI out only being 8 bit. I hope this is not the case!!!
It does tick many professional feature boxes with XLR audio in, Genlock and even a sync output. This would make it well suited to 3D applications. It looks kind of like a DSLR and has a removable handgrip, a rear mounted EVF as well as a removable smallish LCD panel. One mistake I think Canon have made is that you have to choose between the EOS lens mount and PL mount versions of the camera. Why could they have not made a camera body with a removable mount that would allow you to choose between PL or DSLR glass without having to change the entire camera body, or use an EOS to PL lens adapter with it’s extra optical elements?
Still I do like the thought of a stripped down EOS mount version (C300) with a nice L series zoom on it for shooting on the road or covert filming. However even the use of the EOS mount is a little strange as there is no provision for Auto Focus or Auto Iris, something that you would have thought would be easy to implement. This is a fully manual camera. I’d really like auto iris you know, if only for tricky time-lapse sequences. Iris control is on the camera body. According to Andy Shipsides of Abel Cine the iris steps slightly as you adjust it when using EOS lenses, what a shame. Makes PL sound like a better option for serious productions.
Having a s35mm sized sensor and the 50Mb/s 4:2:2 codec does meant that it ticks all of the BBC’s approval boxes, so you should be able to use it on most broadcast projects. But it is a strange beast on paper. A DSLR-ish form factor, EOS lens mount without focus or iris control, a 4:4:4 ready sensor but only 4:2:2 recording. Hmmm, you know what, I have to wonder if that sensor isn’t going to appear in another camera with RGB or Dual Link recording. Camera price is approx $20k USD, available in January.
As an F3 owner the new Canon PL mount lenses look ver interesting indeed. The 30-300mm T2.9 – T3.7 would be a great lens for shooting music concerts and other similar events, while the 14.5-60mm T2.5 would be a fantastic all round zoom covering the most commonly used focal lengths that I use.
Canon Press Release:
Lights! Camera! Action! Canon Launches Cinema EOS System
All-New Cinema Lens Line-up & Digital Video Camcorders to Leave No Story Untold
Canon today announced its full-fledged entry into the motion picture production industry with the launch of the Cinema EOS System. Canon’s new professional digital cinematography system spans the lens, digital video camcorder and digital SLR camera product categories.
The Cinema EOS System targets a new area of imaging and builds on a 74-year history of innovation and expertise in the field of optical and imaging technology.
The new Cinema EOS System, offers compatibility with Canon’s wide array of high-performance EF lenses, provides cinematographers with a range of unprecedented creative possibilities to ensure that no story is left untold.
With the debut of the Cinema EOS System, Canon today introduced seven new 4K EF Cinema Lenses, four zoom lenses and three single-focal-length models, which complement the current diverse line-up of interchangeable EF lenses for EOS SLR cameras.
4K EF Cinema Lens Line up
The seven new 4K EF Cinema Lens models include four zoom lenses covering a wide zoom range from 14.5 mm to 300 mm, two models each for EF and PL lens mounts, and three single-focal-length lenses for EF mounts. All seven new lenses deliver exceptional 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) optical performance and offer compatibility with Super 35 mm-equivalent sensors.
EOS C300/C300 PL Interchangeable-Lens Digital Video Camcorder
The Canon EOS C300/C300 PL is an all new digital video camcorder available in two models: the EOS C300, equipped with an EF lens mount which is compatibility with the wide array of Canon EF interchangeable lenses; and the EOS C300 PL, offering a PL lens mount for use with industry-standard PL lenses. The camcorder features a Super 35 mm, 8.29-megapixel CMOS sensor ideally suited for digital cinematography.
Cinema EOS System: Product Overview
7 New EF Cinema lenses:
CN-E14.5–60mm T2.6 L S – (EF Mount)
CN-E14.5–60mm T2.6 L SP – (PL Mount)
CN-E30–300mm T2.95–3.7 L S – (EF Mount)
CN-E30–300mm T2.95–3.7 L SP – (PL Mount)
CN-E24mm T1.5 L F – (EF Mount)
CN-E50mm T1.3 L F – (EF Mount)
CN-E85mm T1.3 L F – (EF Mount)
2 New Digital Video Camcorders:
EOS C300 – (EF Mount)
EOSC300 PL – (PL Mount)
Just a quick note on a rather obscure subject. I do a lot of 3D work. Buying pairs of PL mount lenses for my F3′s is beyond my budget right now, so I hire in lenses when I need them. However for my own projects I use DSLR lenses, mainly Nikkors and Tokina’s. One thing that i have discovered is that many of the older manual Nikkors have a tendency to shift the image left and right when you focus. This then miss-aligns the rig. The more modern internal focussing lenses are much, much better in this respect with little or no shift at all. The only problem with the more modern IF lenses is that they often don’t have iris rings (so iris is adjusted with a MTF adapter) and the focus control often has a slipping clutch making repeatable focussing a little harder. So neither is perfect. For 3D applications I think the more modern IF lenses are preferable.
For me early Summer means airshow season and there are a couple of events that I shoot every year. The first is Flying Legends at the Imperial War Museum site at Duxford and features vintage aircraft predominantly from the second world war. The following weekend is the Royal International Air Tattoo, one of the largest military air shows and is all about the latest fast jets and military hardware. For the last 3 years I have been tasked with shooting aircraft being prepared for flight at both shows and for this I have been using a variety of cameras, but almost always some kind of ENG type camera. I’ve used PDW700′s, EX1′s and EX3′s. This year however it was decided to try and use one of my PMW-F3′s in order to take advantage of the shallow Depth of Field and give the footage a higher quality, filmic look.
Of course using the F3 for a shoot like this brings many challenges and one of the reasons for using it on these projects was to discover exactly whether the trade off between ease of use and shallow DoF was worth it. Thankfully, producer Steve Connor (flying machinestv.co.uk) is willing to let me try new things on his productions.
So how was it? Well it was hard work compared to running around with an EX1 or EX3. You have to check, check and double check focus all the time and this slows you down a little. The other thing is the lens. A camera like the EX1 has a 14x zoom lens giving a great range of focal lengths from a good wide angle to a nice long telephoto. With the F3 your lens choices are currently much more limited. While there are some very nice zooms like the Optimo 24-290mm (12x zoom) these just are not practical for run n gun. The Optimo weighs a whopping 24lbs/11kg . The other alternative to PL lenses is to use a DSLR lens. One of my favourites is the old Tokina AT-X Pro 28-70mm as this does not telescope, has a nice big focus scale and proper iris ring, but it’s only a 2.5x wide zoom, not much use for longer shots. The upshot of all this is that you end up doing a lot of lens swaps going from a wide zoom to a longer one (Sigma 70-300mm in my case). In addition the DSLR zooms are varifocal so you can’t zoom during the shot as the focus will shift.
So… I’m running around with the F3 and a rucksack with a couple of lenses and my favourite Vinten 100 tripod, swapping lenses many times for different shots. There’s no one-push auto iris confidence check, no image stabiliser and the batteries don’t last as long. As I said, compared to an EX1 it was hard work. But, I was able to be creative. It was easy to introduce some nice foreground or background soft focus objects. To do gentle pull focuses and to generally get good looking shots as opposed to just getting ordinary looking shots.
When an aircraft is started things can get very busy. There are spinning propellors to be aware of, or dangerous jet blasts (not to mention the noise). Aircraft can taxi with no warning. At these moments I was able to stop down the iris a bit to give myself greater depth of field for a little bit focus tolerance. This is what I like about the F3. It’s got sensitivity to spare so you can pick and choose how much DoF you have.
By the time the second airshow (RIAT) came around I realised that constant lens swapping was costing me shots. So for RIAT I used a Nikon 18-135mm zoom. This 7.5x zoom gave a much better focal length range, but its a rather nasty lens in so much as it’s f3.5 – f5.6 so the aperture changes as you zoom and it’s not particularly fast. It also telescopes and extends a lot as you zoom in, so you can’t use it with a matt box. The focus ring has no scale and iris has to controlled using the MTF adapter iris control. So all in all not my favourite lens, but for this particular shoot it worked out quite well. One thing that did become apparent is that not having a super fast lens, on this particular type of project was not an issue. I could still get reasonable shallow DoF shots when wide and at f3.5. At longer focal lengths the DoF decreases anyway, so shooting at f4 or f5.6 still yields pleasing results.
The footage from the shoots does look good. It has a much nicer look to it than conventional ENG video. The shallow DoF adds a quality feel to the material. While I didn’t shoot as much as I would have done with a more traditional camcorder due to the extra time required for lens changes, focus checking and the need to use the tripod more often, what I did shoot looked better overall so a higher percentage of what I shot will probably make it into the final production.
So as for my original question.. was it worth the effort? Well I think the answer is yes. The F3 can be used for run n gun, but it’s hard work, however the results are worth the extra effort.
I was sent a couple of Adaptimax lens mount adapters to test on my PMW-F3. I have used some of their EX3 adapters in the past and these worked very well. The new PMW-F3 adapters are finished with a very nice hard black anodised finish and look very smart indeed. I had 3 adapters to try, one F3 to Canon and two F3 to Nikon adapters. The Canon adapter is a “dumb” adapter, so there is no way to control the lenses iris. If your using Canon lenses this means using a DSLR body to set the iris before using the lens on the F3. Obviously this is not ideal, but you do have to consider that there is a massive range of lenses that can be used with this Canon adapter via a secondary adapter ring.
Canon’s flange back distance (the sensor to lens distance) is the shortest in the DSLR world. So this means that there is space to adapt to other lens mounts with longer flange back distances such as M42, Nikon, Pentax, Pentacon etc. This opens up a whole world of possibilities as now you can use those nice M42 Zeiss lenses that can be picked up cheap on ebay by adding a cheap M42 to Canon adapter.
If you have already invested in Nikon fit glass then you can use a Nikon to Canon adapter or you can use one of Adaptimax’s purpose built F3 to Nikon adapters.
There are two varieties, the original Adaptimax and the Adaptimax Plus. The Plus version includes a long screw that pushes the iris pin on the rear of the lens to give you iris control even when the lens does not have an iris ring. While this is not as elegant as MTF Services rotating adapter barrel, it works fine and the simplicity of the design means the adapter is a little cheaper. The standard version has no iris control, so you need to ensure your lens has a proper iris ring. Priced at £255 for the standard adapters and £265 for the plus versions these are good value for money.
Well I’m a happy chappy. Took delivery of my second PMW-F3 today so that I can shoot my 3D projects using a pair of F3′s rather than my EX1/EX3. Now I have a working lens converter that allows me to use standard 2/3″ broadcast lenses on the F3 the F3 is fast becoming my default camera for almost everything. So the I took the decision to trade in my EX3 against a second F3. For lenses on the 3D rig I’m going to use DSLR lenses. Today I checked out my Nikon 50mm f1.8′s and these were just fine but my Tokina 28mm f2.8′s are un-useable as the lens optical axis shifts as you focus causing alignment errors, so I need to find some alternative wide angle lenses. I’d really like two sets of Zeiss PL mount Compact Primes, but that’s way beyond my budget. I might try and stretch to a couple of sets of Zeiss ZF.2′s, but I think that for the moment it’s going to have to be a case of building up pairs of lenses as I can afford them.
OK folks. I wanted to see just how well a 2/3″ broadcast lens would work on an F3, but don’t have $5.5k to fork out on one of the Abel adapters. So with a bit of head scratching, a few, lowish cost lens purchases and a few hours in the workshop I cobbled together my own adapter. At first I tried a 2x magnifier but this didn’t quite give me full sensor coverage and was soft out in the corners. With a little more work I took the magnification up to 2.5x and I have clean corners. I’m really pleased with the performance, although one lens element needs changing for a higher quality element to combat some softness when the iris is fully open.
My old Canon J16x8 f1.8 becomes a 24 to 320mm f4(ish) par-focal lens which is actually quite handy. Next step is to make up a power cable for the lens so I can use the zoom servo.
I’m considering trying to find a manufacturer that can make these up for me properly, the converter should cost a lot less than $5.5k
UPDATED: SEE UPDATE AT END!
I won this lens on ebay for the grand total of £44.00. Now for that kind of money you don’t normally expect to get a great deal, but this time I got quite a lot. I certainly got a lot of weight and bulk, this is a big lens. It was designed to work with a Pentacon or Kiev medium format camera with a 6″x6″ frame size. The front element is about 3″ (80mm) in diameter, it’s over a foot long and weighs about 5lbs (2.5kg). One of the things that attracted me to it is the iris which has 19 blades giving a very round aperture, so the bokeh is very pleasant looking. The rear of the lens has a Pentacon to M42 mount onto which I screw a M42 to Nikon adapter ring. Due to it’s length and weight it is vital that the lens is supported. The lens comes with a 3/8″ mounting ring with a 3/8″ to 1/4″ insert.
For the moment I’m using the bracket from a Genus DSLR shoulder rig to support the lens until my new Genus lens support bracket arrives.
So… what are the pictures like? Well at F4 it’s a little soft, but stop it down to f5.6 and it sharpens up nicely. I also tried it with a 1.5x and 2x extender as these will soon show up any lens issues. With both the lens performed respectfully well with the iris at f5.6. Stop down to f8 and the lens really performs very well. Of course with the very small s35 sensor compared to the 6″x6″ that the lens was designed for you are only using the center part of the frame, which always tends to be the sharpest part. While it may not perform as well as the latest state of the art long focal length Canon’s or Nikons, this lens does do a pretty good job and if you only occasionally need a long lens, for the money it’s hard to beat.
UPDATE: To get this lens to work on the F3 I was using a M42 to Nikon adapter. This has a corrective lens in it to enable infinity focus. After playing with this adapter on some other M42 lenses I found it’s performance to be less than satisfactory at large apertures. So I tried the Pentacon 4 again, but this time with a M42 to Canon adapter and one of Steve Shovlar’s new Adaptimax Canon to F3 adapters. The performance improvement was quite noticeable and now I can use the Pentacon fully open at f4 with great results. This really is a rather nice lens.
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