NAB 2015: NAB is over but the effects are still being felt, and they are mostly positive, says Danny Dawson.
Naturally, the first port of call was the Canon stand to be one of the first to see and hold the C300 MKII.
Canon has been quite clever in calling this unit the ‘MKII’; those who are familiar with the original model will know what to expect in terms of the physical form of the unit and how to operate it.
The addition of 4K was expected and while it is a great feature the change in codec is the most significant addition.
XF-AVC is clearly a derivative of Sony’s outstanding XAVC codec (it may be the same), but regardless of who created the codec, finally MPEG-2 and 8-bit files are gone and forgotten.
That has to be great as even the heaviest of grades to a 10-bit HD file can be applied before colours and sensitivity become crushed.
One of the main features I was really impressed with was the Dual Pixel Auto Focus.
If you have used this upgradeable option on the original C300 you know that it’s particularly handy for run ‘n’ gun usage, however the version for the MKII works like an absolute dream because you can expand and move the area of focus.
I can see hire companies taking this camera by the bucket load.
Also on the Canon stand was the delightful XC-10.
It’s a great additional camera or B camera to go with either C300 or to use as a standalone camera.
This too also uses the XF-AVC codec though only posts to an 8-bit file. And it has a fixed mounted lens.
But what’s remarkable is that in terms of quality and look this camera packs a similar punch to that of a Canon C300. Not bad for circa £1,500. And at that price, it’s a genuine answer to the threat of Blackmagic Design’s pocket cameras.
Speaking of Blackmagic, they launched a new, mini version of the Ursa. Instead of a 10-inch flip-out screen, it has a reasonable 5-inch monitor and the mounts are non-swappable; you choose PL or EF mount. My suggestion is PL mount and get a good adaptor.
While Blackmagic has taken its camera count into near double figures, AJA has stuck with one, the Cion.
Last year this camera really caught the imagination of anyone that saw it at NAB and then IBC.
There was a lot of hype, but it is well built, with a solid codec and reliable recording media based around AJA’s Ki-Pro technology.
However, when it launched it was missing one or two vital features, the most obvious being built-in ND filters.
I really can’t see how they expect a camera of that size to have a matte-box attached the whole time so it should be a no-brainer, right?
AJA, if you’re reading this, please understand that I and many others are big fans of the Cion.
Your recoding products have always been great for us and your badge on a product is a sign of quality but add ND Filters to your camera.
You’ve had a year now of listening to potential users and buyers and yet nothing. Poor form.
And speaking of not doing much, there really wasn’t very much for us to gawp at on the Sony stand.
But that’s a good thing.
Sony has launched far too many cameras in the last three or four years, so it was a relief that there weren’t any new internally recording cameras.
The FS7 is so good it should be given a chance to compete against the C300. So it’s an odd “well done” from me to Sony for leaving it alone.
Panasonic had a rather odd 4K hand-held camera on display.
It’s been imaginatively titled the AG-DVX200 (rolls of the tongue, right?) and it has a crimson red rear, carbon finish and a fixed Leica lens.
So the body should be light, the sensor seems decent and it offers HD frame speeds of up to 120fps.
The camera isn’t due for release until later in the year and there wasn’t a great deal of information about it but well done Panasonic. It’s reported that it will cost around £4,000, so Sony’s FS7 and the C300s might need to look out.
I hope this one works out for them. We’ve have never had any technical issues with any of our Panasonic stock so I look forward to the development of this unit.
Away from cameras, LED lighting was pretty much everywhere as usual but none more impressive than what we saw at Rotolight, with the Neo on display. We at Alias are big fans of the Anova LED panel light and so meeting its little brother was a real pleasure.
I suspect we will have stacks of these lights as they are pretty amazing.
They are much brighter than most lights of that size and scale.
Dimmable and fully adjustable across 3150k to 6300k gives it an edge over all of its competitors but it is packed with special effects.
To name a few, it has strobe effects, lightning effects as well as a log-fire effect, it even has set timed faders and can be run on AA batteries.
I was so impressed with this light that I am already committed to buying quite a few of the set of 3 x head units as well as a bunch of the single heads.
They’re so good that I actually think they could be a happy replacement for conventional Dedo lights.
Also impressive was the Small HD stand.
They were recently bought by the Vitec Group and it’s obvious to see why. Great, handheld mobile phone-style monitors that can be used with a dedicated loupe and a 7-inch OLED monitor and both benefit from wonderful design and functionality.
One of the biggest disappointments was the Carl Zeiss stand.
Last year they debuted a servo motor that in theory attaches to their range of compact zooms.
Unfortunately it wasn’t working when I saw it last year or at IBC in September and this year they didn’t even bring it with them to NAB. Zeiss, what’s going on? Get the unit working!
We’re on a mission to find a mobile IP streaming solution. Previously I was quite taken with LiveU 200 but I suspect Webstreamur’s Streamur 6 may be just be the ticket for us.
It’s very easy to use in what is traditionally a complicated area. I always hope that there is something better out there but if we move into live web-streaming then this is the magic box for us.
Finally, but most definitely not least, the NHK stand had a Toshiba-manufactured 8K camera on display.
Nothing new there of course.
But in my time of seeing 8K cameras this is the first time I have seen a shoulder-mount sized 8K camera that records internally.
No encoders, no need for an output - all in the camera via SSD cards.
They even had test footage shot just a few days earlier on the Vegas strip.
NAB has outdone itself. Again. Viva Las Vegas!
- Danny Dawson is managing director of Alias Hire