Zacuto EVF Review

EVFflip

 

EVF History & Introduction

The HDSLR revolution changed the way we shoot video forever which lead to a huge demand for camera support. We’ve seen many inventions in the past two years but a decent EVF for the Canon 5D MkII and 7D cameras has yet to exist until now.  A few companies announced rumors claiming they have EVF’s in production but only a few have actually put out a product on the market. That’d be Cineroid EVF ($750), Zacuto EVF ($650-$1k), and SmallHD DP4 EVF ($750).

I’ve been fortunate enough to test out the Zacuto EVF Flip-Pro Prototype on a 25-Day feature (R1 MX) and a 3-Day PSA shoot (5D/7D). I really enjoyed testing it in two very different applications. The feature being very harsh and demanding on build quality and the PSA was quick-n-short relying on ease of use. I put this little bad boy through the ultimate test.

Hardware

The front face is the LCD screen which is very elegant and sharp. I much prefer this screen over some of Marshall’s monitors and Canon’s Camera LCD.

EVFchart2

There are two models a Snap-On ($640) and a Flip-Up ($740). Which one do I buy? Well depends, I like the Flip-Up it’s a very handy and worth the $100 in my opinion. If you’re on a budget crunch or don’t care for EVF mode then go the Snap-On route. Just be ready to have a place to put your Z finder when you don’t need it (Some people like the lanyard but I can’t stand them, if you have a belt then you can use the CineBag, again personal preference). On the back end we have the LP-E6 Battery Slot for quick access. I was very skeptical about all the new monitors supporting LP-E6 batteries, the more and more I used them, slowly I began to love it. Over the course of a 12hr period if I powered down the EVF in-between takes I could get through a days worth of shooting on one Canon Brand battery. Sometimes if I left it on all day then I would get 10hrs per battery, with 3rd party batteries I would get 4-8hrs depending on manufacture, I tried 3 brands.

Features

All the first generation Monitors that were designed for DSLR use only one HDMI port, this caused all sorts of problems! Dealing with converter boxes, HDMI Splitters, having to power the darn things, a true headache for producers and camera department. So now that we learned the hard way, everything coming out this year has HDMI Loop thank god. For all the cameras that aren’t DSLR they still offer an HDMI port so you end up keeping your HD-SDI free for more important things. Recently Zacuto put out an update that allows the option to monitor sound, this is great if you’re a one man army. Checking audio levels and operating at the same time couldn’t be any easier.

Pros

  • Available NOW
  • Made in USA
  • HDMI-Loop
  • LP-E6 Battery Compatible (10Hrs w/Canon Brand Battery)
  • False Colors & 1:1 Ratio
  • Custom Settings for any Camera

Cons

  • Z-Finder tends to fall off (Solution: I get 1/4” Strip of Gaffer tape and run it along the border of the Frame and Z-Finder)
  • No lock for EVF when in Flip Mode (Pic Above)
  • Only 1 Mounting Point
  • No Red One MX Camera Setting
  • Takes about 15-30 Min to Color Calibrate the Monitor

Wrap-Up

Being one of the first and few EVF out there, Zacuto seems to meet every demand.  Being smaller than the DP4 it’s more logical for use in EVF mode when attaching it to a shoulder rig, the screen is still big enough to fit the needs when using no eye loop (which reminds me of the LCD I grew up with on my Canon GL1). The HDMI-Loop is key and the fact that I can use one battery for a full 12hr shoot makes all the difference. It’s unfortunate that you have to either own a Z-Finder or buy one (You should own one if you don’t already). The Menu and UI is very respectable, it’s good to go straight outta the box and if you want to dig deep for functions there’s plenty of depth to work with. Typically I use Flip-Mode 60% of the time and 40% in EVF; everyone has their preference not to mention every shoot will determine how it’s used. I consider it more of a hybrid since you can decide between two modes and its more flexible when it comes to run-n-gun shooting style. This is a great product and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who needs an EVF/Monitor. You can wait for other brands to release their version but I wouldn’t hold my breathe for too long, you might end up choking.

Mac Pro Thunderbolt 2.0 Bus

MacProBus

Little by little the New MacPro’s are hitting the streets giving us a hands on report of how these machines work.

“so everyone knows, you have 3x thunderbolt busses, and this is how they’re split up. NOTE- the HDMI port shares bus 0! Keep TB2 and TB1 separate for 20Gb/Sec operation”

Part of the appeal is it’s Thunderbolt 2.0 & USB 3.0 Interface. StrawberryDIT posted the Mac Pro Bus Map on his Instagram account.

StrawberryDIT StrawberryDIT2

Depending on the devices you use will determine your port path to maximize the speed of each Thunderbolt attachment. If push comes to shove the HDMI can be freed up with the use of an 15” ASUS Portable Monitor, it uses USB 3.0 for Power and Display….as seen  in the video bellow.

 

 

Pimp Your Element Technica Mantis Shoulder Rig

Over the years with much use and time your Hand Grips begin to lose their density. The acids in palm sweat brake down the rubber and causes the grips to slip. The look of the rig turns sloppy and under maintained. Since the grips become softer it’s harder to keep a firm grip over long takes so your hands have to constantly re-adjust which effects movement in camera.

A great way to facelift your Element Technica Mantis is by ordering a set of ODI Lock-On HandGrips which are available in fun colours to best suit your personality. The bottom caps protect the Mantis Handle from getting scratches.

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To remove the old grips I’d recommend a compressor with a point tip for the easiest removal if not canned air will do with a few twist and turns.

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Keep in mind if you have an older style rig like mine with the Shorter Grip Post w/Remote Stop  you’ll have to order a smaller 90mm handgrip to compensate. The newer models use a pair of traditional 130mm length Grips.

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You can see the olds grips do no justice to the Lock-Ons!

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SOURCE: Element Technica MantisElement Technica GripsODI Lock Rings - ODI Grips 130mm/90mm

Red Dragon w/ New Fans

Making everyone happy on set is key to establish peace with a crew. Over the years since Epic was released in 2011, the main complaint was the fans high dB count during a take. Sound department hates it and tends to sum up more work for post in the sound mix.

We had the same issue years ago when films went from silent to talkies in the early 30′s, it’s very cool to stand next to a Panavision Gold camera during a take to hear it’s subtle purr. Inside that box is years of perfection where all the magic is being made. Still to this day even 75mm IMAX cameras are so loud the whole scene needs ADR.

Below is an image of the a Dragon Epic with new 6K sensor, New Top Fan and New Top Plate.

RedFan Dragon

RedFan DragonECU

RedFanBirdEye

It appears Red went with dual fans for ultimate performance so they’re offering a Top Plate Trade-In program to help with the modifications due to the fans new form factor, this is very cool for current Red Top Plate Owners. Some 3rd party Top Plates may not clear so you’ll have to wait until manufactures can confirm compatibility.

DSMCFanKit2_ConfigEpicFDSMCFanKit2_ConfigEpicB

DSMCFanKit2_Dragon

The kit above retails for $450 or if you like to take it slow then you can order one at a time for $250 each. The fans should be shipping within the week and the Top Plates are still in the works. Along with Fans shipping a new FirmWare has dropped with all new heat/fan algorithms.

FanAlg

Please contact your Red Sales Rep for further details and can be ordered on the SOURCE link below.

SOURCE Red.comStore, RedUser1, RedUser2_Firmware

CES 2013 Review

The new year has dawned upon us, the world didn’t end … yes we’re still here which is a wonderful thing. So now what?

CES thats what! Its an electronic trade show that takes place in Vegas, almost like Christmas after Christmas. For us camera junkies there’s about four conventions worth keeping an eye on which can give you insight of what to expect in the near future.  I just wanna highlight the current technological challenges and how the industry will fight back with super products.

4K

First it was Black and White then Color, about ten years ago we had the HD movement and today it’s Ultra-HD (four times the resolution of any conventional HD screen). Last CES we saw prototype 4K screens but nothing like this year which has made  trade floor dominance. You can now  buy a 4K TV for a shinny quater but there’s practically no content available to consume at such resolution. Every major TV Manufacter has a line of 4K screens along with OLED 1080p screens. There’s nothing wrong if you just jumped into the HD world cause we still have sometime before 4K has it roots locked down.

For this to happen 4K Standards need to be made before you can take advantage of this new technology. Since your information has quadrupled it’s hard to get content to consumers although there are a few solutions. Netflix surprised us with “coming soon” booth streaming 4k to a UHD screen made by Samsung, most reviews stated it had a ways to go due to compression artifacts. Sony has 4K content with a media player but still in prototype phases, if you happened to purchase a XBR-84X900 84” for $24,000 then you get a 4K player along with a few movie titles. Aside from Sony the only other avalable content is that from Red who released the worlds first 4K Media Player, this allows you to share content via ODE MAX, distribute or playback videos you shot with Red products.

2013 has broken the ice for 4K, we are seeing an expansion of screens in conventional sizes for consumers who aren’t stupid rich that will be priced at a slight premium than normal HD sets. Not really sure what that means my guess is anywhere from $6-$10k+.

Photography

Uusally most Photo announcements are made at Photokina but every now and then some cameras get lost in their own refresh cycle and end up at CES kinda like Fuji this year updating their popular X-Series.

Fuji X20 & X100s

fuji_pair

I’ve been DSLR-less since my 5D MkII got stolen and I haven’t looked back once I bought a Scarlet. At the moment I’ve been using my Galaxy Nexus for pictures but I’m always disappointed with the results. So I’ve begun the search for a camera thats “the one”. It’s really hard to find something that you want to shoot on everyday  thats affordable, has style, creates a promising RAW image, and analog controls . Everything I came across was from Leica and way out of my budget then I found FujiFilm. Fuji is pretty much the only other camera manufacture that is making a good Leica knock off. Granted their new X100s will run you $1300 but it’s in reach for many photo enthusiasts compared to a $2000 Leica X2. On the Premium Compact Camera end Fuji has the X20 which is the 2nd revision of it’s current model the X10. It’s no ordinary point and shoot since it has RAW capabilities a new 12 megapixel 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor that is larger than it’s predecessor. A nifty x4  zoom lens (28-112mm equivalent to 35mm) sporting f/2.0 – f/2.8 variable aperture and manual barrel. The Fuji X20 also gains an Advanced Optical ViewFinder, record Lamborghini start up time and auto-focus. It will retail for $600 and ships sometime in March. Personally I will keep an eye on this guy, looks very promising.

Fuji X20 Spec Link

Gaming

During an interview with Sony CEO Kaz Hirai the last question asked was “Share any detail you’d like about the next Play Station”. This is a big year for Microsoft since rumors have it a next-gen XBOX is due for  this Christmas to compete with the WiiU that was released last year. PS4 rumors have become more popular also claiming 2013 release but nothing concrete until now. Kaz responds with “We are on a 10 year Cycle” much like the PS2 which was discontinued Q4 2012 after 13 years of retail.”Very aggressive growth in PS3 business” was another response by Kaz, to me that says Sony is waiting until Microsoft lays its cards down and continue with good PS3 profits since a third Super Slim PS3 revision has been released a few months ago. What I get from this is by 2016 we can expect 4K standards that will finalize Ultra-HD content distribution, so yes I believe when PS4 decides to be released, it will be 4K ready.

project_shield_v2b

Nvidia gave us a grand surprise with Project Shield, a handheld controller with a 5” Retina screen running Android UI. Under the hood is a Tegra4 chip for snappy gaming on the go, or stream via WiFi with your computer and play PC Titles at full settings, pause the game, take it to the living room TV for when your friends show up and have them join the gameplay… For travel this is a win, play all your games, watch movies saved on a microSD card, spare the battery on your phone or tablet. It’s the ultimate entertainment gadget. TegraZone offers the ability to shop at a curated Game App store that works best with Tegra processors.

Impressive Specs

  • -State of the Art Speakers (Comparable to Beat Pill Speakers)
  • -Can be used as a portable set-top
  • -4K Output & Playback
  • -microSD slot
  • - 5-10Hr GamePlay, 24Hr HD Video PlayBack
  • -Pure Stock Android

No info on price but it definitely seems like a great solution for us avid on-the-go gamers that want the supreme experience. Who knows it could become a new standard.

Check out the video Below with the Press Conference

All in all a pretty solid year, the introduction of 4K screens for consumers is finally here, hopefully with enough units being sold we can begin to see the interest in making 4k an industry standard sooner than later. The gaming industry is transforming from two seprate markets; handheld & TV set tops, to now a hybrid ecosystem of gaming offering a unique experience at every tier. Very cool, CES has set the tone for the months to follow can’t wait!

BMC Cages are released for a Delayed Camera //

Everyday it seems like a new camera is released. Finally any camera you find on the street can promise a certain “Image Quality”.

BMCC ProRes

2012 we can say aside from 2008 is a landmark for digital cinema. The RAW push has begun, younger generations are born into a world with ease of accessibility to create content, Hollywoods 2D elite storytellers pursuit shooting in larger formats like 70mm IMAX Film (Christopher Nolan, Terrence Malick “Knight of Cups”, JJ Abrams “Star Trek 2013″).  We’ve all had to learn a new set of digital skills, “film” is but memories and old set tales to the youth. Every camera company at NAB announced 4K output and every recorder company announced 4K Recorders.  Red and Black Magic are the few camera manufactures with on-board RAW recording thats accessible to the consumer. Everything for the most part is still 8-bit on board recording and RAW  4K output.

The camera of today…. the camera that’s on everyones mind is the Black Magic Cinema Camera, aside the Scarlet-X it’s the most anticipated camera of 2012. Black Magic proved that a RAW 12-bit 2K camera with SDI is available for $3k. It has its compromises smaller than Micro 4/3 Sensor (16mm size more or less), Funky Form Factor, Built-in-Battery….. I highly doubt it will stop it from being the next “Jesus Camera”.  You’ll never lose a job due to codec delivery, RAW DNx ProRes it does it all. Everyone is happy, Owner Operators never lose a job, Producers and Editors don’t need to sweat. In my view it’s the Scarlet 8x 2/3 reborn for 2012.

BMCC

Making cameras isn’t easy, Black Magic is working on the final touches, the release has been pushed to mid-August. The streets are calling it the “DSLR Killer” which could very well be true, I await industry reactions.

Until then gear up for when your sweet sweet BMC arrives…

Third party vendors are releasing accessories check out the links bellow.

SSD MEDIA 128GB at $100 - 240GB at $220 – 480GB at $380                          (5 MB/frame in RAW 2.5K fits about 30 minutes of 24p video on a 256 GB solid state disk. Compressed HD formats fit more than 5 times the amount of RAW video.)

ViewFactor Cage Starting at $299 and up

Wooden Camera Cage starts at $399

145900-CAMERA-CAGE-BMC-6

Black Magic’s President gives us a little History of  BMC.


“I Got What Ya Need” Scarlet-X > < Behind the scene

Intro:

Scarlet-X couldn’t have come at a better time, even though Canon and Arri will convince you 1080p will do, it’s a lie; rumors have it that both companies are working hard on a 4K camera. 4K represents a true Cinema grade image and it is the future of Digital Cinema. Red has done an amazing job of whipping the “industry” into shape by providing a cost effective solution for operators to own their personal gear. Having been a R1 DIT on a handful of Indi Features I can say that the Scarlet is the new MkII that does 4K and can handle abuse in a production enviroment. The amount of content that’s gonna be produced from these cameras will be revolutionary and set the new standard for tomorrow.

I have to thank everyone at Red for their support and hard efforts in designing cameras that we thought could never exist. It takes a great vision to picture a world where Ultra-Resolution is common in the entertainment industry and RED has helped us get there. Scarlets and Epics are assembled here in the Irvine CA with under 500 employees, cutting edge both in technology and manufacture techniques.

It’s been years of desire to own a Scarlet, at last that day has come…

 

Once my brain arrived I went on the hunt for a 5.0 Touch.  My buddy Paul was at Widespread Creative Studio in Downtown Austin, Kelly happened to have a Touch Screen but no brain. Together we merged powers like an 80′s saturday morning cartoon and had a working Scarlet-X for the weekend. The weather was much like LA and the light was soft through most the shoot giving us the prime conditions with a slight frosty breeze. While prepping the camera by the curb a car stops in the middle of the road to see what we where doing. A voice pokes out of the tinty windows, “Hey is that a Red camera?” We couldn’t believe ourselves, we haven’t even started shooting!

The Shoot:

Having the same build as it’s bigger brother Epic, it allows for a “DSLR” feel but can pack a 4K Cinematic image along with high fram-rates cropped at 3K 48fps and 2k 60fps. I wanted to experiment with the Variable Speed mode to see it’s limitations since there aren’t many videos that do so. 1/3 of our video is slo-mo, majority of the clips are at 60fps; very appropriate for when your subject is moving 50mph.

To match my mental storyboard to reality I needed to suspend the camera 6-inches above the ground safely. Using a wide Prime lens (ZE 21mm)  the riders needed to be 5-feet or less from the camera, as James would describe it “scary close” in order to feel like we’re riding next to Evan and Holt. Reminded me of WakeSurfing only on pavent at 40-50mph down a hill, on some runs they where so close we could carry a conversation with pointers to help improve the shot.

To keep the rig feather light we used the DC Power Adapter that was converted through the Cigarette Lighter. A GoboHead w/MafferClamp allowed us to strap the camera for ultimate protection.

UI is pretty straight forward, a whole bunch of tapping and swiping much like an iPhone. Fast and effective, the touchscreen can be locked/unlocked by leaving your finger in the top right corner until the “Lock” Icon is enabled to prevent accidental changes. I was amazed at how I could set Look presets in camera then further dial down the image in Cine-X; having RAW allows for the utmost creativity.

We finished the 2-Hour Shoot with one 64GB SSD, exposed 24 clips that summed up to 43GB of sweet sweet Scarlet footage. Chasing the light is never fun but the crew knew what we where up against so we shot non-stop. Everything happened so fast we where amazed at how many set-ups we where able to squeeze in. Feel free to click bellow at the screen shots to see them in full-res. The wide shot on the bottom is on the ZE 21mm wide open at 4K.

Lens where provided by On-Airstreaming.com and we used a set of ZE Primes, 21mm f2.8_35mm f1.4_50mm f1.4_85mm f1.4. As for filters HOYA ND 8 & CIR POLA except for 21mm (no mattebox or hood).

While Exposing I stayed between 320ASA and 640ASA. The high speed is done at F2.8_640ASA_225 Deg Shutter (60fps) & 180 Deg Shutter (48fps). All the 4K shots where at f3.2_90 Deg Shutter_320ASA. When shooting I enabled 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio frame guide which was then cropped in Cine-X along with first pass color then converted to ProRes 422. Final Color and Edit where cut on FCP 6 . I did it with a four year old laptop in two days of editing/transcoding. By only converting selective portions of a the clips it shaved loads of time rather than converting all the files.

More Pictures Here

Wrap-Up:

I couldn’t be more thankful, happy, privileged to be apart of a new movement.

Thank You Red Team!