Affordable kit that’s well worth the money TOPVALUE LED LIGHTS
The compact fp L with a 61-megapixel XL sensor SUPER SIGMA MIRRORLESS
Fast file converter for Apple’s NLE FCPRAW PLUG-IN
JULY/AUGUST 2021 @ProMoviemaker
TESTED THEALL-ROUND MASTERYOF PANASONIC GH5 II
Why cages, rigs & baseplates are must-buys BASIC NEEDS GET A GRIP The new wave of blazing-fast SSDs investigated SPEEDY STORAGE INSTANT RECALL LOADS OF THE LATEST GEAR PUT TO THE TEST
The DJI Air 2S drone tested and rated Canon’s tempting new EOS R3 mirrorless
The monopod that broke the internet!
WINGING IT The new Panasonic GH5 II won’t instantly make a pro filmmaker out of a wannabe, but it might inspire you to greater things
The ultimate magazine for next generation filmmakers
Editor in chief Adam Duckworth Chief sub editor Alex Bell Sub editors Elisha Young, Matthew Winney EDITORIAL ADVERTISING Group ad manager Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457 email@example.com Senior sales executive Jemma Farrell-Shaw firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN Design director Andy Jennings Design manager Alan Gray Senior designer Lucy Woolcomb Middleweight designer Emily Lancaster Designer Emma Di’Iuorio Designer and ad production Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck MEDIA SUPPORTERS AND PARTNERS OF:
It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. Of course, we all know that’s the truth – once your equipment reaches a certain quality threshold. You’re not going to shoot a Netflix mega series on an iPhone 7, though. But if you can’t create a great film on a Panasonic GH5, then buying the newMark II won’t suddenly transform your work. However, its tech might help a bit. What lovely new kit can give you is a big boost in creativity and passion to push your filmmaking to even greater heights. This struck home recently. Outside of Pro Moviemaker , I work as part of a four-man crew of freelancers who shoot commercial work, largely for motorcycle clients. While it would be nice if all of us had the exact same cameras and lenses, and we could use the same settings, that’s never the case with a group of owner-operators. It’s a mixed bag of cameras: full-frame mirrorless, Super 35 cinema and some Micro Four Thirds mirrorless. Add in the visible differences between variable ND filters and it becomes even worse. Mixing them all together in post is a nightmare. But now the step towards consistent kit is finally happening: three of us have the same main camera and ND filter. It’s all because I was using a loaner test camera on a shoot, and the crew fell in love with the look of the footage, the colours and the capabilities of the kit. It doesn’t really matter which camera, as there is an abundance of incredibly capable equipment on the market right now. So, credit cards were flexed, and the main three camera ops in our crew now have the exact same camera and main lenses, which is great for post. But what it really has done is enthused everyone with the capabilities of the new camera/lens/ND combo. Every one of us has been out doing test shoots (as any pro should with a new bit of kit) – but as well as standard tests of focus performance, noise and the like, it’s driven all of us to try out new and creative shots. IBIS has been pushed to new levels for handheld operation. Night-time work in low light has been experimented with more than ever. Fast frame rates and speed ramping in post have been boosted. A couple of the guys even took special trips, just to shoot things for fun and try new techniques – and in the first real job we did together, the difference in the filmwas noticeable. If it takes the purchase of a new bit of kit to fuel your creativity and recharge your batteries, then it’s money well spent in my book.
Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ
Pro Moviemaker is published bimonthly by Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3HJ. No part of this magazine can be used without prior written permission of Bright Publishing Ltd. ISSN number: 2045-3892. Pro Moviemaker is a registered trademark of Bright Publishing Ltd. The advertisements published in Pro Moviemaker that have been written, designed or produced by employees of Bright Publishing Ltd remain the copyright of Bright Publishing Ltd and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Prices quoted are street prices. In sterling they include VAT but US dollar prices are without local sales taxes. Prices are where available or converted using the exchange rate on the day the magazine went to press.
ADAM DUCKWORTH, EDITOR IN CHIEF
The ultimate magazine for next generation filmmakers
JULY/AUGUST 2021 CONTENTS
AGENDA 6 CANON’S SPORTS SUPERSTAR
The mirrorless EOS R3 is setting new standards for fast-paced work, with special autofocus tracking modes for motor sport and a blackout-free viewfinder for uninterrupted shooting. 8 PANASONIC’S L-MOUNT NIFTY 50! Lumix’s full-frame range now includes a good-value 50mm prime lens. There’s also a professional 26-inch 4K HDR monitor you can afford, and big changes at G-Technology, with the SanDisk name taking over. 10 ATOMOS SHINOBI GOES LARGE Discover the latest seven-inch touchscreen monitor that’s perfect for larger cameras. Plus, news about the big date switch for the IBC Show in Amsterdam and a cool newmultifunction LED light fromNanlux. 12 SONY’S AERIAL ASSAULT The Airpeak S1 is the world’s smallest drone that can handle a full-size Alpha mirrorless camera for uncompromising video quality. Plus, the powered monopod that thinks it’s a slider!
AUDIO 16 TESTING, TESTING!
We put a glut of the latest audio equipment under the microscope, to see if it works wonders in improving your sound quality. Frommics to wireless audio, wind muffs and XLR mixers, check out the latest gear.
ACADEMY 26 GO FOR A FAST DRIVE!
With cameras producing more data at faster speeds, it’s time to get serious about speedy SSDs – that can handle everything from 8K, to ProRes Raw and 240fps. We investigate the hows and whys of flash-based memory. 32 CAGE FIGHTERS Turning your camera into a production-ready tool usually means bolting on a plethora of accessories – whether that’s monitors and audio kit, or follow-focus units and matte boxes. Here are some of the best rigs and cages you should be investing in.
The ultimate magazine for next generation filmmakers
GEAR 34 MINI TESTS
The iFootage monopod that’s set the world of YouTube alight; a do-it-all powerbank that can run a cinema camera; Litepanel’s new two-in-one LED light; and the retro-style Sigma prime lens. 42 TAKE TWO FOR LUMIX GH5 Panasonic’s GH5 has had a significant upgrade. We put the Mark II through its paces and fall in love with the easy streaming tech and huge choice of codecs. The images are shockingly good, too... 50 SIGMA’S FP L UPGRADE It’s perhaps the world’s quirkiest camera, but has some serious image-making credentials. The Sigma fp L shoots Raw video internally and now packs a 61-megapixel sensor for super-detailed stills. 54 THE AFFORDABLE PRO DRONE A large-sensor camera in a consumer-style drone could be the answer to high-quality footage for independent filmmakers. The new DJI Air 2S delivers an incredible standard, at a price that’s hard to ignore. 56 BUYERS’ GUIDE: BUDGET LIGHTING If you don’t want to spend a fortune, you can still buy professional-quality lighting. We check out the LEDs that cost less than you might think. 42
Canon EOS R3 targets motor sport shooters C anon has revealed further details of its forthcoming high- speed, professional mirrorless camera, the EOS R3. Headline
features include next-level object- tracking autofocus, including a setting for motor sport cars and motorbikes, and oversampled 4K video recording. The camera will use a full-frame, stacked, CMOS back-illuminated sensor, which Canon says is its own design, although so far only Sony has produced and sold stacked sensors. This provides a superfast readout to minimise rolling shutter problems – and offer continuous still-image shooting at speeds up to 30fps with full Dual Pixel CMOS AF tracking and autoexposure, with no viewfinder lag or blackout. This works for stills and video. Autofocus has been a big part of the camera’s development, including Eye Control, which means the initial area for autofocus tracking is activated by simply looking directly at the subject through the viewfinder. With Eye Control and Servo AF activated, the camera will focus on, and track, moving subjects at that location in the frame. When Face Detect + Tracking is active, the camera will continue to follow moving subjects around the active AF area. When recording 5.9K Raw or 4K/UHD internally, 2K and Full HD output is now supported over the 12G-SDI terminal, allowing further compatibility with external HD monitors. Simultaneous output for monitor out and HDMI are also now available. The EOS C70 has had Whole Area AF added to existing large/small frame size options. When using the Whole Area AF mode, Touch Tracking can be initiated, simply by touching the LCD screen. The EF-EOS R 0.71x Mount Adapter, when used with the EOS C70, will also see expanded lens support, with seven new EF lenses. Canon’s CN-E18-80mm and CN-E70- 200mm lenses are now supported via the EF to EOS R Mount Adapter, too.
FIRMWARE BOOST FOR VIDEO GEAR The Canon EOS C70, EOS C500 Mk II and EOS C300 Mk III cameras, as well as the EF-EOS R 0.71x Mount Adapter and CN-E18-80mm and CN-E70-200mm cinema lenses, have been upgraded with free firmware. The EOS C500 Mark II can now record in into live production workflows, alongside Canon’s PTZ solutions. The EOS C500 Mk II and C300 Mk III now
support Look 3D LUT functionality. Users of these cameras, plus C70s, will get ITU BT.709 standard gamma option, with BT.709 Standard assigned to Custom Picture Profile.
4:3 and 6:5 aspect ratio while the camera is in full-frame sensor mode in Cinema Raw Light. In addition to 2x or 1.33x anamorphic desqueeze options, the EOS C500 Mk II and C300 Mk III now feature a 1.8x option. Both these cameras also benefit from Canon’s original, IP-based XC Protocol for remote control from Canon’s RC-IP100 unit. This feature provides control of the zoom, focus, iris, gain adjust and white balance to integrate cinema EOS cameras
cameras, this hints that the camera might take CFexpress Type A cards, as they can use the same slot as SDs, as found in the Sony A7S III and A1 mirrorless cameras. The camera will have three control dials – one on the front grip, one on the top-plate behind the shutter button, and a third on the back. The EOS R3 will also have AF joysticks and infrared smart controllers, like the EOS-1D X Mark III. The EOS R3 is also equipped with a vari-angle screen and has built-in wired LAN socket and 5GHz Wi-Fi for communication with computer networks, laptops and mobile devices. The EOS R3 is also compatible with the Canon Mobile File Transfer app. Details of price or availability aren’t currently known, but it’s likely that prototypes will be used in the Tokyo Olympics at the end of July. “Autofocus has been a big part of the camera’s development, including Eye Control”
Alongside the new motor sport setting, the camera will have people, animals and birds AF tracking technology, which is found in the EOS R5 and R6. And AF still at light levels of -7EV. In low light, the EOS R3 offers up to eight stops of protection against camera shake, with Canon’s combined Image Stabiliser (IS) technology. The sensor- shift IS works in tandem with the optical IS built into many RF mount lenses. The camera will record oversampled 4K and Raw video footage internally, with Canon Log 3 gamma included to maximise dynamic range. Canon says the magnesium-alloy body of the EOS R3 features dust and water resistance to the same level as the EOS-1D X professional DSLRs. Additionally, it uses the same LP-E19 battery as Canon’s EOS-1D X Mark III. Also, there will be dual card slots to allow files to be written to SD or CFexpress memory cards. Although Canon has used the larger CFexpress Type B cards in other
NIKON’S Z MOUNT GLASS GROWS Nikon has unveiled four new lenses for its full-framemirrorless range of cameras – two 1:1 macro optics for Z mount and a pair of compact primes. The £999/$999 ZMC 105mm f/2.8 VR S is a professional macro lens, while the £649/$649 ZMC 50mm f/2.8 is a lightweight, versatile lens that’s ideal as an entry point into close-up imagemaking. The 105mmoptic is built for macro shooting in stills or video, but its medium-telephoto angle of view alsomakes it ideal for portraiture. It has a rounded 9-blade aperture, and Nikon’s anti-reflective ARNEO and nano crystal coatings combat ghosting and flare. In-lens Vibration Reduction (VR) is combined with in-camera VR for steady, handheld shots. Themount and all moving parts are sealed to keep dust andmoisture out, while Nikon’s fluorine coating repels water and dirt. The Z 28mm f/2.8 and Z 40mm f/2 are small, lightweight prime lenses, scheduled for release later this year. The 28mm is amedium-speed wide angle, but the Z 40mm is a standard lens with excellent bokeh. nikon.co.uk
Vocas cures Sony FX6 issue Vocas has engineered a clever solution
to eliminate the play between the LCD monitor and the camera body of the Sony FX6 cinema camera. The new Vocas FX6 LCD monitor support eliminates unwanted movement without any modifications to the camera, as it just bolts on. It works with the original Sony loupe or a third-party monitor. The support can be mounted on to the monitor and is then attached to the Sony handgrip. Themonitor can’t move or slide, and its position can be changed via a wing nut, designed for one-handed operation. The FX6 LCD monitor support can be bought as a separate unit or in a kit,
together with the Vocas Sony 8T to 15mmviewfinder bracket. This replaces the original Sony viewfinder bracket to ensure an evenmore stable connection. vocas.com
G-Technology rebrands as SanDisk Professional
there’s the Pro-Doc, a new four-bay docking station that can enable up to four simultaneous cardoffloads. Plus, anew4TB G-Drive ArmorLock-encrypted NVMe SSD. The G-Technology range of rugged portable drives, desktop RAIDs and hard drives will continue, but rebranded as SanDisk Professional. westerndigital.com
card with video recording at a minimum of 400MB/s. Another addition is the Pro-Reader series of four memory card readers, featuring a USB-CTM interface that supports SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps. They are designed to work with latest media, including CFast, CFexpress, RED Mini- Mag, CF,microSDandSDcards. Inaddition,
The award-winning G-Technology range of professional hard drives and SSDs has been rebranded as SanDisk Professional. Althoughtheoverall brandwill change, the drives will still use the G-Technology logo. There’s also the launch of a range of new products, including the Pro-Cinema CFexpress VPG400, which is a new, professional-grade, rugged CFexpress
You will never get your colours right if you use a low-spec monitor, so take a look at this professional 27-inch BenQ SW271C 4K IPS screen. It’s a £1298/$1499 16-bit panel with 99% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB/Rec. 709 colour space, with accurate colour reproduction and HDR, alongside 24/25/30p video format support. It also produces 90% of DCI-P3/Display P3, and allows use of 16-bit 3D LUTs for an easier and more accurate workflow. This means you can preview the HDR effect during post with HDR10 and HLG formats. Film content can be displayed at native cadence, without pull-down to prevent playback distortion. The unit also has a USB-C port for high-speed video and data transmission – and 60W power delivery with a single cable. benq.com MONITOR IN 4K WITH 27-INCH BENQ
The £429/$449 Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 is a standard prime for Panasonic’s full-frame mirrorless cameras. It’s the newest addition to the series of four lenses, all featuring a common size and position of controls for easy adjustment on a gimbal or swapping between rigs. The 50mm f/1.8 has nine elements in eight groups, with three aspherical lenses, one extra- low dispersion and one ultra-high refractive lens. The three aspherical elements, combined with a nine-bladed circular aperture, give smooth bokeh, while theED lens suppresses chromatic aberration. To make it more suitable for video, the aperture ring has what Panasonic calls ‘micro-step control’ for smooth exposure changes. It weighs just 300g/0.66lb, focuses down to 450mm/17.7in, and has a rugged dust- and splash-resistant design. New 24mm and 35mm f/1.8 lenses are under development to join the current optics. panasonic.com/uk PANASONIC’S L-MOUNT NIFTY FIFTY
SCREEN JOY A professional monitor like this 4K BenQ makes editing a pleasure, as it’s accurate and built for the job
Shinobi goes large!
Aussie monitor giant Atomos has unveiled the Shinobi 7 – a lightweight, seven-inch monitor-only display, with the same functions as the original five-inch Shinobi. It’s ideal for users of larger cameras who want to keep weight down, and aren’t looking to record to an external device. The £714/$699 Shinobi 7 has a peak brightness of 2200 nits and is ideal for a director’s or focus puller’s monitor, preview display for video switchers, or for vloggers. It can be used with the Z Cam E2 camera, providing direct control of all menus. There are additional USB and RJ45 control ports to provide support for future developments. The screen displays 10+ stops of dynamic range in real time from Log/PQ/HLG signals. Combined with HDR monitoring features, the Shinobi 7 simplifies shooting Log and HDR, while the adaptive cooling mode lets you prioritise reduced fan noise or the peak brightness of the display. You can use your own custom 3D LUTs to feed downstream to other devices or live feed. Up to eight custom LUTs can be uploaded via SD card. Dual slots allow easy hot-swapping of batteries and a dedicated locking DC jack input delivers mains power. An optional DC to D-Tap cableprovidespower fromV-Lockbatteries. With the new Analysis feature, you can now simultaneously see what you are shooting while viewing a waveform, histogram and vectorscope. atomos.com
The Nanlux Evoke 1200 is a new 1.2kW LED light. It can be used as everything from a fresnel to a spotlight, or a soft source of controllable, flicker-free light by using different modifiers. The power is comparable to the output of an 1.8kW PAR or 2.5kWHMI fresnel, claims Nanlux. Available in both 5600K and Tungsten 3200K models, the £3358/$3380 Evoke 1200 features an interchangeable optics system, allowing the output to be easily modified for different looks. It’s dimmable from 0-100% in intervals of 0.1%, and features a selection of on-board creative effects including flash, pulse, storm, paparazzi, candle, firework, explosion and welding. The intuitive user interface has a 2.8-inch display. It supports wired and wireless operation via Nanlink app, DMX/RDM, Bluetooth and Lumenradio TimoTwo. Dual power and battery options further extend the flexibility of the system. nanlux.com KEY FEATURES: • IP54 rated • Fresnel, reflector, softbox, lantern options • Output equivalent to 1.8kW PAR or 2.5kW HMI fresnel • Selection of customisable preset effects • Wireless and DMX connectivity NANLUX LED SURE TO IMPRESS
IBC2021 MOVES TO DECEMBER
The annual IBC broadcast and video show has been moved from its traditional September date to 3-6 December, allowing businesses to prepare safely in the wake of Covid. The event is one of the world’s biggest media industry trade shows, held annually in Amsterdam. Last year’s IBC was axed due to the pandemic, and it was initially announced the event would be held in September this year – making it one of the first big trade shows in Europe. However, organisers have moved it to a later date
Las Vegas in the spring, is currently pencilled in for 9-13 October. ibc.org nabshow.com
to ensure exhibitors and visitors have time to make additional preparations. Meanwhile, NAB Show, which is normally held in
Sony’s aerial assault
S ony has revealed its first- ever professional drone, the Airpeak S1. It’s claimed to be the world’s smallest UAV that can be equipped with a full-size Alpha mirrorless camera, such as the A7S III. Expected to be the first of a new line of Sony drones, the Airpeak S1 uses Sony’s own motors, propellers, control system and sensing technology. It also includes obstacle detection and automatic flight control – and can fly at up to 55mph and be used in winds up to 45mph. Stereo cameras equipped with sensors are installed in the front, back, left, right and bottom of the aircraft. A processor uses this information to plot position and orientation in real time, enabling stable flight – even in environments where GNSS (global navigation satellite system) reception may be hindered, such as indoors or under bridges. The drone is controlled via the Airpeak Flight app on iOS devices. This integrates the aircraft, transmitter, camera and gimbal, allowing the operator to monitor flight distance and remaining battery power, as well as change various operations and settings on the screen. There is also a dual operation mode, so that one user can operate the drone, while another can work the gimbal and camera simultaneously, all while checking
allows for advanced flight plans to be created, so the drone can automatically fly along the same route repeatedly. The Airpeak S1 is compatible with Sony A7, A9 and A1 series cameras, as well as the FX3, but these aren’t included with the drone –which will cost $9000 when it goes on sale in autumn. No UK price has been set yet. The drone comes with two pairs of propellers, a remote controller, two batteries and a charger. A third-party gimbal, made specifically for the Airpeak S1, will be sold separately.
TAKING FLIGHT The new Airpeak drone houses a Sony mirrorless camera for ultimate quality
the same image. A first-person view camera, which can be tilt-operated from the remote controller, is mounted on the nose of the aircraft – which is useful for when the operator needs to check the direction of the drone. A new Airpeak Base web application means users can monitor hardware use, create flight plans and manage flight logs. It also
THE ELECTRIC MONOPOD!
length of 1180mm, and is controlled by buttons on the body or Moza’s Master app, via a smartphone. This enables control of the monopod when used as a motorised slider, such as for precise movements at variable speeds and preprogrammedmovements. As a monopod, it has a rigid carbon fibre body and three-legged support stand. It weighs 1460g/3lb and charges via a USB-C port. It costs £350/$499. gudsen.com
If you thought monopods couldn’t get any more technical, check out the new three-in-one, electronically controlledMoza Slypod Pro. It is the world’s first electronically height-adjustable monopod, that also works as a powered slider and jib arm. The clamp that fits to the top of a tripod can be used as a motorised slider, which is internally geared tomake the motion smooth. Tilt the tripod head, and it’s a jib. The monopod extends out 530mm, for a total
FUJIFILM ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE
The versatile option DOP Ash Connaughton puts the GFX100S through some real-world tests
F ujifilm’s GFX100S stills and video hybrid camera might be small and very affordable, but it has incredible spec, with a 102-megapixel medium format sensor that is larger, at the 16:9 ratio, than Arri’s Alexa 65. And the whole £5499 camera weighs only 900g/1.98lb. So, I was very excited to get my hands on it for a new project I was shooting with director, Jay Mansell. The premise was a single-take tracking shot of an actress delivering a longmonologue. For the shoot I had inmind, I really wanted to portray the subject to appear isolated within a larger world. I knew a large format camera, such as REDMonstro or Sony Venice, could give me this look, but I just wanted something a bit more and my budget was not going to stretch to the Alexa 65. The GFX100S seemed like the perfect option, plus I could forgomy gimbal and test the new camera’s in-body image stabilisation and autofocus. The shot was relatively simple, withme walking backwards and handholding the camera in a makeshift rig, as the actress
walked towards me. I used a GF80mm f/1.7 lens, which is the world’s fastest medium format lens and gives about the same angle of view as a 63mmon full frame, and 45mmon Super 35, so it was relatively tight for a walking handheld shot. The lens has nine rounded diaphragm blades for smooth bokeh and is very sharp, even when shooting wide open. It’s also weather-sealed, like the body. A compact set-upmeant shooting was quick and easy, being able to pick up the camera and go. The IBIS on the GFX100S is rated for 6EV of shake and did a stellar job of stabilising wobble. The footage wasn’t quite gimbal smooth, but did an excellent job of smoothing things out. Should you want a more traditional handheld feel, you can easily disable IBIS in the camera menu. I shot just shy of wide open at f/2 and, despite it being so shallow, the focus fall-offwas smooth and gradual, and the AF proved very reliable. Overall, the AF and IBIS of the GFX100S is exceptional and totally usable for smooth handheld tracking, making it excellent for
PRO QUALITY The camera and lenses are built to withstand the tough conditions a professional often has to work with
ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE FUJIFILM
“The huge GFX100S sensor performed amazingly in exterior and interior locations”
Sensor size (102MPStill): 43.8x32.9mm Sensor size (UHD4K16:9): 43.8x25.5mm(�50.05mm) Max.movie resolution: UHD4K/30p, DCI 4K/30p, FullHD/60p Movie compression: All-Intra, LongGOP, uncompressed Formats: 12-bit Raw* 10-bit 4:2:2 F-Log/HLG/ FujifilmMotionPicture Simulation LUTs output overHDMI. 10-bit 4:2:0 F-Log/HLG/FujifilmMotionPicture SimulationLUTs internal recording *AtomosNinja V able to encode into 12-bit Apple ProRes Raw Connections: USB-C,micro HDMI, 3.5mmheadphone, 3.5mm microphone, 2.5mmremote release, wireless, Bluetooth Storage: 2xUHS-II SDcards Dimensions (wxhxd): 150x104.2x87.2mm Weight: 900g/1.98lb including battery andmemory card
run-and-gun filming with a compact set- up. To push the camera evenmore, I tested it indoors and out, and tried lots of settings. It records up to 10-bit 4:2:0 400mbps H.265 footage internally and up to 17x9 DCI 4K 4096x2160 at 29.97p. The UHD 16x9 3840x2160mode actually uses more of the sensor area than the 4K DCI, so is less prone tomoire. It also has better image quality overall and is the video format Fujifilm recommend for best video performance. The GFX100S offers 50 and 59.94p at 2K DCI 2048x2160 and Full HD 1920x1080. The camera can also output 12-bit Raw at 4K/30p over HDMI, which the Atomos Ninja V (and newNinja V+) can encode into 12-bit Apple ProRes Raw. I used this for another project, The Heart Asunder . This filmwas shot as one continuous take, outside in natural daylight on a FujifilmGF80mm lens at f/2, ISO 800 recorded internally in 4K UHD sensor mode at 25fps. To bring down exposure, I used a Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ultra ND 1.8, as well as a Black Supermist filter to soften the skin. The FujifilmGF lenses are very sharp,
great colour, especially in F-Logmode. As a light-gathering guzzler with excellent dynamic range, the GFX100s worked great indoors, in high contrast and darker settings. I also did the ultimate test: measuring how it performs when the only light source is a candle. I shot at 3200, 6400 and 12,800 ISO at f/1.7 on the GF 80mm lens. At 3200 ISO, the footage is totally usable and very clean. It’s noisier at 6400 ISO, but not to the point where noise reduction would be inconvenient. At 12,800 ISO, the noise was muchmore visible, though, as you’d expect. But, overall, I was blown away by the image quality of the GFX100S, especially with its internal codec –which holds up, even in F-Log. This Fujifilm camera is something really special.
which is perfect for stills, but inmy opinion, toomuch for video without a diffusion filter. Fujifilmoffers a wide range of Fujinon GF lenses specifically designed for the GFX. Additionally, with the PLMount adapter, the Fujinon Premista Cine Zoom lenses can also be used, as they produce an image circle large enough to cover the GFX100S sensor in UHD 4K and DCI 4Kmodes. The huge GFX100S sensor performed amazingly in exterior and interior locations, handling natural light extremely well, with SMALL WONDER The Fujifilm GFX100S is incredibly compact, so handholding is a real option, especially with IBIS
More information, email: email@example.com
SONIC WONDERS We test kit from some of the world’s leading audio brands to see who comes out on top
SOUND SENSE The indie filmmaker’s essential guide to audio – from booms to mics, transmitters to receivers WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
U nlike big-money film productions, where the sound department is staffed with specialist audio experts and their pro kit, indie filmmakers don’t just film the action – it’s down to them to make sure audio is up to scratch. You can get away with sub-par visual footage if the sound quality is excellent.
But nothing will ruin your masterpiece more than dodgy audio, no matter how good it looks. Most filmmakers have the basics of a shotgun XLR mic, lav mic, audio recorder, DSLR-type mic and some sort of sound-deadening wind muff. But as the calibre of work improves, many creatives are quick to invest in new
cameras and lenses without considering whether they need a boost to their audio. Just as there are constant improvements in camera technology, sound recording kit is advancing all the time. We take some of the newest and best audio gear on the market and put it through its paces – to check out what’s hot and what’s not.
DEITY’S AUDIO MULTI-TOOL
Deity’s new BP-TRX system is not only a digital wireless lavalier transmitter, but a single-channel receiver, pocket recorder, timecode generator and USB audio interface. It can even work as an in-ear monitor (IEM) or camera hop to allow an audio signal from a mixer to be fed into your camera. All the high-end features normally found in expensive cinema audio kit are here, at a price that corporate videographers and indie film crews can afford. At £636/$699 for a complete kit, it’s brimming with essentials. It comes with a pair of BP-TRX units – they can be bidirectional transceiver I/O for wireless transmission and reception, analogue I/O with audio recording to a microSD card, timecode I/O for post- synching and a USB digital I/O with an audio interface. Mix and match modules to adapt to the kind of shoot you are working on. There’s a major strength to this system. When using a BP-TRX unit as a wireless transmitter, with one of the included lav mics plugged in, it will send the audio signal to a wireless receiver and also record it to the internal memory card at the same time. That’s ideal if the wireless signal is dropped. You could always use the product as a standalone audio recorder, placed in a pocket with the lav mic connected to it. The set comes with Deity’s DUO-RX two-channel receiver, so the two BP- TRXs can record two audio sources to
recorded. As well as a camera hop with timecode, a single master transmitter sends audio signal from a recorder/mixer to up to four cameras, or four people wearing headphones on set. The on-board timecode box can jam to external timecode or generate and output its own. DSLR or mirrorless camera users can use the included 3.5mm TRS output cable to connect the receiver to the camera, recording a channel of wireless audio on the right side, and one of timecode on the left. This lets you save space and stay lightweight. Both XLR and 3.5mm audio cables are supplied for plugging into an audio recorder, cinema camera or mirrorless camera – all in a rugged, waterproof case. The BP-TRX operates in the 2.4GHz band and is packed with pro-level features, like the Guard Rail Analog Limiter that prevents audio from clipping. There are controls for input and output gains, selectable RF output power up to 100mW, advanced adaptive frequency hopping technology, mono/stereo mic/line inputs, XLR/3.5mm TRS/BNC connectivity and a bright OLEDmenu. There’s a long-lasting, lithium-ion rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 25 hours of constant use, and the units have solid metal bodies that won’t bruise easily. The DUO-RX receiver has two internal dipole horizontal antennae, and two external elbow antennae, allowing versatile positioning and delivering uninterrupted signal reception. It has
a single camera – ideal for interviews. The DUO-RX allows you to control them remotely, so you don’t have to adjust on the TX units constantly. With up to four BP-TRXs, each unit can operate as either a bodypack transmitter, or as a single-channel wireless receiver, full of options – ideal for small production crews that want lavalier wireless systems for three to four people at a time. For use in more lavish productions, receiver modes enable the BP-TRX to act as a wireless IEM system. This allows a director to listen in to what’s being
Lots of filmmakers use furry windshields to cut out noise when shooting outdoors. If you don’t have one, it’s almost impossible to record audio anywhere but indoors. Many mics come with their own wind muffs, wind gags, furries, dead cats – call themwhat you will. They’re designed to cut down on the horrid wind noise that ruins audio so easily. Rycote offers all sorts of wind-deadening kit, with speciality mic covers using high-tech fabrics, or even a TV-style blimp that has your mid held in a suspension unit, with windjammer, inside a large shell. These are really designed for use on a boom pole or separate stand. Are you are using the wind muff your mic came bundled with, or did you buy a knock-off on the internet? Then Rycote’s range is a must. Many standard furry covers just stretch over the mic’s original foam, but Rycote’s most popular are better – the cost-effective Classic-Softie and Short Fur Softie windshields. These are available in different lengths and diameters to fit most shotgun mics, and typically cost around £84/$99. Both have synthetic fur covers over a specially-designed acoustic foam, cutting up to 25dB of noise, without losing high-frequency audio. The Short Fur Softie is slightly smaller with a lower- profile design, ideal for use on camera-mounted mics – it’s less obtrusive and shouldn’t get in the shot. The longer-hair version is larger, better suited to boom poles, and slightly more adept at cutting down wind noise. But our rudimentary tests using a studio fan proved there wasn’t much in it. Both are great performers, and come with their own hairbrush to keep them looking good. rycote.com RYCOTE’S SOFT OPTIONS
CLASS KIT Deity’s BP-TRX system (above) isn’t just a digital wireless lavalier transmitter – open it up and see its versatility for yourself (far left)
an OLED screen and two gain-adjustable 3.5mm TRS outputs, usable in three output modes. XLR mode sends a separate audio channel as a balanced signal to each output jack, DSLR mode mixes both audio channels to one output and turns the other jack into a headphone output, while stereo mode routes a feed from each transmitter to separate outputs. Unfortunately there’s no timecode support, but the receiver has a 10-hour operating time at 100mW–more at lower settings – via an internal lithium battery. It takes about an hour to charge via a USB Type-C connection. As with units that offer this many advanced features, the menus can be a bit complicated at first. But with so much choice and excellent audio quality, it’s a low price to pay for something high-end that will last for years. deitymic.com “All the high-end features normally found in expensive cinema audio kit are here, at a price indie filmcrews can afford”
BEST BUFFERS Rycote’s Classic-Softie and Short Fur Softie (top right) are both available in different lengths and diameters to fit most shotgun mics
THAT’S AZDEN PRICE!
Audio expert Azden is making huge waves in filmmaking. Its range of excellent kit is full of the attention to detail Japanese tech firms are known for – and they won’t break the bank. We tried four different products and all were impressive performers, with great spec and innovative technology. Starting with two DSLR-style on- camera mics, the £294/$299 SMX-30V and £306/$249 SMX-30 link to your camera with a 3.5mmmini-jack. Most mics are either shotgun-style, ideal for picking out a single voice, or a pair of stereo mics great for ambient sound, outdoor events or live music. Both the Azden units have a pair of built-in stereo mics and a mono shotgun video mic, too. The biggest difference is the SMX-30’s switch that allows you to select the mono or stereo mics. But the SMX-30V also acts as a stepless mixer, using a single large knob on the back of the mic. Adjust the sound between the built-in stereo mics, the mono shotgun mic, or a mixture of the two – a unique function that brings more control to camera-top DSLR-type mics. It’s great for picking out the voice of a speaker, or capturing ambient sound in the room. The SMX-30V lasts for up to 100 hours – four times that of the SMX-30. Both mics have a +20dB gain boost switch for turning down the in-camera pre-amps, giving better quality sound. It’s a tried and tested technique for several manufacturers. There’s also a -10dB pad, in case you record in very loud places like rock gigs. A low-cut filter switch reduces frequencies below 120Hz, ideal for cutting hum from traffic, air con units or even wind.
The Beachtek DXA-Micro Pro+ connects any mic to any camera – perfect for mirrorless and DSLR cameras that don’t have XLR inputs or adjustable, multi- channel audio. For just £229/$229, connect wireless systems, camera- mounted mics, handheld or boom XLR mics to your camera with this handy device. It features a built-in XLR connector with 48-volt phantom power for using pro XLR mics, two 3.5mmmono, and one 3.5mm stereo mini-jacks with plug-in power that’s ideal for DSLR-specific mics. The sturdy DXA-Micro Pro+ has a built-in battery that works for up to ten hours, plus a micro USB jack for charging or externally powering the adapter. A removable cheese plate accepts a variety of accessories, and Beachtek offers an optional baseplate for use on a rod-based camera rig. Different input options allow one mic to plug into one input, and a second – like a wireless system– into another. Two distinct channels can now be recorded, and adjusted separately with the two large knobs on the back of the unit. Level indicator lights inform you of any peaking, too. And if you use one mic recording to both channels, one can be set at a lower gain level in case there are sudden loud noises. THE MISSING LINK
The real strength is the Beachtek’s powerful, low-noise pre-amps, which have dual gain settings and are leagues better than the in-camera amps. Drop the in-camera gain very low to reduce hiss and give a far cleaner signal. It’s easy to use, there are real knobs and switches, not complicated menus – and it really boosts your audio quality. beachtek.com
CHOICE MICS Azden’s SMX-30V (below) gives you real control – the knob on the back adjusts built-in stereo mics, the mono shotgun mic, or a combination
REAL SWITCHES The Beachtek DXA-Micro Pro+ (top) is a sturdy system, easy to use, with real knobs and switches (above), not complicated menus
GREAT SPEC Azden really impress with two DSLR-style mics, a dual-powered shotgun mic and a wireless system (above)
opposed to the standard Pro-XR for the rest of the world. The Azden system intelligently scans for interference, sending out three signals from transmitter to receiver – the best signal is chosen as the audio channel. It’s constantly monitored by the clever electronics, so any potential interference means a cleaner signal is chosen automatically. We had no signal issues at all, despite trying to provoke drop-outs by using it around corners and in busy, built-up places. They have an external antenna rather than a much smaller internal one, which puts it ahead of its peers. Each Pro-XRe comes with a smaller, flexible antenna and a high-gain antenna for increased performance. The rechargeable internal battery works for up to 21 hours, charged by USB. A decent-quality lav mic is included in the kit, and the receiver has a 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring. There’s also a 3.5mm line-level aux input you could connect to an audio mixer, and six- step adjustable output gain for tailoring to your camera. For smartphones, it comes with a mount and TRRS cable for devices with headphone jacks, and a lighting- to-headphone adapter for iOS devices. Azden’s entire range is calculated, robust and inexpensive for high-end kit. azden.com
The mics run on AA batteries, and as well as the on/off setting, there’s an auto switch that turns the mic on and off when it detects the camera’s status. That’s a great feature for those of us who sometimes forget to turn the mic on or off, killing the battery. Both come with a shock-absorbing shoe mount and a standard thread to mount the mics to a light stand. The mic can be aimed 30° left or right to more accurately point it at the speaker – a really cool feature. In terms of sound quality, both are crisp and clear and not particularly bassy. It’s a very neutral, natural sound. For use on cinema cameras, recorders or mirrorless cameras using an XLR adapter, the Azden SGM-250 is a £324/$249 dual-powered shotgun mic. It’s part of Azden’s Ni-Go-Maru series – ‘250’ in Japanese – and is a range of four professional XLR shotgun mics featuring top-class build at an affordable price.
We tested the flagship SGM-250, which has a newly-designed mic element and can be powered by phantom power or an AA battery. There is also the SGM-250P, slightly cheaper, but not battery-powered – it’s phantom only. The SGM-250 is just 250mm/9.8in long to suit smaller cameras, and has a solid build quality thanks to an all-metal casing. It comes complete with a shock mount and windshield – and a high-pass switch cuts out hum. In practice, it is simplicity itself, producing a really tight pattern, ideal for isolating the speaker from ambient noise. The audio is clean and sharp, as you would expect from a professional XLR mic. It’s a solid performer and well-built. Azden’s £294/$249 Pro-XRe wireless system uses a 2.4GHz frequency, employing Azden’s own technology to avoid the line-of-sight dependency of some rival units. The ‘e’ designation means it’s a European-spec unit, as
“In terms of sound quality, the SMX-30 and the SMX-30V are crisp and clear, and not particularly bassy. It’s a very neutral, natural sound”
THE GO-TWO SOLUTION!
Rode’s Wireless Go II mic system solves the age-old problem of recording two subjects via a single wireless receiver, in one streamlined and super-compact package. The kit looks like the original Wireless Go system, but now comes with a second mic and transmitter, internal recording and extended wireless range. Rode’s £279/$299 Wireless Go II transmitters have their own integrated, broadcast-quality lav mic built in, plus the capacity to plug in an external lav if you want. If wind noise is causing a problem, windjammers that bayonet on to each transmitter mic would solve it. The Wireless Go II kit has two transmitters and a receiver, a 3.5mm lead to connect to your camera or recorder, USB-C cables for charging the units, furry windshields and a neoprene case. All the units come in-sync already, but it’s easy to do. Link them up by holding in the sync button on the receiver
unit for three seconds and pushing the transmitter’s on button at the same time. The other button is for gain; cycle through 0dB, -12dB and -24dB settings. The small LCD display is clear, showing levels and peaking for both channels. As a visible warning, these go from green to orange to red as you get to peaking. The Wireless Go II features a standard 3.5mm analogue TRS output cable for cameras, and digital audio output via USB-C for smartphones and computers. Both input channels can be merged into a single channel, or kept separate for more control. Mute each channel individually by pushing a button on the receiver unit. The on-board recording on each transmitter records seven hours of uncompressed audio to its internal memory as a backup. It’s activated via the new Rode Central app, giving access to firmware updates and advanced features, like the activation of a safety channel – this records a second track at -20dB if the main channel distorts. Mono and stereo modes are offered, and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries last up to seven hours, with a recharge time of around two hours. The kit is more reliable than ever over a larger area; the range has been increased
to 200m/656ft – almost three times that of the old units. A stronger radio signal means they are less susceptible to interference over any distance at all. As you’d come to expect from Rode, the sound from the built-in omnidirectional mic is excellent, with very good low- and high-end tones. And the windjammers that clip on to the TX units cut down wind noise to great effect. If you want an even better sound, you could use more high-end lav mics, but the standard Rode units really do the job. This is as good as any indie filmmaker could need. rode.com “The RodeWireless Go II ismore reliable than ever over a larger area; the range has been increased to almost three times that of the old units”
COMPACT UNIT Rode’s newWireless Go II system (top) now comes with a second mic and transmitter, internal
recording and a wireless range
we test in this issue, that don’t have a headphone socket. The kit also works with phones, GoPro action cameras and recorders, too. So the headphone socket can be really useful. The ability to record in either one- track mono or stereo is a top feature. Recording in stereo allows you to separate the audio tracks in post and fine-tune each one in editing – a big upgrade on the old Saramonic Blink 500 that only allowed mono recording. Each of the transmitters has a built-in omnidirectional mic, giving superb audio quality. The kit comes with clip-on furry windscreens to stop wind noise – they are effective, but quite easy to lose. Feel free to use standard 3.5mm plug-in lav mics – the kit comes with two, giving sharp sound quality. The only gripes are with the charging case – it has no space for the cables you need – and the LCD screen on the TX units, which is visible to the camera when it’s in shot. The build quality is top notch, while the packaging is very high-end. In our tests, the wireless didn’t drop at all. It’s a reliable system that ticks a lot of boxes for many users – from professional filmmakers to vloggers. saramonic.com
Saramonic’s new Blink 500 Pro series lets you record audio from two different transmitters to two separate channels in mono or stereo mode, direct to one camera-mounted wireless receiver. It’s ideal for talking head interviews. The £285/$299 Blink 500 Pro B2 series kits, available in black or white, come with two transmitters to make full use of the dual-input capability. They have everything you need – lav mics and clips, windshields, cables, a case and a bag. If you don’t want the kit with two transmitters, there is a single version at just £190/$229. Similar to Apple AirPods, the transmitter and receiver fit into a charging case and have instant, single- button pairing. There’s up to eight hours of battery life, but if more is needed, the case with all kit or individual transmitters and receivers can be charged using a portable powerbank via USB-C. All units have a bright OLED screen showing battery life, waveform, pairing status – a comprehensive round-up of information. Though it’s a bit small to read the icons. The units have a 100m/328ft line-of- sight recording range and headphone jack, with independent volume control for audio monitoring. That’s really useful for some cameras, like the Sigma fp L
“Recording in stereo allows you to separate the audio tracks in post and fine-tune each one in editing– a big upgrade on the old Saramonic Blink 500”
SMALL SCREEN Each unit of the Blink 500 Pro B2 has an OLED screen with all the information you need – though not enough space to read it (below)
Why using flash-based SSDs instead of memory cards can be a safer andmore affordable solution FLASH POINT!
WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
W ith very high bit rates, huge Raw files, and 4K and 8K recording becoming more popular, managing all that data is a huge issue. The traditional route to keeping your camera kit as small as possible is to record everything on internal memory cards – but as file sizes have boomed, so has the price of memory. For example, a pair of 160GB CFexpress Type A cards for a Sony A7S III or A1 mirrorless camera cost £798/$796. Since shooting at the highest resolution can easily fill up 1TB of space, that’s a huge spend on memory cards. Even if you do use memory cards, once you have downloaded them on location, chances
boost in speed over HDDs, making ingesting footage far quicker. You can also edit directly from the drive and play it back in high resolution, without any annoying waiting time while the footage renders. If you use a small, fast SSD with a USB-C connection, you might be able to plug directly into your camera and record straight to that. Cinema cameras (like the Red Komodo) and mirrorless cameras (like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K Pro and Panasonic S1H) can write directly to a fast SSD. No memory cards needed and no ingesting to a hard drive via computer. That means it’s cheaper, faster, and there are fewer things to go wrong on location.
are you’ll need a fast drive to store them on. Old-school hard disk drives (HDDs) are cheap and have lots of capacity, but often struggle to keep up with huge amounts of data. If time is of the essence, then the speed of footage ingest can be a real issue. Nobody wants to wait around for an hour while cards are copied to a hard drive. The most popular and affordable units are rugged, portable drives, thanks to their small size and speed. Just plug into your laptop and they work – no external power needed. It’s best to use a solid-state drive (SSD), which has no moving parts, meaning it’s less vulnerable to impacts or vibration. There is also a significant
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