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Sony FS5 II, Canon C700 FF, Pocket Cam 4K, Fuji X-H1 + More From Day 1 At NAB

I just got back from an exhausting day on the floor at NAB, but wanted to share some quick thoughts and first impressions while everything is still fresh. I’ll be rolling out more NAB content throughout the week, delving into a lot more detail on all the big news and announcements, but for now here are some first impressions –

Let’s start with Blackmagic’s announcement of the Pocket Camera 4K, which undeniably made the biggest splash when it was unveiled earlier today. This was no surprise, as filmmakers have been clamoring for an update to the original Pocket Camera for years, and today that wish came true.

The new Pocket Camera not only shoots 4K, but has a larger sensor (Four Thirds), an MFT mount, Mini-XLR input, CFast/SD slots + the ability to record externally via USB-C to hard drives, dual ISO settings for incredible low-light performance, a 5″ touchscreen monitor, and much more. It’s also a much larger camera, resembling a DSLR more than the previous Pocket Camera.

I think the body style of the camera is actually ideal, as many Pocket Camera shooters are working on guerrilla productions, and the DSLR-style form factor when paired with stills lenses will likely help filmmakers fly under the radar when shooting in public. For $1295, it looks like this camera will be a steal.

Another announcement that caught my attention was the FS5 II from Sony, priced at $4750. The new version mainly brings incremental changes to the camera, and if it weren’t for one specific feature update I probably wouldn’t be highlighting it here today… But Sony revealed they have integrated the color science from their high end Venice cinema camera into the new FS5 II, and that gets me excited.

The one and only reason I’ve never been a Sony fan is because of their color science, so for me this is quite a big deal. While I haven’t had a chance to shoot with the FS5 II yet, I am optimistic about the path Sony is taking. By making it clear that color is a priority in their FS5 II, it tells me Sony is listening and for that reason  alone I hope they succeed.

They have heard the complaints about poor colors from their customers for too long now, and it seems like they’re finally trying to make big strides to address those concerns… If they hit the mark this time, I just might finally give Sony another look.

And then there was Canon. Unsurprisingly, there weren’t any updates to their DSLRs or the most popular C-series cameras, and their flagship product this year was the Full Frame version of their highest end cinema camera – C700 FF. I had a chance to play with the camera and speak to a couple of Canon reps about it, and really there isn’t all that much to write home about.

It’s essentially the same camera as the original C700 but with a bigger sensor, and I’m not sure if this is good or bad… I still don’t really know who the C700 is meant for (it’s too cumbersome for most indie productions but can’t quite compete with Arri or RED), so I’m not sure the new sensor will be what popularizes this camera.

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but it’s really a shame Canon still hasn’t listened to the countless filmmakers out there asking for more solid options on the consumer/prosumer level gear. With some minor tweaks and a few new features, cameras like the C200 or 5D MK IV could be dominating the world of filmmaking. But they just aren’t. And more and more people keep moving away from Canon every day (maybe not photographers, but certainly cinematographers), and I’m not sure how many are left.

If Canon wants to win any of their former customers back, I don’t think the way to do it is by going after the high end market with a $33,000 camera. Maybe that’s not their goal at all, but if it’s even a remote consideration I hope to see more emphasis go back into their more accessible, affordable offerings. It might be a lost cause by now, but who knows!

Moving on, let’s talk about Fuji’s X-H1. This camera (which I shared some thoughts on here) is one that I have been eager to see in person, but haven’t had a chance to until today. As an X-T2 owner, I am always rooting for Fuji and eager to see what they have up their sleeves.

While the X-H1 isn’t intended to replace the X-T2, it may as well be. The camera is only $300 more than the X-T2 ($1899), and includes virtually all the features that the X-T2 lacks, including: In-body stabilization, internal F-log recording at up to 200 Mb/s, full DCI 4K, and my favorite – the Eterna film simulation.

One of the reasons I love Fuji is for their color science, and the Eterna film simulation takes things to another level. Not only can it reproduce the colors of the Eterna film stock extremely accurately (lower saturation, beautiful contrast ratios, etc.), but it does so without sacrificing any dynamic range. In other words, whether shooting in F-Log or with the Eterna simulation, you still have access to the sensor’s entire spectrum of DR.

Right before I left the show today, I took a quick peak at the new 6K MAVO Cinema Camera from Kinefinity, which was quite interesting too… The camera comes in two versions, the standard MAVO and a Large Format version. The latter (full frame version) doesn’t have a price on it yet, but the Super 35 version is $8000, which seems extremely reasonable considering the feature set. In many ways, these cameras are the closest you can get to the RED experience without actually buying a RED. The form factor is nearly identical, and the philosophy behind the cameras seems to be similar – lots of pixels, modular bodies, etc.

Kinefinity was also showing off their new MAVO Large Format Cinema Lenses, which are priced aggressively at only $2500 a pop. From what I saw, the lenses weren’t incredible optically, and they were a little sticky/finicky to work with, but nonetheless I admire the attempt. If Kinefinity keeps upping the ante each year, they may eventually start to give the bigger players a run for their money.

I think that’s about it for now! As I mentioned at the top of this post, I’ll be sure to do some more detailed updates throughout the week, so be sure to check back soon…

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About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

10 Comments

  • Talia
    April 10, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    I got to handle a friend Fujifilm X-H1 and as much as I have been a Fujifilm shooter since the X-T1, I have been disapointed by the X-H1 for its video specs. First you don’t have separate settings from photo and video, so if you shoot photos using the shutter speed and ISO dials, when switching to video you have to get those dials on automatic (A) so the camera actually shoots at a 180° shutter angle and benefit from auto ISO in video. Second, Auto ISO in video is not stepless; it has increments. Third, the IBIS is jiterry in video. So the X-H1 is basically not a gorilla type video camera. Much more adequate for narrative filming situations.

    Noam, the Pocket Cam 4K having a 4/3 sensor, does it mean it now has a 2X crop factor, and not almost 3 as in the previous model?

    Talia

    Reply
    • Peter Price
      April 15, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      I currently own a X-H1 and wanted to make a few notes regarding stills and video not having separate settings. That’s actually not true. This was a limitation with the X-T2, but with the X-H1, they have a feature called Movie Silent Control. What this feature does is allow you to keep your dials set for photo mode, and when you switch over to video there is a touch screen section where you an customize your ISO, shutter, etc, INDEPENDENT of the dials on the camera. In fact when this mode is turned on, the dials and aperture ring of the lens are bypassed, until you switch back to a photo mode. So essentially you do have the ability to have independent settings between photo and video which I use all the time! 🙂
      In regards to ISO, generally you don’t want to shoot AutoISO in video. One of my best friends is a Oscar nominated documentary DP, and shoots run and gun, in the most dangerous parts of the world, and never puts his cameras on autoISO, because he doesn’t trust the autoISO functions of any camera.
      Lastly I’ve tested IBIS on a number of cameras and have come to realize that this function is VERY limited. And there are certain movements that you have to avoid otherwise you get the jittery effect. IBIS is not meant to replace a gimble, but is more designed to reduce or eliminate handheld vibrations. To get true smooth camera movements while walking, you really need a Gimble. IBIS is also very advantageous when using it for lowlight photography. For instance you can get your shutter speed down to 1/5th of a second, handheld and still produce sharp images which is amazing and also what I see as a work around to low light limitations on crop sensors.
      I do think you’re right, though that there is still some work to be done with this camera, especially in the area of autofocus, but I do feel it is a very capable camera for video and a solid start from Fujifilm, especially in comparison to something like a 5D Mark IV!

      Just wanted to chime in my 2-cents, since I have the camera and currently use it for video.

      Reply
      • Talia
        April 21, 2018 at 1:01 am

        Indeed the “Movie Silent Control” setting on the last page of the movie tab allows to have an independant set of movie controls from the physical dials. Thanks for sharing!

        As for the autofocus in video, apparently a firmware update is coming in May. We’ll see!

        Reply
      • Noam Kroll
        May 4, 2018 at 7:37 pm

        Thank you so much for the detailed note, Peter. Very helpful and I appreciate you sharing it here.

        Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      May 4, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the X-H1 – appreciate your point of view! As for the new pocket cam, you are correct that the crop factor is now down to 2x (approximately), and can be even less when paired with a speed booster.

      Reply
  • Susan Berger
    April 11, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Noam! once again, I would never see this kind of information first hand! Thank you, because I know that I am getting angles from your, expertise. I am fully trying to raise money to buy something good and less expensive as the big dogs. I am a person with M.S. who is trying to do my own thing and support my self and not give up on me! Check me out: http://susanbergerproduction.com My prices will drop almost 1and a half times. Noam, please, please can you help me find affordable equipment with good video dynamics. I really need help badly!

    For any help that you can give to me thank you! Good job Noam!!

    Reply
  • Dan Tubalev
    April 16, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Great piece of information Noam! Looking forward to your detailed updates on this.

    Reply

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