New Gear Syndrome: Sony a6300

It’s so hard to resist.

Just when you get to know this great piece of equipment, and you are really utilizing the features, turning out some great work… They announce a new, better version. Suddenly the camera in your hand is just junk, and you must have the new item.

That phone, that camera, that microphone that was perfectly fine before suddenly loses it’s shine.

Today Sony finally announced the update to the Sony a6000. I just got my a6000 last year. It’s an awesome camera. Mirrorless so I can adapt almost any lens to it. Full on usable unto focus in video with E Mount lenses. I loved it, right up until I read about the new Sony a6300.

Oh man, I want one. Full 4k, s log 3, 120 fps at 1080p. I didn’t even know what I was missing until this new one was announced! Still no external audio input short of an expensive Sony add on (seriously?) but a nice step up. Unfortunately, I’m not dropping $1000 on a new body just yet. I would love to make the upgrade, and I’m sure I will some time in the future, it just won’t be right now.

But so you can join me in the new desire for this new mirrorless body from Sony, here are some videos:

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Considering New Cameras: Canon EOS M3, 70D, Sony a6000

old videoI’ve got a jones for a new camera.

It all started when I was blindsided by the Europe/Asia release of the new Canon EOS M3. It’s not being released in the US, so I didn’t know it was out until a few overseas posts began slipping into my feeds. I own the EOS M, which is still the cheapest and easiest way to get into an HD camera system with great lenses.

Used, the bodies are selling for $180 now. $250 for one with the very nice 22mm f 2.0 for the EF-M mount. It shoots basic HD video resolutions with a great image quality. You can get some great depth of field and basically learn everything you need to know about lamming with this little camera.

And, besides the Canon lens eco system, because it is mirrorless, you can adapt a lot of older manual lenses to it. I came from a Pentax background, so I know some of the great old glass out there for cheap. I use a Pentax 35-70mm F4 and a Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F3.5 (both in K mount) all the time. I could never afford glass this good if it was modern Canon EF or EFS mount.

And mirrorless cameras are small. I can slide the EOS M with the 22mm lens into a loose pocket and forget it’s there. A DSLR can’t be handled that way. So the EOS M3 was very attractive, on paper at least. You can get them online from overseas places. It offers a lot of upgrades from the EOS M. They have updated almost everything except the basic video resolutions available. So that got me in the mood to swap cameras. If you remember, I changed up my camera strategy a while back.

Then I read a review from someone who had actually used the M3 to shoot video. Focus peaking, EVF, AF and more are in. But video quality has apparently taken a dive. So I looked to the Canon 70D. Again. I had decided not to get one before, but now?

It’s an APS-C DSLR with usable autofocus in video. They have come down quite a bit in price. Used ones can be had for $800. But I still don’t want to go there. The new build of Magic Lantern allows you to shoot RAW on the 70D. You can use Pentax K Mounts on these as well, with adapter. Turns out, I like the small mirrorless cameras.

2 of these little guys are regarded very highly in the world of indie filmmaking.;The Panasonic GH4 for image quality and features and the Sony A7S for low light capability. Still these bad boys will set you back quite a bit of cash. GH4- $1500, A7S- $2500 (new). All well and good, but at that price (for the A7S), I’m not far from a “real” video camera, with built in pro audio, ND filters, etc…

Then I stumbled onto the Sony a6000. It has all the features the EOS M3 has, plus better video quality and options. And can be bought for about the same price. Of course this means leaving Canon for the Sony E Mount. And those lenses are not cheap. But you can still adapt all that great old glass to it. And the built in AF looks very good.

Oh, man. I’ve already rounded up a bunch of old tech and gadgets to sell. I’m definitely going to do something. And It seems like I want to stay with a small camera. There are so many with great features now.

New EOS M3: Looks Promising

Z-canon_eos_m3-rearAngle-EVF-PRSomehow I missed the launch of the Canon EOS M3 overseas. Probably because the M2 never made it to the USA, and wasn’t much of an improvement. I own the EOS M, and love it for video. Hands down, it’s the best, most cost effective way to get into HDSLR video capture. Under $300 for a body with lens. Part of the reason it is so cheap is that it wasn’t a great still image camera. You can take some nice pictures, but it just isn’t up to par with other offerings on the market, for stills. But for a video camera? It’s great for the price.

And now the M3 is out in Asia and Europe.  Check out these specs: Canon EOS M3 UK site.

Prices from eBay are running about $600. Plus the wait time and possible customs fees to get it from Japan. There are currently no plans to bring the M3 to North America. Since you can find a 70D body for just a couple hundred more why choose the EOS M3?

Well, $200 isn’t anything to sneeze at. But there are other benefits.

1. Lenses– The mirrorless body lends itself to all sorts of lens adaptations. I have 2 Pentax K mounts I use regularly on my EOS M, and neither would work on a 70D (or any other traditional APS-C Canon camera) You can use just about any lens from any manufacturer on the EOS M mount with a cheap adapter. Canon FD, Nikon, Pentax, m42, the list goes on.

2. Autofocus for Video- The 70D changed the game for HDSLR video by adding a 19 point Phase Detection continuous autofocus system on a 20 megapixel sensor.  Suddenly you could shoot DSLR video like a camcorder, sort of. The EOS M3 has 49 points of continuous AF on a new 24 Megapixel sensor. Of course, the new AF only works with lenses that can use it, and all that old glass I mentioned before doesn’t. It does, however, have focus peaking, to help with manual focus. That is huge.

3. Size- The EOS M3 is small. Very small. Half the weight of a traditional DSLR. Less than half the size. The M3 with 22mm lens can fit in your pocket.  (Albeit a loose pocket of your jacket or pants.)

Plus, Canon has addressed a lot of the concerns of the EOS M. There is an available Electronic View Finder. The back screen, while not fully articulating, can flip out to different angles (up to 180 degrees.) And of course the new AF system puts to rest all of the complaints about slow AF in the original M.

The video record resolutions are still lacking. You can do 1080p at 30p. To record in 60p you still have to drop down to 720p. Basically, it’s the same resolutions as the original.

I have to admit, I am sorely tempted to sell my EOS M and a few other gadgets to upgrade to the EOS M3.

[Update 2] The EOS M3 has been out long enough for some folks to test something besides the still image AF. I had read that the video codec was different, and it looks like it isn’t better than the old EOS M. Disappointing. it’s bad enough to not have any improvements, but to go backward? I’ve seen some video shot with the camera on Youtube, and it’s not horrible. But reviews like the one linked give some pause about purchasing.

[Update 1] Got my hands on a manual. Saw that you can use the hdmi output while shooting. Not sure if it is clean or what resolution, but anything is an improvement.

Why I Sold my Canon 60D (New camera strategy)

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I love DSLR video. Nowhere else can you get such a narrow DOF for decent HD video for such a low price. No other camera system offers this.

But there are drawbacks. Bad audio for one. Compressed video codec for another. Basically, it’s a still camera that can do video. It can do it pretty well, but there are better video cameras out there. For more money.

I, like most indie filmmakers, can’t just go drop several thousand dollars on a new camera. But I can rent a high quality video camera that provides all the benefits of a DSLR without the drawbacks.

A Canon c100 with the new autofocus chipset can be rented for 3 days at $260. You can extend that to 2 weeks for $650. A c300 runs 2-3 times as much. That’s a big difference between paying $5000 to buy the c100. Or $14,000 to buy the c300. A Red Epic package can be rented for $1700 for 3 days, should you want one.

But what if there isn’t a budget to rent?

Enter the Canon EOS M. Canon released a mirrorless camera last year. After a poor showing and some complaints about autofocus, Canon lowered the price and updated the firmware.

You can now buy an EOS M with 22mm f2 lens for under $330. A Canon adapter can be bought to use all EF and EFS lenses. The sensor is the exact same as the one in the t4i. I just got a slightly used EOS M with 22mm f2 and the Canon EOS to M adapter for $346.

From what I have seen, the video looks great. It still has the same issues that all DSLRs have. And the same benefits. For under $350. You can actually find bodies without lenses for $250. Rumor has it another version is soon forthcoming.

So, the EOS M will replace my 60D for small shoots, and rental becomes an option for larger projects.

My New DSLR, the Canon 60D

I know the 60D isn’t really new. I have recently been searching for a new video capable DSLR. I had planned to bide my time, but frankly I found a good deal and couldn’t pass it up. I had sold my Pentax DSLR and lenses, and a few other odds and ends. I had the cash on hand, and saw a deal. I had planned at the very least to wait until a new body came out, which should in turn drive prices down on older bodies.

I settled on a Canon 60D. Not because it’s the best video DSLR ever made, but it fits my needs. It has full function video capture, and takes great pictures. And it’s available for under $1000. Since this is my personal camera, video is important, but it is also the one I’m going to be capturing family memories on.

I had been considering the Panasonic GH2, which is an incredible video camera. There are tons of advantages to it. But it finally came down to comfort with the Canon bodies (we use them at work) and access to great lenses to borrow (most of my friends shoot Canon), and comfort with still image quality from Canon. There is no store locally that carries the GH2, so I could not look at it in person. The ability to adapt all sorts of lenses to the body is great, but you do lose the auto functions. Bottom line, it would be a risk to buy it. I was able to find a 60D with some great accessories for less.

I bought a used 60D with a Canon Grip, an EF-S focusing screen and an extra battery for less than the GH2 body costs. I’m pretty excited about it.

Of course, now I’m facing the reality of Canon lens costs. I will definitely be collecting some primes. I don’t see myself dropping a grand on a zoom lens any time soon. But a “nifty fifty” is a definite. Probably an EF 28mm f2.8 as well. After that we will see. I can tell I’m going to miss throwing a $20 at an old manual lens like you can with Pentax.

Geeking Out vs. Creating

I’ve been looking for a new mid level HDSLR. So I’ve been reading the internet a lot. There’s a lot to read.

One thing that strikes me is that there are tons and tons of videos available on Vimeo and Youtube that compare the features of one video capable DSLR to another, but there are not that many simply creative videos that tell a story. Do a search on either site for any major HDSLR and you can see all the video reviews you want. But there are far fewer stories for your viewing pleasure.

It’s easy to geek out on tech specs, and shoot test videos. I’ve done it, I’ve enjoyed it. But it is much harder to carry a creative idea to completion.

My challenge to anyone reading this is to not get tied up in the technical so much. Learn to use your tools. Make them do what you need them to do. But move past the tech to using those told to create.

Don’t just Geek Out. Tell your story.

The Quest: Choosing Canon 60D or Panasonic GH2

I am on a quest. I recently sold off my Pentax gear. After years of using a great kit, I dumped it to buy a mid level DSLR capable of shooting full manual video. I am convinced that Pentax will never consider HDSLR video anything more than a hobby. But what to buy as a replacement? I’m undecided. I’m pretty much just thinking out loud here.

I am looking at a $1000 or less. I seem to have settled on either the Canon 60D or the Panasonic GH2. I am looking for full manual video control and good still image capture. of course, any interchangeable lens camera is going to look better than my Point & Shoot. I’m also not too concerned about workflow, because both have to have their native files converted for work in Final Cut.

So I’ve been reading up on the two. This review from EOSHD gives the contest firmly to the GH2. There are tons of “hacks” you can do on the GH2 to get all sorts of video effects and colors. The GH2 is generally thought of as an amazing video camera. Here is a video from EOSHD comparing it against the $10,000 Red Scarlett. The under $800 body doesn’t fair too badly.

I am still leaning toward Canon because Canon makes a lot better lenses than the 4/3s stuff. And adapters don’t translate the auto functions. So you lose all the auto focus advantage on the GH2, and the GH2s smaller sensor means longer DOF, which means harder to control DOF in our shooting situations. And I don’t think I’m going to be hacking my camera. If I had to pick right now, I’d get a Canon 60D with the 50mm f1.8 “nifty fifty” lens to start.

But the GH2 is so flexible with video. Both stock and with all of the hacks out there. And you can use almost any lens you want. The smaller mirrorless body allows you to adapt a lot of different kinds of lenses. (Pentax K, M42, Canon EF and FD, Nikon, and more.) Canon can convert some lenses too. At work we have an M42 to EOS adapter.

Part of me just wants to be different. I shot Pentax for a long time. I began to enjoy the fact that I was using a system that was not like the rest of the Canikon people. I really liked shooting something with a lens that cost under $50 that made people say, wow that’s a nice picture. But I am not sure I have the time or motivation to test the hacks and get drawn into the techno world of the GH2 community. I see a lot of test videos, and people geeking out about what you can do, more than great video projects that happen to use a GH2. Maybe the same can be said for the Canon bodies.

Being different is fun. But, if I had found a cheap Nikon way back when I got my first DSLR, I would have gotten that system. I was just looking for a DSLR under $300, and I found a Pentax *ist DS with kit lens for $295 (a great deal back then). The rest was just bonus. I’d still recommend Pentax to anyone looking to shoot on a budget that is willing to use manual controls. I never spent more than $230 on any lens in my Pentax kit. Not because all Pentax lenses are that cheap, but because you can find cheaper alternatives to the high dollar ones if you are willing to shoot manual.

So, back to this dilemma. Not sure what is on the horizon for either manufacturer. I am probably waiting a couple of months before I take the plunge, and maybe something will come out before then. Meanwhile I’m reading reviews and watching video. Weighing the options.

[Edit: I made my decision]

Changing Loyalty: Leaving Pentax for… Canon? Panasonic?

I put my entire Pentax DSLR system up for sale tonight.

I know to most people that’s not that big of a deal. And, on many levels for me, it isn’t that big either. I didn’t choose Pentax for any good reason, but I did really like the system. No other system allows you to shoot stills on a budget like Pentax. If you like manual focus, you can get amazing lenses for cheap. Using lenses from 20+ years ago was a real perk of the Pentax world. I spent the last few years assembling a collection of modern and antique lenses to cover everything from 16mm to 300mm.

So, why jump ship?

Because Pentax is never going to take video seriously. Because of my plans and dreams with the show, I eventually need a DSLR that can do full manual, full HD video. I had hoped that Pentax would come along with a great body that could use all my old lenses and give me great stills and video. But every time I turned around a new body had limited video capability. But I kept hoping.

Last week at CES, Pentax, who was recently bought by Ricoh, did not announce or release anything, even though they had a booth. And John Carlson,Senior Manager of Sales and Marketing at Pentax USA, gave an interview where he covered some of the companies views on video in DSLR:

DE: What can you say about features on video in your–either SLR or system camera lines–you were really the first to offer manual aperture control during video capture, but our sense is that since then, you’ve lagged a little bit on features. Things that are becoming common elsewhere, such as full-time auto-focus or manual audio level control. What would you like to see come to product line in terms of video?

JC: I think there’s a couple of things I’ve seen with our competitors that are very compelling, like auto-focus during video, and more manual controls of exposure during the video. However, I think what’s important is to realize that while that stuff is… would be nice to have, it’s not absolutely necessary. We’ve worked with some producers that have done some great videos that we have on our YouTube channel, that definitely show even in pretty complicated lighting situations, you can effectively use a camera like the K-5 to get good quality video. Using things that you may not think of, like the exposure lock button that will essentially let you set the exposure, things like that. Just watching some of these professional cinematographers using the different lenses to their capabilities, and realizing these guys don’t use auto-focus anyway. The true advanced cinematographers out there are doing it all manual, and planning your shot, and really thinking it out. I think you consider those things, and our cameras are definitely very capable.

DE: What’s your sense for how customers are using the video capabilities of the system cameras? This is one thing I have a question about, is how many of them are still photographers that are becoming video enthusiasts, or how many are like, you know, I’m a still photographer and I’d like to take an occasional video snapshot?

JC: You definitely see a lot of the traditional photographers almost questioning why you need video, but then you have the people that have kind of expanded their repertoire of what they can do with a camera, by realizing that you add a little movement to an image and it can add a lot. Definitely in the nature photography, you know… A still image of a snowstorm is okay, but you get a moving image of a snowstorm, a video, and it adds something totally different to it.

I had hoped that with patience Pentax would see the benefit of the large market of video professionals who use DSLRs. It seems apparent that no matter what new body Pentax releases, full manual video control is just not going to be a part of it. Video is seen as a nice way to capture video snapshots. Professionals who want to use Pentax have to trick the body, and Pentax USA is OK with that just being the way it is. That means if I wish to own a more capable DSLR for video I have to look elsewhere. And that is disappointing.

So, I’m going to leave Pentax. I have not decided if I will end up with Canon (likely) or maybe a Panasonic GH2. I don’t know for sure yet. The GH2 can use an adapter to handle all sorts of lenses, from Pentax to Canon. I have a lot of friends who shoot Canon.

I’m leaving a close-knit, if somewhat snarky, community. Because Pentax isn’t as popular as other DSLR systems, there are not that many “Pentaxians.” I’m also leaving the cheap lenses that made Pentax so appealing to a budget DSLR user. Modern, good glass is not cheap.

I am going to gain ability and stability. Which ever body I end up with will have full HD video control. And be from a company that supports the future of that in DSLRs.

Now to figure out which is the best for me.

Christian TV: Now is the Time for Change

We have the chance to show a biblical worldview to a generation that is leaving the church in droves. We can change Christian TV and impact people we have never reached before.

The current pay TV/educational license model in Christian TV is limited in reach, and the donor base is drying up. Younger audiences are not responding to this type of TV. Quality Christian TV is still shut out of the major networks. We may see the occasional show like Seventh Heaven or Touched by an Angel, but generally there are no TV shows that routinely show characters dealing with real world issues from a biblical perspective.

What if we could change that? What if we could use emerging technology to reach millions?

Television broadcasting is in the middle of the largest shift in content delivery since cable was invented. In the next few years we will see the Internet become the primary source for video consumption. Networks are scrambling to figure out how to stay profitable.
With the shift in how people get content, there will no longer be network locks at every door.

Now is the time to use new methods of delivery for quality episodic Christian content. We can bypass the network gatekeepers, and create a new funding model for TV. (Not just Christian TV, but all TV) We can bypass the networks, and make content available to millions of people. We can create shows and distribute them directly on services like Netflix and Hulu, or through YouTube or Vimeo, or any other web video outlet.

We need more people to break outside traditional Christian TV models and create programming that appeals to those who flip past the religious channels on their TV. We need a new wave of Christian media professionals to do to TV what we have started to do to the movie industry.

I am developing a sitcom that will appeal to 18-34 years olds who use social media and can bypass traditional media roadblocks to Christian content.

My show answers one question: What does it really mean to have a biblical worldview? Research shows that 18-34 years olds prefer either reality TV or comedies. My show is based on a freshman college student from a non religious family who has just asked Jesus into his heart. We follow the main character through life as he struggles to understand what his new faith really means, and see the contrasts between how Christendom views faith and how the world views faith. The style is sort of like someone took Stuff Christians Like, Community, and Scrubs and threw them into a blender.

The funding portion of this still taking shape. We will pay for it by keeping costs low and selling sponsorships and product placement. If I can successfully take advantage of the resources available to me, the production costs will be minimal. Start up costs include money for props and advertising, which could be significant.

Target audience of 18-34 year olds who use social media. Delivery through the internet. Funny, compelling comedy that views characters from a biblical perspective. That’s the dream.

How can you be involved.

– Pray
“Like” the Peculiar Show page on Facebook.
– Follow @peculiarshow on twitter.
– Send an email to scott@peculiarshow.com

This is very early in the process. There are a million things to do, and I only know how to do some of them. But every day things are moving forward.

Quick Edits: In Camera Effects for Still Photography

I have been using DSLRs for a few years now, but never really played around with the internal effects. In some of the cameras I had they were pretty limited. Today I spent a few minutes playing with some in the Pentax K-x. It boasts eight in camera effects: Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Extract Color, Soft, Star Burst, Fish Eye, and a custom filter. Some are fairly usefulness. The fish eye filter is a basic distortion filter, and any photo editor can do more. The Toy Camera and retro filters are like the filters you can find in some popular smart phone apps.

One effect could save you quite a bit of time in Post Processing; extract color.

On the left you see the basic snap shot. Nothing fancy, just a lot of colors. On the right you see the color blue has been extracted. There are six different colors to choose from (Red, Magenta, Blue, Cyan, Green, Yellow) with 5 levels of sensitivity.

If you are looking for this kind of effect, using the in camera filters may work for you, and save you some time. While not all of the in camera effects are useful, they are getting better. With the popularity of smart phone apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram, people will continue to want to easily add interesting looks to their pictures. We may continue to see improvements in the in camera effects available in new models.