New gizmos from NAB? How about the stuff we already have.

NAB 2014 is right around the corner, and no doubt it’ll be chock full of all kinds of whizz-bang stuff that will make us all think, “I must have that thingy!  It’ll make my career skyrocket!”
The tools won’t make your career.  Sorry. What I reckon would be more worth all of our while is trying to figure out more cool stuff to do with what we already have.
Here’s an experiment I did with my trusty old  Panasonic GH2, a very small mirrorless camera that shoot great video.  The newer GH3 is no doubt a bit better, and the GH4 looks like it’ll rise above the crowd, but I don’t think that will remove the utility of the old GH2.

If you’re going to NAB, please stop by the Airbox Lights booth and see what inflatable softboxes can do for plain old LED panels. See the new Model 1×1 and Model 126!  Make ugly into beautiful! Games! Prizes! Gear! All your questions answered!

Tom Guiney
Airbox Lights & Conviction Films, Inc.


Airbox LED softboxes on: Mirrorless better than DSLR for video?

Is mirrorless the new deal for DSLRs and lower-budget smaller-scale video shooting?  Or I guess I should say “DSLM”.  That’s the new term I heard at the WPPI trade show in Las Vegas last week. It was most often mentioned cheek-to-jowl with the term “hybrid” photography, which was also new to me. Mirrorless and hybrid are a trend, which you can see with the field dominating Canon releasing its EOS-M to jump into the fray.

Will Crockett feels strongly this way.  his aurdience is primarily photographers who are transitioning over towards video, since their clients are asking them to.  Some of mine are asking me the reverse:
“did you shoot any stills when you were shooting that part?” And my answer’s always, uh, no, because I was shooting video. I didn’t shoot any stills.  Maybe that’s a lack of planning on my part, that maybe I SHOULD shoot stills along the way when I’m shooting video. So shooting “hybrid” is apparently more and more of the new deal for all of us.

I pressed him on a few of the points in his video.
1.Why’s he think it’s so much easier to shoot video with mirrorless like a gh2 or gh3 than with the old favorite the 5d?
response:  a) autofocus actually works on mirrorless cameras for video, but autofocus in unavailable in video to DSLRs other than the Sony a99.  b)mirrorless is natively 16:9, making post a little easier. c)more video options like 720 or interlaced available in mirrorless and Sony alphas  d)better overall low light performance in mirrorless.  Performance in his words being a combination of being able to autofocus, judge AWB, and produce good image quality above ISO 2000.

2. Autofocus for video:  I said I still find the autofocus on my GH2 not sufficiently reliable for video work. Sometimes it can follow a moving subject, sometimes it just completely blows it and makes the background really sharp.
Response: Agreed, but still better than you can’t ever use it at all.

3.Lots of lenses available:  My impression is yes, you can use lots of lenses on a micro 4/3 mount, technically the most of any format, but in reality, a lot comes down to the quality of the adapters, and a lot of the affordable ones are crap. The lack of iris control on my Canon EF mount lenses when on a m43 mount, not to mention the sloppy wobbly connection between the lens and the camera, makes those lenses basically unusable on m43. There is that cool 550$ smart adapter from redrock micro, but that’s pretty spendy. Not to mention the 2x crop factor of the M43 sensor, where your nice wide 24mm EF mount is all of a sudden basically a normal perspective lens.
Response: agreed.  He tries to avoid using adapters except for his Leica glass. Using native lenses is far preferable in most cases.

One thing that can be handy about mirrorless is they’re much smaller and usually less expensive for both bodies and glass than pro DSLRs.  Now that Lumix has put out a series of top-quality lenses for M43 format, it feels like a real alternative. When I first got my GH2, there was no fast “normal” zoom available, the equivalent of the Canon L 24-70 2.8. It caused me some heartburn.  Thankfully, now there are the Lumix G X series lenses, which are awesome.  And small! And not that pricey! Only about 1200$ each.

Small camera? Small can be very good sometimes.
When you’re just using it as a SLR-style camera, or traveling, that’s cool.  I find once I kit it out with all my crap for video, like my d-focus cage, rods, monitor, full-size tripod, and mini slider, it’s far from small. Sure is nice to rig up on something.

Here’s when little is a big advantage. Check this out:

13I don’t think you could do that with a chunky SLR with a big lens on it.  well, maybe, but it wouldn’t be as fast and it would be harder to do and bounce around more and maybe not work.

While it’s not the only way to shoot video, and all of our favorite DSLRs are still leading the field, I think the day isn’t that far away when it will just seem like the more logical choice to shoot video with sleek little DSLMs packed with pro video features than with “big” DSLRs. They’re just more video-friendly.  I’m not going to get into the partisan fight about which camera looks better, but there are a lot of just plain practical concerns that make mirrorless attractive. HD live feed to your monitor, for one, so you can keep stuff in focus once you start rolling.

When you’re shooting small like this, you’ll want your lighting kit to be pretty compact too. What better way than totally collapsible almost weightless softboxes for your LED panels? Check us out.
Tom Guiney
Inflatable softboxes for LED Panels