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Developing High-Speed with the TS3Cine

It’s not breaking news that we have been waiting for a viable model of the much-lauded TS3cine to walk in our door.  For the past 18 months, we have been working closely with the engineers at Fastec Imaging to develop an affordable, portable, DSLR-esque, high-speed camera.  The wish list for the camera has been daunting: a stand-alone camera that will go anywhere and provide 720 HD resolution up to 720 fps, internal processing and storage capability, EF and PL mounts, a large high-resolution color LCD viewfinder while being lightweight and portable, and, finally, with the no-nonsense feel of a DSLR.  The TS3 has been a challenge in the making, and we have been along for the ride (virtually on the edge of our seats) waiting for the first unit to arrive. Matt Kearney at Fastec arrives today with the camera (with fmount).  We’ll post some photos later today and updates as they develop.  In the meantime, join us for Wednesday’s, January 11th Learning Lab at 10am.  Tom Talbot will have the TS3Cine prototype and provide an overview of the camera’s capabilities. Brian Malcolm, General Manager, malcolm@rule.com

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First Impressions of the Canon CinemaEOS C300

Coming off of our hugely successful Pub Night here at Rule Boston Camera last Thursday night, I finally have a few minutes to sit down and pass along my initial observations of the Canon C300 and C300PL cameras.

MODULAR DESIGN & ERGONOMICS

When I first got to handle the C300 in November, I did not know if a modular design would be better than a single integrated design.  The first thing that comes to mind is that the bits and pieces, or modules as I have been calling them, could easily get misplaced if you were spending too much time setting up and breaking down “stuff” for any given shot.   I have started to reconsider this opinion thinking that different users and different productions might configure the camera to satisfy the shooting style rather than to satisfy the  shot.  That said, I tried adding some modules onto the camera and throwing it into a camera bag to see how much stuff could be left on without much fuss.  It is a bit tall rather than long (depending on the lens) but with a simple tripod plate screwed onto the camera I found that I could move from tripod to handheld to and then to camera bag just by removing the LCD module.

We will have to look into camera bag options that are a bit more “bowling ball bag” shaped…

I know that we will see lots of 3rd party accessories shortly so stay tuned!

In its most stripped down state, you simply pop in a Canon 955 battery, side grip and a lens and you can shoot using the small EVF and no microphone.

From there you can attach the LCD module which also gives you 2 XLR connections and media playback controls.  There is a shotgun mic holder on this module as well.  The module connects via two 20 pin limo connectors that appear to be totally unique.  These connectors provide signals for the LCD and controls as well as to the XLR mic/line audio inputs.  This is a small 1/8th mini mic connector on the camera body as well but I suspect that may be limited in quality.

Additionally Canon provides a handle which can be used with or without the LCD module.

LENS MOUNTS

Very simply, when you purchase or rent the Canon C300 you have to commit to either the EF lens mount version, called the C300, OR you have to commit to the PL lens mount version called the C300PL.  Canon deliberated this for quite some time before concluding that a super-accurate and mechanically sound lens mount was more important and beneficial to the user than in interchangeable adapter solution.  I agree with this when you consider that sacrificing tight design for flexibility and a broader audience may reduce the camera’s performance.

XF CODEC

Factoids on paper sometimes appear more powerful and important than they actually are.  Since 100 is a larger number than 35, 100 must be “better”, right?   Of course, the word “better” has no context and is very misleading.  This was often first sentence in a much more in-depth video signal compression discussion (but I digress). The Canon 4K imager does a fantastic job delivering a full 1920×1080 resolution for the Red and Blue components and actually delivers 2 channels of 1920×1080 Green in such a way to minimize moire and retain a super sampled luminance signal.   This full 4:4:4 signal is offered to the signal processing engine.  Ultimately from there the signal is fed to both the HDSDI and HDMI outputs as well as to the compression engine packaged as 8-bit.  In-camera recording to CF cards is up to 50Mbits/sec 4:2:2 wrapped in MXF. Some people are concerned that 8-bit is not as good a 10-bit and, in a vacuum, this is true.  Most of the current in-camera recorders out there encode an 8-bit signal of some type.  Some external records can be setup to record a 10bit signal but it depends on the CODEC. While demoing the C300 to a large group at WGBH the other day it was wisely pointed out that HDCAM is also an 8-bit recording format and HDCAM is the delivery format of choice for what we see every day for PBS broadcasting. Like most things, you be the judge of what is objectionable and what is water cooler speculation.

MENUS

I will devote a future blog entry  to the C300 menu structure but I can say that the interface was very intuitive and familiar.  The menu can be superimposed on the EVF, the LCD or the external outputs.   In the case of the external connectors you do not get all superimposed info such as  WFM, VECT or some other items.  There is also a very handy rear display below the EVF that gives you access to ISO/Gain, White Balance, and shutter angle.  I found this to be the place where I would quickly choose the Function button and toggle between and change these core settings.

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Canon C300 Pub Night With Larry Thorpe

I would like to thank all of those who joined us for Canon’s C300 event last night.  It was very well attended with a record 150 guests at our popular Pub Night series.  It was great to see a crowd of seasoned professionals eager to learn about the exciting new cinema camera offered by Canon.  As always, the night began with an excellent selection of  pizza and beer, but the floor was quickly handed over to Canon’s Larry Thorpe, an industry veteran who is one of the masterminds behind the development of the C300.  He was, by far, the best candidate to give the presentation.  He led the audience through many exciting specifications on the camera including its new Super 35mm sensor designed from the ground up with its native 850 iso sensitivity.  For a great list of specs on the camera you can visit Canon’s EOS web page.  Larry also showed various Canon-funded projects that were commissioned to highlight the range and resolution of the new camera.  The projects clearly show that the C300 promises to be a very important cinematic tool for filmmakers. We had four C300s on display (two with EF mounts and two with PL mounts) with one set-up to record Larry’s presentation.  Afterward, all hands were on the demo C300 models which were configured in various handheld and studio setups.  It was a great opportunity for everyone to push buttons, prod accessories, focus lenses and ask questions. Although the cameras will be returning to Canon, we expect to have another unit in-house soon for those of you who may have missed the event. We are actively working with Canon to finalize a dealership agreement for the C300 which would place us in a newly-formed Canon group titled “Professional Production System Dealers”. The group was formed not only to support the C300 but also to reinforce Canon’s commitment to produce future cinema cameras and lenses.  I am very excited about our developing relationship with Canon and all that it promises to bring to our clients.  I will, of course, keep you posted. We should have pricing and delivery info by January 17th.  If you are thinking about purchasing a C300 please consider talking to us first.  We are here to support you. Brian Malcolm, General Manager, malcolm@rule.com

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TV Logic’s New Electronic Viewfinder

At tonight’s Pub Night, we’ll be introducing an exciting new Electronic Viewfinder made by TV Logic and distributed by Alphatron that will be available at NAB 2012.  You can see the basic specs below, and more information will be released monthly. EVF 035W-3G Electronic Viewfinder, available Spring 2012. Made by TV Logic and distributed by Alphatron. Stats: 3.5” Display 960×640 HD-SDI loop through HDMI in/out 1080P Headphone Jack Focus Assist Each month between now and then we will release updates with new product features.  TV Logic and Alphatron came up with the idea for the new EVF at last year’s NAB and have spent this year working together to develop and fine-tune it.  Rene van der Reiden of Alphatron describes the relationship between Alphatron and TV Logic as, “a good combination with many factors, so this combination hopefully will be very successful in the time to come.” We encourage you to ask us questions about this new product!  We’ll channel them to Alphatron in order to get answers and to let them know what kind of feedback we’re hearing from our customers about the product so far.  The EVF035W-3G Viewfinder will not be available through TV Logic or Alphatron online.  The product will only be available through product resellers.  The list of resellers has not been announced yet, but Rule Boston Camera is one of them, and we look forward to answering your questions and telling you more about the viewfinder.  The EVF will list for a price of $1,395 which is also Minimum Advertised Price.  As a company that has had good experiences with TV Logic products in the past, we agree with Rene’s statement that, ‘what is important is how they handle problems and how they support you.  We have been working with them for the last 4 years and have an excellent relationship not only business to business, but person to person. Here, we are very excited because we know a little more than everyone else does and it will be a brilliant product, I’m sure.  It’s [a company to customer] win-win.’ -Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales, brooks@rule.com If you have further questions, please contact either our Sales Team here at Rule Boston Camera or myself at 617-277-2200 or email us at RuleSales@rule.com.

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Multiple Canon C300 (and C300PL) in our Shop for New England’s big unveiling Thursday night!

Picture this… I am sitting in a staff meeting and I see, through the glass door, a cart with 4 cardboard boxes from Fed Ex roll by headed my way. I know that I am expecting a delivery of 4 Canon C300 cameras for our Special January Pub Night with Larry Thorpe. For those of you not aware, Larry is Senior Director of Professional Engineering and Solutions at Canon.  He will be presenting  an overview of the C300 followed by Q&A.  By the way, if you are interested in joining us, it goes from 6-8pm. and you can RSVP to events@rule.com Just like a kid on Christmas day, I rush to open these boxes.  I was fortunate to be invited by Canon to attend their grand unveiling in Hollywood on Nov. 3rd so I already had my hands on the camera but I knew that today, I would be able to spend some real time tinkering with these and in quantity! We received two EF mount and two PL.  We will be showing them in various configurations – from bare bones DSLR-like handheld configs to fully built-up studio style cinema rigs with Optimo zoom cinema lenses. Very shortly I will follow this up with a more detailed blog about my observations, but in summary, the C300 is a winner for sure!  It is elegant, logical, sturdy and tight.  Its modular design does not feel like you are taking apart a child’s toy and the more I played with it the more I understood that a lot of consideration was given to each module. The pistol grip side handle has a 4 pin electronic connector cable that plugs in before you set your angle for mounting. The mount itself is a very sturdy metal thread which gives you confidence in its reliability. The menu and controls are straightforward in intuitive.  You have options to label in ISO or Gain, Shutter in Degrees or fractions, White balance  presets displayed in iconic sun or light bulb form or in kelvin (K) The base sensitivity is shown at [850], for use when utilizing Canon Log, and as most of you have already heard it goes up to an astounding 20,000 ISO!  This of course doesn’t mean that you should always shoot this way nor does it mean that there is no amplifier noise but when the judgement of “acceptable”  is yours to make for some shots, its is nice to know you’ve got it when you need it. The EF mount with one of our 24-70 EF lenses looked great and of course an Optimo on the PL version looks stunning. –  Tom Talbot Director of Technology