The struggle to get ENG-style lens flexibility on large sensor cameras came about as soon as people started shooting video on 5DmkII cameras. Traditional video shooters who shot before the large sensor revolution were very used to having huge magnification ratios. Video lenses with a 14x, 27x, or even 22x were common. These lenses also featured very bright apertures, usually holding near f/2.2 through the full zoom range. The feature that completed the package was powered servo motors with pressure sensitive rocker control. Usually the zoom, focus, and iris could all me motor controlled. Typically these were very precise motors that could go from a super slow crawl zoom to a turbo snap zoom just with the flick of the pressure rocker. These lenses were taken for granted as just being part of shooting video.
Most large sensor shooters use photo lenses. These lenses have zoom ratios of 2x, 3x, 4x, often have floating apertures as bad as f/6.3, and have no powered zoom. Lenses that combine the best of both worlds do exist but they are very expensive. Cine servo zooms from Fujinon, Canon, Zeiss, and more usually start around $35,000. Sony has attempted to provide low cost alternatives in the past. Previously the took their 18-200mm photo zoom and attached a small powered motor to the bottom of that. The results were less then impressive. The less drops to f/6.3 very quickly as you zoom and the motor has two speeds, slow and less slow. You can’t get a beautiful crawl nor can you get a snap zoom.
Sony’s taking another stab. This time they’re introducing a lens designed from the ground up to fit this niche. It is a 28-135mm f/4 constant zoom lens with powered zoom, focus, and iris. It has image stabilization and autofocus. It is an E-mount lens that will cover up to photo full frame sensor size. That means you could actually attach this to nearly any E-mount camera including the A7s. Since the lens has it’s own zoom nob on the side the camera itself doesn’t have to offer a rocker (though that is preferable). Only getting one in hand will let us know how the glass and motors actually perform. Sony says the lens will have 8-level variable speed control so that should help compared to the earlier attempts. The lens will be sold in a kit with the new FS7 camera or stand alone for about $2,500. It should ship before the end of 2014.
After the very successful launch of the Dual-Pixel autofocus system for the C100 Canon has announced plans to roll this feature out for the EOS C300. They will begin offering this feature to existing C300 owners in May. The cost will be $500, same as for the C100. There is no word yet if they will also begin shipping C300s with the Dual-Pixel feature pre-installed as they have with the C100. If you purchased your C300 from us and you would like this feature installed please let us take care of the shipping and coordination with the Canon service center for you. It’s our small way of saying “thank you” for buying your camera from us. Post by Eric C. Petrie
Canon has already began offering the Dual-Pixel Autofocus upgrade to existing C100 owners. Soon Canon will start shipping the C100 with the Dual-Pixel AF pre-installed and ready to go. So whats the big hype? Why do people care? Pros don’t use autofocus, do they? After all, doesn’t video camera AF hunt around and struggle to lock on? And AF is usually so slow, isn’t it?
All of those questions relate to traditional video camera autofocus as we have known it for decades now. Canon aims to usher in a completely new realm of autofocus technology to the realm of professional video. I could go into detail of what it looks like, how it works, and what the benefits are. Instead i’m going to let a couple of video pros do it.
Philip Bloom recently got his hands on a Dual-Pixel C100 and has put together a great 7 minute video illustrating the pros, the cons, and (most importantly) how to maximize it to make it a useful professional feature. Watch the video here.
Here is another great sample video by event filmmaker Joe Simon. He shows the practical real-world appellation of the C100 Dual-Pixel AF and how it can benefit shooters in all circumstances. This video is about 9 minutes long.
Don’t underestimate this feature. This is not the AF of the past. This is something that is going to be useful in a huge variety of circumstances. Picture using this feature in combination with a jib, or a MoVI, or SteadiCam, or even a simple slider. This is something that, even if you’ve said you’ll never use AF, you’ll find a creative way to use it once it’s in your hands. Post by Eric C. Petrie
Next month Canon will begin offering their factory-installed sensor enhancement. One of the biggest changes for users moving from traditional video cameras like a Canon XF300 or a Panasonic HVX200 is the lack of continuous autofocus. Cinema cameras like the C100 typically offer ether no autofocus at all or limited one-shot push-button autofocus. This will be one of the first professional cinema cameras to offer real-time autofocus. While most pros would agree that they prefer to focus manually there certainly are circumstances where reliable autofocus is extremely helpful. The enhancement process is a paid upgrade. After purchasing your C100 camera from Professional Video you will pay Canon directly $500 and send the camera to them for the process. Professional Video will have a demo model with this enhancement done to it on the demo floor for you to try as soon as the upgrade is available. To read more about the update click here. Post by Eric C. Petrie
Available soon from Canon will be a factory-installed upgrade for the EOS C100 Digital Video Camera that will offer an autofocus mode to prevent motion artifacts during rapid talent and pan moves. The upgrade provides a new Continuous AF (Autofocus) Function for all Canon EF Lenses, apart from manual-focused models, using Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. A new AF Lock setting also lets you change the image framing while holding the desired focus point. These critical focusing capabilities are designed to enhance the smooth capture of moving subjects and achieve more natural-looking autofocus so users can meet their creative needs in even more situations.
The EOS C100 camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology features a CMOS sensor that consists of an array of pixels that each feature two separate photodiodes. By continuously comparing their outputs during AF mode, phase-difference autofocus helps ensure non-blurred images even when the talent and/or camera are moving. The new feature places a high priority on image quality, providing a natural, smooth autofocus movement with all Canon EF lenses – including newer-generation STM lenses – offering quieter operation. Continue Reading….