Over the 2 year or so i’ve stuck with Transcend 400x 32GB cards for both filmmaking and photography. Even when shooting in burst mode, the cards are fast enough that I don’t run into buffering issues. However, with the introduction of RAW video on the 5d mark III and cameras like the Canon 1D C shooting 4k video, it seems these cards are no long fast enough to handle the data rates.
For these high data rate applications (around 80MB/s) 1000x CF cards seem to be the best way to go. Having a few 128Gb cards would be an ideal situation as far as capacity is concerned. This would give you about 15 min worth of shooting time per card, which is almost useable on a regular shoot. The downside is of course the price, some of these 128GB cards can set you back over $600.
The more affordable option is to go with a 64GB CF card. This still gives you around 7 min worth of recording time in RAW mode, saves you some money, and from the reports I’ve seen, actually gives you faster write speeds than the 128GB models.
The most well known and most expensive brand on the market is Lexar. At $299 a peace the Lexar x1000 cards are a pretty big hit to the wallet. Even though these cards usually come highly recommended, they are also the cards I see the most complaints about in forums. Everything from failing after only a few uses to ultra slow write speeds. I’m not sure why complaints are so high on Lexar cards but I suspect people who shell out that much cash get pretty vocal when a card like this fails. For the price they at least come with a lifetime warranty and the replacement process is pretty painless.
A less recognized brand, Delkin CF cards are about $60 cheaper than the Lexar cards. While other manufactures with the 1000x logo boast 120MB/s write speeds Delkin only lists 80MB/s. Is that because they are being honest about the cards actual speeds, or like some other brands is it a number that can only be achieved under ideal conditions? Remember the write speeds we’re shooting for are 80MB/s or above.
Dropping down in price another $50, the Transcend 64GB 1000x cards can be had for around $200. Still not what I would call cheap, but they are $100 less than the Lexar offering. I’m a little bias when it comes to Transcend, the 8 400x 32GB cards I’ve been using for the last 2 years have worked without a problem in my 7d as well as my 5d mark III’s. You see the impressive burst rate I get out of the 7d in this video. Like the rest of the cards above, Transcend offers a lifetime warranty and like the rest of the cards the claimed 120MB/s write speed is under ideal conditions.
By far the lowest price 1000x cards on the market come from KomputerBay. At $106 a peace these cards are relatively cheap in comparison to it’s peers. Listed write speeds are 100MB/s and the test I’ve seen put them pretty close to that mark at around 90MB/s in ATTO benchmarks. Until recently I’d never actually heard of the brand and honestly the name KomputerBay doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Unlike the rest of the cards, the Komputerbay 64GB card is missing the VPG standards logo which seems a little shift. However, everything I’ve read about them seems to be positive, is the brand name on the other cards the reason for the higher price or is the Komputerbay card made from substandard materials?
I’m actually going to take a risk on the Komputerbay 64GB and 128GB cards, the price is just too good to pass up. Supposedly they even offer a lifetime warranty, all though I’m not sure how much that means when it’s offered by a brand I’ve never heard of. Hopefully the cards live up to the positive feedback I’ve been seeing. I’ll post some speed tests and more info once I’ve had a chance to get my hands on them.
One other thing to note. If you want to take advantage of the very healthy read speeds these cards have to offer, you might want to upgrade to a USB 3.0 card reader. Generally USB 2.0 card readers will cap you at about 35MB/s, not quite sure why that is when the standard calls for max speeds of around 60MB/s (480Mb/s). Regardless the speed a USB 3.0 card reader provides when transferring files can save you a lot of time.
A few days ago the Magic Lantern team announced the breakthrough of RAW video capture using the Canon 5d Mark III. The first announcement only offered the ability to record about 60 frames in DNG format. Although interesting, 2 seconds of shooting time isn’t very practical. A day later they announced a workaround that would allow data to bypass all of the processing and encoding which allows for much longer files. This allows the information to be written to the CF card in a .raw file which would be processed into DNG or Mjpeg on a computer in post. This new method requires a CF card with very high write speeds (80MB/s or above) and a lot of storage space (128GB will give you about 15 minutes).
I’ve been watching this unfold for a few days now and I must say that this is very interesting. The hack is still very early in it’s development and it seems there are still a lot of things to sort out.
So far it appears that audio isn’t captured during the process which is unfortunate but understandable. Also the workflow looks to be a bit on the complex side of things. The question I have is, will there be overheating issues? The sensor isn’t being abused by this hack (as far as I can tell). This is because the sensor is still streaming the exact same data to the buss as it did when the camera wasn’t hacked so that shouldn’t be a huge issue. But the data being streamed to the CF card slot is pretty demanding and i’m wondering how much heat will be generated by the components involved in writing data to the CF card.
As of right now I’m not brave enough to start testing my cameras, but I have started ordering a few 1000x 128GB CF cards in preparation for future testing. With something like this it’s best to wait a few weeks to see how things pan out.
If you feel like you just can’t wait here’s a pretty good guide on how to install, set everything up, and handle the work flow. Also be sure to donate to the guys at Magic Lantern for bring such amazing new features to market.
I know a lot of people aren’t very hot on the idea of Adobe’s new cloud program, but if you can get a big enough discount on the yearly service it can save you some money in the long run. Right now Newegg is offering 20% off Adobe Cloud subscriptions and the offer lasts until the 19th. Just enter in BTEXRWT48 at checkout for the discount. Hopefully that helps a few people still using CS5 or before looking to upgrade. On a side note, the discount works on student pricing as well.
If you haven’t had a chance you should swing over to the kickstarter page and check out Zeke’s Rocket Travel slider project. There is only a few more hours left on the campaign and it could be your last chance before the price goes up when the units are finally releases.
The design is nice and compact and the ability to use EMT conduit is pretty handy. The demo unit I was able to play with a few weeks ago definitely felt smooth and that was with the prototype wheels. Once they have everything finished I’m sure it’ll be a great piece of kit. I’ve been very happy with the Travel Jib from Zeke’s first kickstarter project. If you’re interested in finding out more check out the kickstarter page.
Over the last year or so, i have basically stopped taking the SmallHD DP4 out on jobs. The reason is because it would usually start to fail on me after a few hours of use. The monitor would start to get warm, then suddenly it would shut down. I’d change out batteries and get no response, but if I left it alone for an hour or so it would eventually turn back on.
After all this time, I decided to contact SmallHD to see if they had any solutions to offer. The first thing they said was, “It’s probably your battery connector plate”. While I knew there were multiple options for battery power with the DP4 I didn’t realize this was a point of failure. The rep instructed me to thread a 1/4 20 stud into the side of the monitor and use it to pry the back off of the unit.
Apparently the power from the back plate comes in on these two pins. He said it was a good idea to clean them off every once in awhile, if they get too dirty it can create a bad electrical connection between the monitor and the battery plate casing the monitor to fail.
The guy from SmallHD also told me that my heating problems were probably due to these spring clips on the battery plate itself. If these pins aren’t properly seated against the back of the monitor, heat can cause them to pull back a small amount as the plastic plate they are attached to expands, which in turn causes the screen to lose power. He said the best thing to do was to clean the ends of the pins and lightly pull on them so that they apply more pressure to the contacts on the back of the monitor.
I left the screen on for 2 hours yesterday in the heat and didn’t have any problems. I might risk taking it with me on next week’s shoot to see how reliable this fix really is. Hopefully this simple trick solves the problem.
Here’s the sample clip from yesterdays post. As I mentioned it’s hard to tell the difference between the footage from the Ninja 2 and the Canon 5d mark III. At first glance the footage doesn’t look much different. However the 200% zoom in side by side comparison I posted yesterday doesn’t quite tell the whole story. As many of you mentioned the image from the Ninja 2 most likely contains more color information then the footage from the camera’s internal codec.
I was trying to think of the best way to expose this extra information in the timeline since it’s not easy to see when comparing clips. After doing a little bit of testing in PP CS6 it seemed like a difference matte was the easiest solution. For the test I placed the clips from both the Ninja 2 and the 5d mark III in the timeline and applied the difference matte to the 5d mark III layer. Then set the View option to “Matte only” and the matching tolerance and matching softness 0%.
The result is basically a map of the missing data in the Canon 5d mark III’s internal codec. When viewed in this manner it’s much easier to see what’s really going on. Sure at first glance the footage from the Ninja 2 doesn’t look like a huge step up, but when you take a look at it from this perspective the amount of missing information is pretty amazing. I was not expecting there to be this much missing color information.
If you don’t do a lot of grading in post, you probably won’t be blown away by the difference in image quality the Ninja 2 provides. But when you peel back the layers and take a closer look at the data, there is a definite advantage to the Ninja 2 when paired with the 5d mark III.
Will all this extra color information translate to better image sharpening in post? At the very least, it can’t hurt. If I get a chance, I might spend some time trying to push the footage around a bit in speedgrade and see how well it handles. I’ll post some more info once I’ve had a chance to do some more testing.
I don’t normally have to get this forensic with footage. If anyone knows a better way to analyze the color information let me know and I’ll give it a try.
I finally had a chance this morning to take a look at the clean hdmi output of the Canon 5d mark III and compare it to the internal codec. At 200% there isn’t really a big difference in image quality. There does seem to be a little bit of color shift in the ninja footage but it’s not extreme and probably won’t be an issue for most people. The Prores recorded by the Ninja 2 will provide more headroom when grading but the footage itself isn’t much sharper than the internal codec.
You can download the frame grabs here and take a look at them for yourself. If you were planning on picking up a Ninja 2 to improve the sharpness of your Canon 5d mark III footage, you’re probably going to be disappointed. If you plan to heavily grade your footage in post, the Ninja 2 could still be a reasonable option.
The disappointing part for me is that the HDMI signal doesn’t contain audio. I haven’t had many issues with the detail in the images provided by the 5dmkIII, but it would have been really handy to capture 4 tracks of audio with the ninja and have them all conveniently rolled into the a single clip. I generally try to avoid syncing audio unless it’s absolutely necessary and the more tracks I can bring in the better.
I can see some use cases, for example if you shoot a lot of legal work, having a Ninja with you could allow you to record extremely long sessions. It might also be a benefit when green screening. I’ll post some more screen grabs once I’ve had a little more time to test, but as of right now it doesn’t look like a Ninja 2/5d mark III combo will be worth the cost for many.
While the Pixel kings I had before came with a bag, flash stands, and few extra strobe cables, the Yongnuo YN-622C wireless flash triggers don’t come with any accessories. That’s fine for me as I still have all the extra bits and pieces from my broken Pixel king set, but it might raise the price for you if you end up needing to buy all those little extras.
Even though the Yongnuo YN-622C is made out of plastic, build quality is reasonably good. The hot shoe is made out of metal instead of plastic like the one used on the Pixel king receivers which should make them a little more durable. I think they’d still probably break under the same beating my old units took, but they don’t feel like a downgrade in quality over the Pixel Kings and the metal hot shot gives them a slight advantage.
I’ve only been home about 2 days so I’ve only had a small amount of time to play around with the Yongnuo YN-622C units. I was attempting to test the range of operation which is supposed to be up to 100 meters (about 300 feet). This shot (above) was taken from a little over a 120 feet with the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens and the flash was consistently triggering in my master closet. That should be more than enough for anything I need, but I’ll take them out testing when I get a chance and let you know how they do.
The price is right and the features are better than most other units on the market. So far I feel pretty positive about the Yongnuo YN-622C wireless flash trigger. I’ll be spending some more time with it and hopefully i’ll get a review up at some point in the next few weeks. Right now i’m just glad to be home.
In the discussion about HDMI cables awhile back a few of you recommended these Sanho Hyperthin HDMI cables. The cables looked pretty good, so I ordered a few to take with me to portland. At $16 a piece ($14.95 plus shipping), they’re a little more expensive than a few of the other options, but the cable size is definitely worth it.
Side by side with the Mediabridge Flex cable I normally use, it’s easy to see that the Sanho Hyperthin wins in the size and flexibility category. It’s hard to believe that a cable could be this thin. I’ve only had a chance to test this out with a monitor so far but it appears to be working just as well as any other HDMI cable I’ve used.
Not really sure how durable the cable will be in the long run, but I think I’ll be ordering 3 or 4 more for each bag. Even if these only last 3 or 4 months, the flexibility makes them extremely handy.
On a side note, a few of you have asked for some comparison between the ALL-I and Prores 422 footage from the Ninja 2. I’ve shot the clips and I have them with me. Hopefully I’ll have some time when I get to the next motel to sit down and take a closer look at the footage. I’m thinking a difference matte might be the easiest way to see the difference, but i’m open to any ideas.
I posted about the Yongnuo YN-622c flash transceiver awhile back. It looked like a pretty good option, but I was already using a set of Pixel King E-TTL wireless triggers for flash work. Recently my Pixel King receiver took a nose dive off a light stand taking a second unit with it. The flashes survived but the cold shoe broke off both receivers and the 1/4 20 threads are in pretty bad shape. I looked into replacement cost and they want $78 a peace for the receivers.
When I looked up the cost of the Yongnuo YN-622c flash transceivers on ebay, i found out you can buy a set of 4 transceivers for $159 with free shipping which is about the same price as two replacement Pixel King receivers. I thought this might be a good opportunity to test out the Yongnuo YN-622c flash transceivers and see how well they work.
I just left for Oregon this morning and stopped in for some Voodoo Doughnuts on the way to the motel, so I won’t be able to run any tests until I get back next week. I don’t do a lot of flash tests, so if there is anything you’d like to see tested let me know and I’ll add it to my list of things to do.
Also, I brought some test footage I shot with the Ninja and 5d mark III with me. Hopefully i’ll be able to do some grading tests while i’m in the motel and post them this week. I’ll keep you posted.