Equipment - tools of the trade: December 2005 Archives

Leica Fotographie International (LFI) has M7 Digital prototype photographs on their website, along with an article. The copyright gives credit as a "montage" so its veracity is unknown. Not much new information is added to what we already know: 1.39x crop factor, replacement of the traditional cloth shutter, etc. (Via the Leica User Group)

Hasselblad film cameras (the 200 and 500 lines) are officially dead as production has ended for both the series. Some dealers may continue to sell out of dead stock. It's a sad day for a wonderful series of cameras. Hassie continues to sell its digital series of cameras, made by Fuji.

Zeiss is running out of film camera lines for its lenses, with Kyocera/Contax and Hasselblad kicking the dust. Perhaps this is why they started the Zeiss Ikon series with Cosina. Mehyar sends a link to a store in Germany (SHPhoto) which has some of the lowest EU prices for the Zeiss Ikon that I've seen.

I was going to pick up the Canon VL-3 tiny 3-watt video light for use as a catch light on my XL-H1. Before I went to Hokkaido, I tried it out at the Bic Camera store in Shinjuku but it wasn't compatible, the light didn't turn on irrespective of the various settings. The VL-3 came recommended by XL-2 users, but it looks like Canon yanked support for the XL-H1?

I'm in Hachinohe, Aomori right now, blogging from my hotel room. Business hotels in Japan have become quite affordable. "Super Hotel Hachinohe" is Y4980 a night, which includes high-speed internet, private bath/toilet, TV, tiny fridge, and all importantly, a little hot water pot for making tea. Breakfast is included as well. If you're travelling in Japan, definitely check for Super Hotels. The only problem is that some (like the one in Hachinohe) aren't located in front of the train station.

I'm off in an hour or so to Urakawa, Hokkaido. I'm visiting the Bethel House community, which is made up of people with psychiatric disabilities. They run their own company which sells local products (seaweed, crafts, etc.) as well as themselves. They have a series of books and videotapes and often go on lectures to talk about Bethel House. I'll be staying there about a week to shoot some video on their community structure.

I'm off to Japan for a three week fieldtrip: one week in Tokyo, one in Hokkaido (the northern island), and one in Osaka. I'm cramming a lot in a very short amount of time. If you were wondering about the flurry of equipment posts, it's because I've been thinking out loud what equipment to get and to bring with me. This is what my fieldkit looks like:

Well, I ran some tests today right before my trip and it turns out that Final Cut Express HD (v3.01) isn't compatible with the 24F mode on the new Canon XL-H1 HDV camcorder. This is a bit of a disappointment since I was looking forward to doing some editing in the field. As one of the commenters below notes, this is a known non-feature - it's clearly stated on Apple's comparison chart between iMovie, FCX, and FCP5.

The good (?) news is that Final Cut Express does work with the 30F mode (and of course the 60i mode). I'm curious to see what would happen if I get the PAL upgrade in Japan, which would give me selectable 50i and whether those would work. If I can get 50i and it works with Final Cut Express HD, I might just tape everything in 50i since it's trivial to telecine to film.

Or, I could assume everyone will be digital soon enough and not worry about ever going to film. Thoughts? has a very extensive review of the JVC GY-H100 camcorder. Looks quite good (true 720p / 24P; interchangeable lenses; XLR inputs) and priced reasonably at $6300. Is this a rival to the Canon XL-H1? Unfortunately, initial reports indicate severe chromatic aberration using the standard lens. I hope that JVC can fix this in production units since this is a deal-killer for many. A lesser rival is the still-vaporware Panasonic AG-HVX200. Not much is known, but HDforIndies has an excellent FAQ tidbits summary.

On Friday, UPS had a large box for me - the Canon XL-H1 that I have had on back-order from B&H for the past month finally arrived! It's arriving just on the nick of time, I'm leaving Tuesday for a 3-week field trip to Japan. I was just about to cancel with B&H when they told me that they had shipped. I don't usually like taking untested equipment to the field, so I'm bringing along my Sony HDR-HC1 as a backup and second camera.

Judging from the serial number, I think I have one of the first 100 units in the United States. Here are some of my notes after using the camera for the last 24 hours. Feel free to post questions and I'll try to respond as best that I can (it may be delayed since I'll be in the field starting from Tuesday).

Read for further comments on the camera and its use.

Mark Nelson reviews the M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96 compact flash field recorder. I've covered this unit previously -- the killer for me is the proprietary, non-replaceable internal lithium-ion battery. If they had it set so that it took AAs, I'd buy it in a second.
Self-proclaimed "video geek" Adam Wilt has an excellent resource that explains everything you wanted to know about DV and HDV formats (including DVCam and DVCPro). Meanwhile, also check out the HDV Cafe.

I forgot how I got to this site, but has very useful cautions about buying used motion film cameras online (ebay, etc.) including things to watch out for. Read this before you plunk down your cash for a used Arri or Bolex!

I also came across this link to essays on film by Richard Leacock, also entirely random.

Equipment: Sony HDR-HC1

| | Comments (1)

HDRHC1.jpgIn preparation for my winter field trip to Japan, I bought the Sony HDR-HC1. I wasn't sure if the Canon XL-H1 would arrive in time and the Sony is small and inexpensive enough to serve as a good second unit. From what B&H told me, it actually looks like the XL-H1 is arriving this week, so I'll have two units which will be fantastic. I'll be able to set the Sony up on a tripod to capture wides and some audio channels, and use the XL-H1 as the roving camera. Or vice-versa.

On the DV-L, one person had some questions about the Sony. Here is my response as well as some additional thoughts about it:

ArsTechnica has an excellent in-depth review of Apple's new Aperture program for digital photographers. It looks like it's definitely a version 1.0 program, hopefully Apple can resolve all of the issues for the 1.1 release.
DV cameras have tiny sensors with infinite depth of field (or so it seems). This is great for Aunt Harriet's tea party, but not so good for your next indie flick. What to do? has a great index to two articles that talk about how to hack for greater DOF, including using a projecting a virtual image onto the platter of a CD.
Ken Rockwell has a wonderful article about the joys of large-format photography, particularly his 4x5 format field camera. There's no single-sensor digital camera that can yet beat a sheet of 4x5 Provia 100 or T-Max 100 (mmmm... T-Max).

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This page is a archive of entries in the Equipment - tools of the trade category from December 2005.

Equipment - tools of the trade: November 2005 is the previous archive.

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