My Thoughts on the New Cameras Announced at IBC and Photokina 2014

Should I be kind? I don’t know.

 Sony FS7

Sony PXW-FS7

Thank you, Sony, for producing a stellar camera (at least on paper) for most low-budget productions, regardless of industry. From broadcast to corporate to feature to selfies, this camera can do it all, in 4K. First, check out the footage:

It reminds me of footage from the C300 and C500, slightly video-ish.

In one single heave, Sony has thrown a killer punch to the Aja CION (whose recently published skin show was terribly disappointing), the Ursa, Kinefinity, the 1DC, the C300, the C500, Red Scarlet, the F5, the F55 and even the F65. Oh wait, these last three are Sony’s own cameras!

What is Sony’s strategy? Does it even have one for the long term? I have my doubts. If you don’t agree, please tell me, which is the best Sony camera:

  • The Sony A7s – full frame sensor that shoots 4K and has tremendous low-light ability, and produces cinematic images
  • The FS700 – the only HFR solution; can shoot RAW but looks like video
  • The FS7 – internal 4K, but looks like video, and no RAW
  • The F5 – the hackable 4K camera, but looks like video
  • The F55 – the-hacked-at-the-factory 4K camera that looks great as long as you shoot RAW
  • The F65 – the ‘is this even in production anymore?’ 4K camera

Do they want you to buy all of their cameras?

Or, are they thinking: Let’s make them all look alike, like smartphones. Buyers will buy what their pocketbooks can bear. If you pay more, you’ll feel like you got a good deal, right?

Please tell us what to think, Sony.

But seriously, great job on the FS7. You just cleared the air in the sub-$15,000 space. Hope it works out for you.


Sony PXW-X500, X200, X70 and all the other ENG cameras

Why are manufacturers even upgrading these cameras? They were all doing their jobs just fine. You’d think, after 50 years of broadcast, they’d have perfected the form factor by now, which they have. So why waste precious resources creating new bodies? Think about it, the only real changes over any iteration are the sensor and the media card.

If ever a replaceable sensor strategy was needed, it’s in the ‘too-expensive-for-their-own-good’ ENG space.

Agree or disagree?

Canon 7D Mark II

Nice camera … for D.W. Griffith. Seriously though, Canon delivers on its promises. Every time. It really knows the working professional. Too bad its promises aren’t earth shattering like its competition’s. But I can tell you this: Everyone who buys the 7D Mark II will be happy with their purchase.

Canon is moving away from the ultra-low-budget video space, one that Sony is so keen to grab for some strange reason.

Arri Alexa 65

Not announced at IBC or Photokina, but sill. Wait a minute, why didn’t Arri use the opportunity for extra press?

Anyway, my detailed thoughts can be found here. Clearly the camera of 2014, bar none. Now we need to see some actual footage.

Panasonic 4K Varicam

I lost interest in this camera at NAB. It’s invisible to me.

Blackmagic PL-mount cameras

Cheap cameras with expensive PL mount glass. There must be a market we all don’t know about.


Leica S (Typ 007)

This is killer. A medium format camera that also shoots 4K. And then you see the price. For $25K I can buy a couple of Pentax 645Zs and the FS7. Oh, what a tough choice. If the price of the body shocks you, don’t look at the price on the lenses.

Clearly Leica has a niche market that prizes ultimate image quality, has a lot of cash to burn, but are somehow oblivious to every other camera out there. What if one took a Panasonic camera and stuck a Leica logo on it? Would the fanboys notice? Oh wait, they’re already doing that.

It’s a shame really, because this weather-proof camera is a great option for photojournalists who want to shoot video. Too bad they’ll have to spend their entire year’s worth of salary to buy this one (If you’re in the third world, forget it – Leica doesn’t even have stores there). What’s worse, the S model doesn’t hold its resale value, which the M series does quite well.

One more thing, why does the number have three digits, like 006 or 007? Will there be a 894th Leica S? Should I be keeping a spreadsheet?

Samsung NX1

I like this camera, too bad it’s from Samsung. No track record for video, no professional lenses and no roadmap.

If I’m envious of my little sister owning a Sony or Canon I’ll ask her to buy the Samsung.

Hey, if you’re ever curious as to why Samsung is even in the low-budget video space, look at the HDTV section at your nearest electronic store. And then the smartphone section, too.

Panasonic mini-4K cameras, the LX100 and CM1 smartphone

Very interesting bunch of cameras so consumers can watch their holidays on their new 4K HDTVs.

Great cameras mind you, but think about this: Would anybody be using any of these for video work that puts food on the table?

Mr. Fincher: Sorry, Ben, the Red Epic Dragon broke down. Shall we shoot with my CM1?

Ben: I’m Batman!

Nikon D750

The camera for…somebody who still loves the D700 and thinks this one is for him…because 750 is 7% greater than 700.

Are ‘professional’ camera makers erasing the fine line between professional and consumer-grade gear? Or is it the market and cheap sensors that are doing the trick? Either way, it is clear to me that one must invest in systems that also come with excellent customer service. Only three manufacturers stand out in this regard: Canon, Leica and Arri. Forget Leica, because it doesn’t have stores in most parts of the world, let alone service. Forget Arri, because it’s too expensive to buy or even rent. That leaves Canon. Oh Canon, where art thou? They usually announce EOS cinema cameras in the fourth quarter. Let’s see.

Only Sony came to this party, and Sony leaves with the honors.

Was I unkind? You tell me.