Tagged: Review

Panasonic CM1

Although I found the CM1 mediocre as a 900 Euro smartphone compared to other high end smartphones like the OnePlus One and iPhone 6 Plus, I’ll approach the CM1 purely as a compact camera that you can make calls on. This review has the focus on image quality and camera features. How does it perform?

CM1 screen size vs LX100

The CM1 offers the largest and highest resolution screens for compositions on any compact, mirrorless or DSLR camera

The main use of a phone camera for me is it’s about recording and documenting your life, so you have a timeline of shots that you can look back on in years to come and remember things you’d otherwise have forgotten. It’s also a great artistic tool because whenever that magic light happens or whenever a rare event unfolds in front of you, a phone is always there to capture it and your DSLR won’t be.

So how much of a bump in quality does the CM1 offer over existing high end smartphones? It has to be compared with the high end ones, because of the price. 899 is a lot for a phone, indeed a lot for a compact camera as well. Remember, this is no Panasonic LX100 or Fuji X100 in terms of camera quality but it is priced similarly.

The most obvious camera to compare the CM1 to is the Sony RX100 Mark III which uses a pretty much identical sensor.

I kind of like how unpretentious the CM1 is. I am not someone who uses tons of apps or features on my smartphone, I mainly use it as a camera which I message people on, make calls with and listen to Spotify via a good set of headphones. I love that concept of putting the camera ahead of Angry Birds, thinness and outright CPU specs. Hot footing it around a city during the day, the CM1 will produce superior results to your iPhone 6, OnePlus One or Samsung Galaxy S5 on a technical level, but sometimes I find the colour science and ‘feel’ of the iPhone 6 Plus to be more pleasing and less clinical. Once indoors or in twilight and evening conditions, the CM1 has a tendency to get things wrong…

The low light contradiction

LX100
CM1
iPhone 6 Plus
Pixel size (microns)
3.86µ
2.4µ
1.5µ
Max aperture
F1.7
F2.8
F2.2
Slowest shutter for sharp handheld shot
1/10
1/50
1/4
Stabilisation
5 axis optical
None
Optical, electronic and auto best shot selection
Max ISO for ‘clean’ result
ISO 1600
ISO 800
ISO 200

Do you see the contradiction?

Following are crops from handheld shots…

cm1-vs-iphone6-lowlight2

cm1-vs-iphone6-lowlight

In the shot of the concert posters, the CM1 suffers from heavier noise reduction and some camera-shake at 1/30 blurring the edges of the poster text. So it looks softer than the iPhone at 8MP even though it has a 20Mp chip.

The iPhone on the other-hand used a crazy low shutter speed of 1/4 but then employed optical image stabilisation and a rapid-fire burst technique, from which it automatically selects the sharpest shot.

Because of the slow shutter speed, the iPhone didn’t need to boost the ISO to 3200 like the CM1 did at 1/30. The iPhone shot, astonishingly, was at ISO 160. That it is able to get a sharp handheld shot at 1/4 is a major advantage in low light over the CM1 which can barely get a sharp shot at 1/50, with 1/100 better advised. Taking shots quickly on a small & light smartphone gives you more camera shake than normal.

The iPhone’s faster F2.2 lens also helps versus the F2.8 of the CM1.

Heavy noise reduction in JPEGs and camera shake is evident in almost all of my CM1 shots taken at night but not in my iPhone shots. Whilst downsampling for Facebook hides the flaws to some degree, the gap between the iPhone 6 Plus and CM1 is now significantly narrower than the difference in sensor size would suggest…

CM1 iPhone 6 Plus

Can you tell them apart?

It’s a shame that such a clear resolution advantage in good light over other flagship smartphones is squandered when the sun goes down by a lack of intelligent software design and stabilisation.

Only for moving subjects in dim light does the CM1 have a real advantage, but we’re still talking 1/100 to get that advantage and therefore very high ISOs on 2.4 micron pixels – the results therefore are a lot nosier than the best high end compacts like the LX100 with 3.8 micron pixels.

How significant are the CM1’s advantages when we see them?

Undoubtably the CM1 has some advantages over other high end smartphone cameras, but how significant these are depend on the type of shot.

At very close focus distances, bokeh is much more pleasing and pronounced than on other high end smartphones. Here’s an example…

CM1 bokeh vs iPhone 6

CM1 bokeh iPhone 6 Plus bokeh

Easy to tell which is which in those shots! However this only works when you’re focussing very closely and the background is far away. The rest of the time you won’t really notice.

The other advantage is that the CM1 has better latitude for highlight retention. Where the iPhone would blow out a highlight, the CM1 will keep it and it doesn’t need to resort to software trickery to increase dynamic range in good light. You can shoot raw of course which helps further.

Panasonic CM1 highlight retention

At low ISOs the 20MP images do give a nice ability to zoom digitally without too much loss of quality. Here’s how much more resolution you have to play with than the 8MP iSight camera on the 6 Plus…

A 20MP still from the CM1 with the 8MP iPhone snap laid 1 to 1 over the top of it in Photoshop

A 20MP still from the CM1 with the 8MP iPhone snap laid 1 to 1 over the top of it in Photoshop

How significant these advantages are on a smartphone, I will leave for you to decide.

But when it does as poor job of auto-white balance in this shot compared to the warm iPhone 6 Plus version above… you really begin to wonder…

CM1 white balance

Manual control

The CM1 gives you far more extensive manual control over the default iPhone camera app.

Although apps do exist to give the iPhone uncompressed TIFF and manual exposure controls, they’re not as good as the CM1’s default camera app, which is the best part of the product really.

Whether you need the CM1’s full suite of manual control for handheld snapshots depends on how fast you need to take the shot. Without any real physical control of the settings you’re reliant on the touch screen menus to change things like aperture and shutter speed. It’s not a bad touch screen interface but it’s much slower to shoot manual with the CM1 than it is to shoot manual on the LX100 with dials and buttons. The click wheel around the lens is the only real physical control but it’s stiff, slow and of very limited usability. I often find it quicker just to use the touch screen to adjust stuff like ISO or aperture.

The 1080p and 4K video side of the camera of course has manual control too. How image quality compares to the iPhone 6 Plus in terms of video I’ll look at in a later article.

CM1 compared to the Sony RX100 Mark III

With the same sensor, here’s a 1:1 crop at ISO 3200…

CM1 vs RX100 M3

Very similar but the RX100 Mark III maintains better saturation at default Adobe Camera Raw settings, perhaps hinting towards a cleaner DSP & a less noisy highway between sensor and image processor.

Conclusion

After shooting with the CM1 in low light, it really is surprising how the slow shutter speeds and stabilisation catapult the iPhone 6 Plus into contention. The faster lens and much lower megapixel count also help. Whilst the CM1 is somewhat of a disappointment for dim light shooting it does hold its own during the day but even here there are issues – poor auto-white balance and clinical colour science. It either overcooks the reds and oranges, or goes too far the other way giving a yellow cast.

For me the CM1’s photo capabilities just aren’t good enough to make me switch platforms in the mobile world – a dramatic step when you have been happy with one side or the other for 6 years. Panasonic’s biggest challenge is that users very reluctantly swap phones, let alone from Android to iOS or iOS to Android. I’d rather use the excellent Panasonic LX100 in a spare pocket. Granted it isn’t the all-in-one camera / phone I really wanted and prayed the CM1 would succeed in giving me…but it’s far more fun to shoot with and the results are much nicer.

Panasonic are in a tricky strategic situation with this kind of device. It has to be high end and it is. But being high end, it has to compete against the best smartphones in the world as a smartphone and the best compacts in the world as a camera. It is neither. Too many compromise to get them in the same body it seems.

The post Panasonic CM1 review returns – just the camera this time appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

The camera user interface is generally very solid on the CM1 and responsive

The camera user interface is generally very solid on the CM1 and responsive

Panasonic have just released the best smartphone available for sensor size and image quality. A limited retail launch is underway now in Germany and France with the UK to follow by Christmas.

Against the backdrop of a run of hits from Panasonic like the GH4 and LX100, the CM1 unfortunately is the one that got away.

An inadequate replacement for your existing high end smartphone, even if you value the camera side.

Raw files in playback mode on the CM1

Raw files in playback mode on the CM1

Key specs

  • 20MP 1-inch CMOS sensor
  • F2.8 aperture, 28mm equivalent focal length
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • 4K continuous shooting at 15fps (stored as MP4 video files)
  • Raw capture
  • 1.1MP front camera
  • 4.7-inch 1080p display
  • Android 4.4
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S801 quad-core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB built-in memory
  • microSD cards up to 128GB
  • 2600mAh battery
  • 899 euros

Panasonic did such a great job recently with the LX100 design and build quality. The CM1’s design feels like Panasonic brought their smartphone team back out of retirement. Thickness isn’t actually the biggest problem for the CM1. The problem is the way it feels – and arguably the way it looks too.

For a phone designed for photographers, the CM1 has a curiously un-photographer like design. If Apple’s phones feel like they are carved by lasers from a block of aluminium and glass, the Panasonic CM1 feels like it has been cut with a hacksaw from the dashboard of a salesman’s company car.

It lacks any kind of soul whatsoever.

The CM1 sports an incredibly soulless and bland design

The CM1 sports an incredibly soulless and bland design

Size comparison, CM1 vs iPhone 6 Plus

Size comparison, CM1 vs iPhone 6 Plus

Ideas for strife

Over 2 years ago I raised the idea of a high end camera phone with a Panasonic product planner in Germany, on a visit to give some GH3 feedback. What I suggested though, was very different to what Panasonic have made with the CM1.

The iPhone has no choice but to trade sensor size for thinness and features like raw and physical controls for simplicity. The best way to compete with the iPhone is to in fact embellish it with an Lumix add-on. Make the integration between Lumix camera and iPhone seamless – avoid the need for users to carry two devices. It has to perform and behave like an all-in-one and it has to add minimal thickness or cheap plastic to the existing device. I told Panasonic not to put yet another mediocre Android handset on the market, but to produce a luxurious slice of aluminium with a shutter button with a 1″ sensor. This thin camera-back would clip on and double as a case.

Unfortunately Panasonic have produced a mediocre Android handset.

Perhaps understandably Panasonic did not want to embellish a ‘rival product’ but to compete head-to-head, at least in the ‘niche’ market for a photographer’s phone. If Panasonic think the CM1 as an all-round smartphone is good enough to go head to head with an iPhone 6 Plus they are deluding themselves. I’d rather have an add-on that seamlessly links to my iPhone’s lightning connector, with ultra high Leica-like build quality. Sure it would make the phone thicker but it would still be worth it because I’d get to stay with iOS.

CM1 alongside the iPhone 6 Plus

CM1 alongside the iPhone 6 Plus

Confused checkout girl

Sony did do something similar to my idea with the QX series but again, their execution is so far off the mark! Remember the whole point is that you don’t need to carry two devices around for phone and photos!! The very fact the chunky QX lenses make your phone un-pocketable defies the whole point of them – it means you’re better off carrying around a separate camera anyway!

I don’t want to do that for every waking moment of the day, just my phone, wallet and keys. Why can’t manufacturers understand this?

The CM1 next to the iPhone 6 Plus

The CM1 next to the iPhone 6 Plus

My real world CM1 experience began with a very confused checkout girl in Berlin. She said enjoy your camera… I said it was a phone. She said “OH”. As I stepped into a crowded Berlin I had my iPhone 6 Plus in one jacket pocket, CM1 in the other. The iPhone 6 Plus is 2014, the CM1 is 2004. iPhone is royalty. CM1 is office admin assistant. The mere act of using one in public becomes a bit uncomfortable. I’m not a snob, but I do like stylish phones and cameras. The CM1 just isn’t one. Apple are experts on feel and design statements. This isn’t empty air headed stuff, it is a critical part of the user experience. A phone is something you constantly have to feel and look at all day long. The choice of materials on the CM1 is atrocious. The big silver rim around the lens is metal, but it has fine grooves which collects fuzz from your pocket so it looks constantly dirty. The even bigger click wheel around the lens has rough serrated edges which graft against your hand all day. When holding an iPhone 6 and texting you have smooth surfaces against your hand. With the CM1 you have cheap rough metal and even cheaper faux plastic leather. The aluminium surround is thick and not made to seem less so by being dark, it’s luminous silver. Opening a flap to reveal the sim and memory card, the material reveals it’s true nature like a cold McDonalds. This stuff is nasty and has no place on such an expensive handset…

cm1-P8430001

Another let down is audio quality. For music via headphones it just isn’t as good as the iPhone 6. It doesn’t sound as detailed or as pleasing and you will especially notice if you have a good pair of headphones, which most premium smartphone users do.

The loud speaker quality on the phone is also way below that of the iPhone 6 Plus.

The market for a good all-in-one camera phone to rival Apple is massive so I don’t understand why Panasonic seem so unsure about the CM1’s positioning and design. It seems like a toe in the water kind of product. At Photokina when the CM1 was announced, a BBC news article about the CM1 ran in the top 6 most viewed not on their tech-sub section but on their front page news portal. What a shame the CM1 feels so lifeless given the amount of interest in it.

Ergonomics

Android takes some getting used to for an Apple user. Initially I hated it. Then I got used to it. It still feels less elegant, more clunky somehow – as if it has rougher edges, just like the phone does physically compared to the iPhone. It feels more soulless and functional. It nags about Google accounts and sending your data from a thousand parts of the operating system. However once you get rid of the terrible default keyboard and install your favourite apps, it isn’t THAT bad.

Android home screen on the CM1

Android home screen on the CM1

Sadly the cultural aesthetics of Android are tacky and I don’t want to be part of the club. Only Google can justify an Android logo that unknowingly looks like a South Park character. I always know when a Samsung Galaxy user is nearby because of the astonishingly irritating default whistling noise for messages. Removable plastic battery covers made of recycled 5 cent party cups, lots and lots of ridges and seams, very low end handsets crowded around in bargain bins across the world and high end Samsung users thinking that iPhone users care about the numbers on a spec sheet. Android phones are the green SMS bubbles amongst my free iMessages. As a cultural phenomena, it’s not a pretty one.

Android is only high end when it has the hardware to match. Samsung do a good job, as do HTC. Panasonic with the CM1 haven’t. For a 900 Euro smartphone, the only really premium features happen to be the screen and camera.

All the buttons are on the right side of the device too… this is really awkward and unnecessary and after sending data to Google a hundred times for product improvement and being asked to link my Google account to every part single app I’d had a really bad experience using it. They seem insecure about whether we like them or not and everything seemingly relays stuff back to HQ.

Camera and image quality

Click to download the original 20MP file. Same sensor as the Sony RX100 M3 and Panasonic FZ1000. Image processed from raw.

Click to download the original 20MP file. Same sensor as the Sony RX100 M3 and Panasonic FZ1000. Image processed from raw.

cm1-P1000013

Nice bokeh and a separation of background / subject is possible but only for close-ups

Finally, some better news. If you want the best stills quality available on the smartphone market and the most features, the CM1 will give you that.

Being a single device carried on you all the time though, the amount of shots you can muster on a day to day basis does increase… almost as dramatically as the quality. ISO 1600 is very much usable, both in JPEG and raw mode. High shutter speeds like 1/60 are selected where the iPhone will use something like 1/15 to keep ISO down. This significantly narrows performance between the two in low light, as long as nothing moves.

In fact image quality is not THAT earth-shatteringly different to the iPhone 6 for most purposes, especially if only shooting JPEG.

The iPhone 6 Plus has a flatter look to it, quite pleasing. The CM1 has a so-so standard picture profile, a more vividly pleasing one and a few more from their Lumix stills cameras.

Camera - Panasonic CM1 vs iPhone 6 Plus

Click for a closer look

CM1 100% crop

CM1 100% crop

iPhone 6 Plus 100% crop

iPhone 6 Plus 100% crop

The screen is a strong point of the CM1 (iPhone 6 Plus on the right)

The screen is a strong point of the CM1 (iPhone 6 Plus on the right)

The Leica 10mm F2.8 lens (28mm equivalent wide angle) is pretty good. Sharp, low distortion and bokeh is pleasingly smooth – surprising given the type of lens.

Unfortunately the CM1’s seemingly lacks any kind of stabilisation (no option is present in the menus anyway). Whereas the iPhone can take a sharp shot at ISO 80 in low light due to 1/5, the CM1 has to use 1/30 or often 1/60, bumping ISO to 1600. Although the sensor at 1″ is bigger than the one in the latest iPhone, you don’t always notice – a shallow depth of field can rarely be achieved unless your subject happens to be extremely close or at macro. 10mm is too wide to really isolate the subject from the background if they are more than half a meter away.

AF is very fast on the most part and rarely misses. Macro focus is a strong point, it does go very close.

In terms of stealth, unfortunately the CM1 isn’t discrete at all. The massive shiny silver disc on the back around the lens is unnecessary and as a click wheel it fails in terms of usability. Bare in mind that people commented negatively when the iPhone 6 Plus lens stuck out by 1mm, this is how sensitive the smartphone market is towards thinness. I know it’s ridiculous. But if you are going to have a fat phone, at the very least it has to look good.

The Leica 10mm F2.8 lens on the CM1

The Leica 10mm F2.8 lens on the CM1

The camera app is generally solid and Lumix-like but it does have a few problems of its own. If raw is selected you can’t take another shot until the camera has finished saving the raw file. Why can’t it write it in the background from the buffer?

Also 4K video is not actually “video” at all. It’s a stills mode shooting at a rate of 15fps with a VERY hefty crop to MP4 files. I can appreciate why such a small device might not be able to do 4K at 24p but for Panasonic to call 15fps “video” is not really right. Another poor choice of frame rate is 30fps for all the other options. This is especially baffling given the Europe-only launch, where the standard is 25p and 30p gives flicker.

No 25p or 50p for a Europe only release of the CM1 is a glaring omission

No 25p or 50p for a Europe only release of the CM1 is a glaring omission

The lens extends when in use so when you lay the phone down after taking a picture, the extended lens is the first thing that hits the table. If it extends when the phone is against a flat surface or being held with your hand over the lens, the motorised mechanism simply runs the risk of being damaged. Very often I’d get a “lens error” message. How long will it last?

The Leica lens on the CM1 extends when in use

The Leica lens on the CM1 extends when in use

There’s no 240fps slow-mo either. The iPhone 6 has this.

Battery life is right down at 200 shots, less of course because it’s a phone and you will use it as one presumably!!… Unless you put it on airplane mode and just use it as a slim compact camera. The battery isn’t interchangeable like it is on the LX100 so you can’t carry a spare.

The CM1 has extensive camera settings for a phone

The CM1 has extensive camera settings for a phone

Conclusion

I really wanted the CM1 to be good. It’s such a welcome concept. Instead, Panasonic seem as unsure about it as I do and the implementation is a mere toe in the water of the high end smartphone market. Up against massively stiff competition, the soulless design doesn’t do justice to the great sensor underneath, let alone compete with equivalently priced smartphones like the iPhone 6 Plus. Indeed flagship smartphones from other brands like Samsung cost far less and are much better smartphones!

Instead of offering small compromises, the CM1 asks the user to make large sacrifices. The CM1 asks the photographer to sell his iPhone and implores the owner of other high end smartphones to sacrifice the quality of their phone for better picture quality. There is a very large market for people wanting to upgrade the stills quality of their iPhone or Samsung flagship but Panasonic will give you this only by downgrading almost everything else. How much of the general public will be able to tolerate this remains to be seen. If you’re used to a relatively low end Android handset with chunky designs it probably won’t bother you. Amongst premium Apple & Samsung users I have a feeling the CM1 will see a high return rate.

A premium price tag then, but not a premium smartphone. My Panasonic LX100 and iPhone 6 Plus will sleep easy tonight.

The CM1 is a thick phone but a thin camera

The CM1 is a thick phone but a thin camera

Pros

  • Best camera sensor in any smartphone
  • Shoots raw and has huge camera feature-set
  • Good video quality in 1080p
  • Solid camera user interface on the most part
  • High ISO performance very good for a smartphone (usable ISO 1600 and 3200)
  • High continuous burst rates
  • Very fast AF
  • Well implemented manual focus and manual control modes
  • Live histogram, plenty of options (even peaking)
  • Full HD (1080p) screen and good colour / contrast calibration options

Cons

  • As a smartphone it’s simply not good enough for me to part with iPhone 6 Plus
  • If it can’t replace my existing phone, it absolutely no purpose as a camera (may as well use a separate high end compact like the LX100)
  • Soulless design
  • Rough to the touch, poor choice of materials in the construction
  • Way too expensive at 899 Euros
  • Very mediocre implementation of Android
  • Too thick by modern smartphone standards
  • Weak audio output quality
  • No 25p or 24p. Europe-only release and they put ONLY 30p on it? Where’s the logic in that?
  • No slow-mo video at all (not even 60p)
  • Faux leather back feels cheap in the hand
  • Lens extends further in use
  • 4K is only 15fps, with very severe crop
  • 4 second lag when shooting raw before next shot can be taken
  • Weak battery life
  • Very limited availability
  • Lack of accessories at launch – no case included (one is free, but you have to send off for it in the post!)

Further pictures…

The headphone jack offers uninspired audio quality compared to the latest iPhones

The headphone jack offers uninspired audio quality compared to the latest iPhones

Nothing on the bottom side panel at all

Nothing on the bottom side panel at all

Awkwardly, all the buttons are on the right side panel - but the shutter button has a nice feel

Awkwardly, all the buttons are on the right side panel – but the shutter button has a nice feel

The extending lens is easily blocked and this happens

The extending lens is easily blocked and this happens

Android options on the CM1

Android options on the CM1

The iPhone 6 Plus is ultra thin by comparison

The iPhone 6 Plus is ultra thin by comparison

The post Panasonic CM1 Review – the smart-camera-phone appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

The camera user interface is generally very solid on the CM1 and responsive

The camera user interface is generally very solid on the CM1 and responsive

Panasonic have just released the best smartphone available for sensor size and image quality. A limited retail launch is underway now in Germany and France with the UK to follow by Christmas.

Against the backdrop of a run of hits from Panasonic like the GH4 and LX100, the CM1 unfortunately is the one that got away.

An inadequate replacement for your existing high end smartphone, even if you value the camera side.

Raw files in playback mode on the CM1

Raw files in playback mode on the CM1

Key specs

  • 20MP 1-inch CMOS sensor
  • F2.8 aperture, 28mm equivalent focal length
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • 4K continuous shooting at 15fps (stored as MP4 video files)
  • Raw capture
  • 1.1MP front camera
  • 4.7-inch 1080p display
  • Android 4.4
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S801 quad-core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB built-in memory
  • microSD cards up to 128GB
  • 2600mAh battery
  • 899 euros

Panasonic did such a great job recently with the LX100 design and build quality. The CM1’s design feels like Panasonic brought their smartphone team back out of retirement. Thickness isn’t actually the biggest problem for the CM1. The problem is the way it feels – and arguably the way it looks too.

For a phone designed for photographers, the CM1 has a curiously un-photographer like design. If Apple’s phones feel like they are carved by lasers from a block of aluminium and glass, the Panasonic CM1 feels like it has been cut with a hacksaw from the dashboard of a salesman’s company car.

It lacks any kind of soul whatsoever.

The CM1 sports an incredibly soulless and bland design

The CM1 sports an incredibly soulless and bland design

Size comparison, CM1 vs iPhone 6 Plus

Size comparison, CM1 vs iPhone 6 Plus

Ideas for strife

Over 2 years ago I raised the idea of a high end camera phone with a Panasonic product planner in Germany, on a visit to give some GH3 feedback. What I suggested though, was very different to what Panasonic have made with the CM1.

The iPhone has no choice but to trade sensor size for thinness and features like raw and physical controls for simplicity. The best way to compete with the iPhone is to in fact embellish it with an Lumix add-on. Make the integration between Lumix camera and iPhone seamless – avoid the need for users to carry two devices. It has to perform and behave like an all-in-one and it has to add minimal thickness or cheap plastic to the existing device. I told Panasonic not to put yet another mediocre Android handset on the market, but to produce a luxurious slice of aluminium with a shutter button with a 1″ sensor. This thin camera-back would clip on and double as a case.

Unfortunately Panasonic have produced a mediocre Android handset.

Perhaps understandably Panasonic did not want to embellish a ‘rival product’ but to compete head-to-head, at least in the ‘niche’ market for a photographer’s phone. If Panasonic think the CM1 as an all-round smartphone is good enough to go head to head with an iPhone 6 Plus they are deluding themselves. I’d rather have an add-on that seamlessly links to my iPhone’s lightning connector, with ultra high Leica-like build quality. Sure it would make the phone thicker but it would still be worth it because I’d get to stay with iOS.

CM1 alongside the iPhone 6 Plus

CM1 alongside the iPhone 6 Plus

Confused checkout girl

Sony did do something similar to my idea with the QX series but again, their execution is so far off the mark! Remember the whole point is that you don’t need to carry two devices around for phone and photos!! The very fact the chunky QX lenses make your phone un-pocketable defies the whole point of them – it means you’re better off carrying around a separate camera anyway!

I don’t want to do that for every waking moment of the day, just my phone, wallet and keys. Why can’t manufacturers understand this?

The CM1 next to the iPhone 6 Plus

The CM1 next to the iPhone 6 Plus

My real world CM1 experience began with a very confused checkout girl in Berlin. She said enjoy your camera… I said it was a phone. She said “OH”. As I stepped into a crowded Berlin I had my iPhone 6 Plus in one jacket pocket, CM1 in the other. The iPhone 6 Plus is 2014, the CM1 is 2004. iPhone is royalty. CM1 is office admin assistant. The mere act of using one in public becomes a bit uncomfortable. I’m not a snob, but I do like stylish phones and cameras. The CM1 just isn’t one. Apple are experts on feel and design statements. This isn’t empty air headed stuff, it is a critical part of the user experience. A phone is something you constantly have to feel and look at all day long. The choice of materials on the CM1 is atrocious. The big silver rim around the lens is metal, but it has fine grooves which collects fuzz from your pocket so it looks constantly dirty. The even bigger click wheel around the lens has rough serrated edges which graft against your hand all day. When holding an iPhone 6 and texting you have smooth surfaces against your hand. With the CM1 you have cheap rough metal and even cheaper faux plastic leather. The aluminium surround is thick and not made to seem less so by being dark, it’s luminous silver. Opening a flap to reveal the sim and memory card, the material reveals it’s true nature like a cold McDonalds. This stuff is nasty and has no place on such an expensive handset…

cm1-P8430001

Another let down is audio quality. For music via headphones it just isn’t as good as the iPhone 6. It doesn’t sound as detailed or as pleasing and you will especially notice if you have a good pair of headphones, which most premium smartphone users do.

The loud speaker quality on the phone is also way below that of the iPhone 6 Plus.

The market for a good all-in-one camera phone to rival Apple is massive so I don’t understand why Panasonic seem so unsure about the CM1’s positioning and design. It seems like a toe in the water kind of product. At Photokina when the CM1 was announced, a BBC news article about the CM1 ran in the top 6 most viewed not on their tech-sub section but on their front page news portal. What a shame the CM1 feels so lifeless given the amount of interest in it.

Ergonomics

Android takes some getting used to for an Apple user. Initially I hated it. Then I got used to it. It still feels less elegant, more clunky somehow – as if it has rougher edges, just like the phone does physically compared to the iPhone. It feels more soulless and functional. It nags about Google accounts and sending your data from a thousand parts of the operating system. However once you get rid of the terrible default keyboard and install your favourite apps, it isn’t THAT bad.

Android home screen on the CM1

Android home screen on the CM1

Sadly the cultural aesthetics of Android are tacky and I don’t want to be part of the club. Only Google can justify an Android logo that unknowingly looks like a South Park character. I always know when a Samsung Galaxy user is nearby because of the astonishingly irritating default whistling noise for messages. Removable plastic battery covers made of recycled 5 cent party cups, lots and lots of ridges and seams, very low end handsets crowded around in bargain bins across the world and high end Samsung users thinking that iPhone users care about the numbers on a spec sheet. Android phones are the green SMS bubbles amongst my free iMessages. As a cultural phenomena, it’s not a pretty one.

Android is only high end when it has the hardware to match. Samsung do a good job, as do HTC. Panasonic with the CM1 haven’t. For a 900 Euro smartphone, the only really premium features happen to be the screen and camera.

All the buttons are on the right side of the device too… this is really awkward and unnecessary and after sending data to Google a hundred times for product improvement and being asked to link my Google account to every part single app I’d had a really bad experience using it. They seem insecure about whether we like them or not and everything seemingly relays stuff back to HQ.

Camera and image quality

Click to download the original 20MP file. Same sensor as the Sony RX100 M3 and Panasonic FZ1000. Image processed from raw.

Click to download the original 20MP file. Same sensor as the Sony RX100 M3 and Panasonic FZ1000. Image processed from raw.

cm1-P1000013

Nice bokeh and a separation of background / subject is possible but only for close-ups

Finally, some better news. If you want the best stills quality available on the smartphone market and the most features, the CM1 will give you that.

Being a single device carried on you all the time though, the amount of shots you can muster on a day to day basis does increase… almost as dramatically as the quality. ISO 1600 is very much usable, both in JPEG and raw mode. High shutter speeds like 1/60 are selected where the iPhone will use something like 1/15 to keep ISO down. This significantly narrows performance between the two in low light, as long as nothing moves.

In fact image quality is not THAT earth-shatteringly different to the iPhone 6 for most purposes, especially if only shooting JPEG.

The iPhone 6 Plus has a flatter look to it, quite pleasing. The CM1 has a so-so standard picture profile, a more vividly pleasing one and a few more from their Lumix stills cameras.

Camera - Panasonic CM1 vs iPhone 6 Plus

Click for a closer look

CM1 100% crop

CM1 100% crop

iPhone 6 Plus 100% crop

iPhone 6 Plus 100% crop

The screen is a strong point of the CM1 (iPhone 6 Plus on the right)

The screen is a strong point of the CM1 (iPhone 6 Plus on the right)

The Leica 10mm F2.8 lens (28mm equivalent wide angle) is pretty good. Sharp, low distortion and bokeh is pleasingly smooth – surprising given the type of lens.

Unfortunately the CM1’s seemingly lacks any kind of stabilisation (no option is present in the menus anyway). Whereas the iPhone can take a sharp shot at ISO 80 in low light due to 1/5, the CM1 has to use 1/30 or often 1/60, bumping ISO to 1600. Although the sensor at 1″ is bigger than the one in the latest iPhone, you don’t always notice – a shallow depth of field can rarely be achieved unless your subject happens to be extremely close or at macro. 10mm is too wide to really isolate the subject from the background if they are more than half a meter away.

AF is very fast on the most part and rarely misses. Macro focus is a strong point, it does go very close.

In terms of stealth, unfortunately the CM1 isn’t discrete at all. The massive shiny silver disc on the back around the lens is unnecessary and as a click wheel it fails in terms of usability. Bare in mind that people commented negatively when the iPhone 6 Plus lens stuck out by 1mm, this is how sensitive the smartphone market is towards thinness. I know it’s ridiculous. But if you are going to have a fat phone, at the very least it has to look good.

The Leica 10mm F2.8 lens on the CM1

The Leica 10mm F2.8 lens on the CM1

The camera app is generally solid and Lumix-like but it does have a few problems of its own. If raw is selected you can’t take another shot until the camera has finished saving the raw file. Why can’t it write it in the background from the buffer?

Also 4K video is not actually “video” at all. It’s a stills mode shooting at a rate of 15fps with a VERY hefty crop to MP4 files. I can appreciate why such a small device might not be able to do 4K at 24p but for Panasonic to call 15fps “video” is not really right. Another poor choice of frame rate is 30fps for all the other options. This is especially baffling given the Europe-only launch, where the standard is 25p and 30p gives flicker.

No 25p or 50p for a Europe only release of the CM1 is a glaring omission

No 25p or 50p for a Europe only release of the CM1 is a glaring omission

The lens extends when in use so when you lay the phone down after taking a picture, the extended lens is the first thing that hits the table. If it extends when the phone is against a flat surface or being held with your hand over the lens, the motorised mechanism simply runs the risk of being damaged. Very often I’d get a “lens error” message. How long will it last?

The Leica lens on the CM1 extends when in use

The Leica lens on the CM1 extends when in use

There’s no 240fps slow-mo either. The iPhone 6 has this.

Battery life is right down at 200 shots, less of course because it’s a phone and you will use it as one presumably!!… Unless you put it on airplane mode and just use it as a slim compact camera. The battery isn’t interchangeable like it is on the LX100 so you can’t carry a spare.

The CM1 has extensive camera settings for a phone

The CM1 has extensive camera settings for a phone

Conclusion

I really wanted the CM1 to be good. It’s such a welcome concept. Instead, Panasonic seem as unsure about it as I do and the implementation is a mere toe in the water of the high end smartphone market. Up against massively stiff competition, the soulless design doesn’t do justice to the great sensor underneath, let alone compete with equivalently priced smartphones like the iPhone 6 Plus. Indeed flagship smartphones from other brands like Samsung cost far less and are much better smartphones!

Instead of offering small compromises, the CM1 asks the user to make large sacrifices. The CM1 asks the photographer to sell his iPhone and implores the owner of other high end smartphones to sacrifice the quality of their phone for better picture quality. There is a very large market for people wanting to upgrade the stills quality of their iPhone or Samsung flagship but Panasonic will give you this only by downgrading almost everything else. How much of the general public will be able to tolerate this remains to be seen. If you’re used to a relatively low end Android handset with chunky designs it probably won’t bother you. Amongst premium Apple & Samsung users I have a feeling the CM1 will see a high return rate.

A premium price tag then, but not a premium smartphone. My Panasonic LX100 and iPhone 6 Plus will sleep easy tonight.

The CM1 is a thick phone but a thin camera

The CM1 is a thick phone but a thin camera

Pros

  • Best camera sensor in any smartphone
  • Shoots raw and has huge camera feature-set
  • Good video quality in 1080p
  • Solid camera user interface on the most part
  • High ISO performance very good for a smartphone (usable ISO 1600 and 3200)
  • High continuous burst rates
  • Very fast AF
  • Well implemented manual focus and manual control modes
  • Live histogram, plenty of options (even peaking)
  • Full HD (1080p) screen and good colour / contrast calibration options

Cons

  • As a smartphone it’s simply not good enough for me to part with iPhone 6 Plus
  • If it can’t replace my existing phone, it absolutely no purpose as a camera (may as well use a separate high end compact like the LX100)
  • Soulless design
  • Rough to the touch, poor choice of materials in the construction
  • Way too expensive at 899 Euros
  • Very mediocre implementation of Android
  • Too thick by modern smartphone standards
  • Weak audio output quality
  • No 25p or 24p. Europe-only release and they put ONLY 30p on it? Where’s the logic in that?
  • No slow-mo video at all (not even 60p)
  • Faux leather back feels cheap in the hand
  • Lens extends further in use
  • 4K is only 15fps, with very severe crop
  • 4 second lag when shooting raw before next shot can be taken
  • Weak battery life
  • Very limited availability
  • Lack of accessories at launch – no case included (one is free, but you have to send off for it in the post!)

Further pictures…

The headphone jack offers uninspired audio quality compared to the latest iPhones

The headphone jack offers uninspired audio quality compared to the latest iPhones

Nothing on the bottom side panel at all

Nothing on the bottom side panel at all

Awkwardly, all the buttons are on the right side panel - but the shutter button has a nice feel

Awkwardly, all the buttons are on the right side panel – but the shutter button has a nice feel

The extending lens is easily blocked and this happens

The extending lens is easily blocked and this happens

Android options on the CM1

Android options on the CM1

The iPhone 6 Plus is ultra thin by comparison

The iPhone 6 Plus is ultra thin by comparison

The post Panasonic CM1 Review – the smart-camera-phone appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

Click here to view the embedded video.

The FZ1000 is $897.99 – view full specs and details at B&H Photo Video here

The Panasonic FZ1000 is a bridge camera, but is it a bridge that actually leads anywhere? Read my FZ1000 review to find out…

Bridge cameras tend to be a little slow, which defeats the purpose of having a versatile super-zoom at your disposal. I loved what I was able to capture so effortlessly with the Sony RX10 but even that was too slow and clunky at times. Even high end bridge cameras have all tended to lack the faster processors and more advanced features found in higher end cameras, so it’s a genuine surprise to see how responsive the FZ1000 is.

I hesitated to review the FZ1000 at all. It meant buying a camera I might not need, because I have a GH4. Why not just put a 14-140mm on the GH4?

In 4K video mode on the GH4 that lens is equivalent to 32-322. The FZ1000’s zoom is considerably longer though, 35-592mm in 4K mode, 25-400mm for 1080p and stills. Shame you lose that 25mm wide end in 4K mode, where you’re shooting not on a 2.7x crop 1″ sensor but an even smaller 3.8x crop.

fz1000-gh4

The FZ1000 has other issues too. Build quality feels cheap compared to the Sony RX10, though the lens fairs better the body is very much a plastic fantastic.

The viewfinder though is better than the RX10 and it has 4K video as well as very effective-slow mo in 1080p at 120fps, where image quality is actually surprisingly good at the high frame rate.

The FZ1000 ends up being an almighty time saver and shot grabber. It’s able to do a one-shot AF lock-on so well at the start of a recording that it gets moments other cameras will miss. All the time we spend checking manual focus on a DSLR, racking focus, changing lenses, using bulky zooms, even bringing two zooms along for the ride only to find none of them focus closely enough at the long end, all that time wasted and you realise how much quicker the FZ1000 is able to get a similar shot. The moment you spot a moment you can capture it.

4K also means more freedom in post to further recompose your image, as if the compositional abilities of that massive zoom range wasn’t already enough. For stills it is even better because 4K frames are print quality and in that sense you are shooting stills at 25fps or 30fps continuous. Spatial resolution, as in time capture increases 5 fold over a typical DSLR burst mode and it can go on doing this for 30 minutes at a time.

Now within your own directorial control, on a set or in a studio you don’t need to operate this fast or zoom so far – just sometimes – but out on the streets you do, all the time. Moments come and go in the blink of an eye. If you’re slow then you’re relying on serendipity to get any good shots at all. Any news shooter or documentary filmmaker will tell you that speed is absolutely vital.

Performance and features

When the FZ1000 was released it lacked 24p in 4K mode. Now that’s been added along with different aspect ratios in 4K Photo Mode like on the GH4.

Although the FZ1000 is not entirely free of feature culling via firmware to position it as a lower end camera than the GH4 it is actually surprisingly intact given the much lower price.

Three more things stand out aside from the lens and 4K codec at 100Mbit/s just like the GH4.

  • 5 axis stabilisation (and it works pretty well)
  • 120fps 1080p slow-mo (100fps on the PAL version)
  • 1080p at 60p and 24p
  • EVF and fully articulated LCD

What’s not so useful?

  • Tiny GH2 battery
  • In 120fps mode stabilisation doesn’t work
  • SD card slot under the body rather than on the side
  • Still some micro-jitter with the stabilisation at such long focal lengths

Given the excellent battery life on Panasonic’s recent cameras like the GH4 and LX100, it’s a shame this camera does not use the GH4’s larger battery (after all the body is the same size) or ramp the build quality up to at least Sony RX10 level.

The camera is superbly light given the massive zoom lens it features, which makes for some very easy rigging…

FZ1000 - Bunny Suit

FZ100

4K is more than resolution

In extolling the virtues of the FZ1000 as an affordable 4K camera I’ve had a few people tweet “4K, so what, it isn’t all about resolution”. I agree entirely, it isn’t all about resolution but they are completely wrong in thinking 4K itself is only about resolution! I am constantly hearing that it isn’t all about sharpness. What I equate 4K with in my head is something very different to just ‘sharpnesss’. It offers a dramatic widening of the data path between the sensor and your final image that carries every single thing that describes that image – dynamic range, colour, tonality, signal to noise ratio, resolution – the whole kitchen sink. Quality leaps up.

With no binning, averaging or line skipping and instead reading out 4 times the information that describes the image, you are naturally going to end up with a more life-like image closer to what the sensor sees in the first place. Be it for 4K or 1080p delivery, both benefit.

Dynamic range increases, the files feel chunkier to grade. Colour is richer, less thin and skin tones less plastic. And yeah, detail increases but it also looks far cleaner, with virtually no false detail, moire or aliasing in the final result especially if downscaling to 1080p in post. So to see 4K with all these advantages appear for under $1000 for the first time on the LX100 and FZ1000 is wonderful news for the consumer.

The 4K 100Mbit/s codec on the FZ1000 appears to be every bit as good as it is on the GH4 and it is double the bitrate of Sony’s XAVC-S implementation of 4K on the AX100. It’s also less than half the price of the AX100, more responsive, smaller and better ergonomically for both video and stills. It likely shares the same sensor too.

I’d choose it in a heartbeat over the Handycam and that’s not to say Sony are doing a bad job, it’s just that one particular products that failed to impress me. Anyone who wanted an AX100 but held off, should definitely now consider the FZ1000 if they haven’t gone for an interchangeable lens camera. For rolling shutter, dynamic range, low light – all the technical tests, these are coming in a separate article but the sample video above gives you an idea of what to expect for the first two.

FZ1000 still

Stills

The sensor in the FZ1000 is a known quantity for stills, being very similar the Sony RX100 series of 1″ 20MP chips. It is DSLR quality by ‘compact camera’ standards but with Panasonic themselves having redefined what compact quality means with the LX100, the FZ1000 is left trailing in terms of sensor size and low light performance to a compact now.

The Canon GX7 has a similar sensor and so does the Sony RX10, but the FZ1000 has faster AF than both of them and a much more interesting lens (not that the RX10’s lens was in any way not interesting!)

DSLR quality also involves a degree of being able to separate your subject from the background even if the shot you’re pulling off is not a close-up. Are we talking RX100 III style problems here where you can’t get any separation of the subject and the background unless you are stood within a few centimetres of them? No, because the lens is a 9-146mm. On the RX100 III it is approximately 9-25mm. A huge difference. At the longer end of this reach on the FZ1000 you get an extremely shallow depth of field. Indeed even at 50mm, compared to 25mm you will get a much shallower depth of field and be able to punch in on your subject.

EVF

The EVF is good by any standards in this class of camera. It is far better than the RX10. It is right up there with the GH4 though the glass does have more edge smearing going on when you move your eye about the eyecup.

The panel seems newer in the FZ1000 with great contrast and colour, a smidgen brighter looking than my GH4.

I’m spoilt for EVFs now I have the Fuji X-T1 though, which makes the EVF on every other camera even the Sony A7S feel a bit pokey.

Left: FZ1000. Right: GH4

Left: FZ1000. Right: GH4

Slow-mo

Slow-mo is definitely superior on this camera to 120fps on the Sony RX10.

In the menus it is dubbed High Speed Video, on / off. We have full 1080p at 120fps or 100fps depending on your region. The camera isn’t PAL / NTSC switchable unfortunately and you don’t have the same variety of variable frame rate options you get on the GH4. Combined with the rest of the features on the camera though, such as the 25-400mm lens, 120fps is a really special creative tool and produces results that are overall unique at $899. The quality is better than I expected, though the typical line-skipping is active as it is for similar slow-mo on the GH4 and A7S, meaning the HFR image isn’t free of moire or aliasing.

It looks at its best further away from the wide end of the lens and pointed at a human subject. The image is quite noisy in this mode so it isn’t a low-light slow-mo camera. The other issue is that stabilisation switches off, again a common thing with slow-mo modes on stills camera and I don’t know why. Stabilisation isn’t as critical for high speed video because when camera shake is slowed down so much it looks more like a gradual sway, but you still get some sway and OIS in this mode would have produced completely locked down shots. What a shame.

1080p

I don’t use 1080/24p or 60p in-camera on the FZ1000 because the 4K image is just way better. Also 1080p is AVCHD for the most part at low bitrates. 28Mbit/s for 1080/60p and 24Mbit/s for 30/24p. No 50Mbit/s or ALL-I like on the GH4. Switching to the MP4 codec eliminates AVCHD for 30/25/24p but introduces a drop to just 20Mbit/s, including for slow-mo mode. In 1080/60p it remains at 28Mbit/s. MP4 for 1080p is treated like a low quality option to make AVCHD, a Panasonic standard, look better. It is time AVCHD just died. Tell you what else’s odd…The Sony RX10 post firmware update does 1080p at double the bitrate of the FZ1000, but alas has no 4K. The Sony AX100 does 4K at half the bitrate of the FZ1000, alas the FZ1000 does 1080p at half the bitrate of the RX10! The whole situation is daft.

I don’t think many customers who buy the FZ1000 will miss an ALL-I codec but they might be pained to see AVCHD 1080p on there rather than the Quicktime MOV or MP4 wrapper. Playing and navigating the AVCHD folder is still a usability fail for Mac users, partly because of such poor Quicktime support for it still after all these years.

fz1000-4k-menu

Picture Profiles

The FZ1000 has all the picture profiles the GH4 does including CineLikeD but it doesn’t have a few of the deeper fine tuning options in the menus like master pedestal.

I thought for a second Panasonic might have removed this because the average consumer doesn’t know what it is. But they left in the RGB luminance levels option, 0-255 / 16-255!

Ergonomics

Sometimes picking up the FZ1000 it is easy to mistake it for a GH4. It’s good to see that like Canon, Panasonic have settled on pretty much one set of ergonomics for their stills cameras. Well, at least three of them! GH3 and GH4 users will be right at home with it, as will GH2 and G6 owners in many ways. Some nice touches for a camera in this price range… although overall build quality isn’t one. It has a mic socket and you can also control audio manually in-camera, same as the GH4. I count this as a small miracle.

It has two function buttons on the top near the mode dial, GH4 only has one. It has the same handy dial on the top left as the GH4 for shooting rate and timer. The same rear lever for focus mode. The same Fn5 button which also toggles between the EVF / LCD manually, Fn3 / Q-menu is present and correct. The playback button is better placed, accessible one handed on the right near all the other buttons rather than stuck out on the far left corner like on the GH4. There’s no rear jog wheel but I was never a fan of this on the GH3 and GH4 anyway. The d-pad has ISO, WB, AF and focus zone on directional presses and a menu button in the middle. The video record button is nice and accessible next to the shutter button and the shutter release itself can be used to start and stop video recording, though when the camera stops it is a bit like pressing the brakes on a London bus. Recording is not laggy to start though and that’s more important!

On the right where the card door should be there’s the HDMI port, which does have one benefit – the cables don’t point into your face if the camera is rigged up on your shoulder. However, this isn’t a camera many users are going to want or need to rig up.

FZ1000 24p

The lens ring has a dual purpose. It can be toggled between zooming action and focus. Now with the AF lock-on at the start of a shot being a nice fast convenient substitute for manual focus here, there are of course times when you want to rack focus during a shot. At these times, the camera offers a superb feel to the focus ring and a plethora of aids. This is really good for a camera in this class. Peaking works whilst punched into the magnified focus assist and you can set the magnified zoom to appear in a window rather than taking up the whole composition on the LCD.

Conclusion

When it all comes down to it, the Panasonic FZ1000 is a GH4 with a 25-400mm lens for $899. A very good deal but the trade off for that is the noisier sensor full with 20MP and in 4K a rather small recording area of 3.8x crop, instead of 2.3x on the GH4 (relative to full frame). So it certainly isn’t a dim light camera. The lens is F2.8-4 so there’s no getting away from it. You will not be getting the results of a GH4 at F0.95 with the FZ1000 at night!

Instead it is a shot grabber extraordinaire, a brilliant travelling companion and an all round fun experience. It’s easy to justify the FZ1000 as a second camera if you need a shot grabber.

The FZ1000 is $897.99 – view full specs and details at B&H Photo Video here

Pros

  • Crisp and detailed video quality in 4K with 100Mbit/s codec
  • Very good value for money Leica 25-400mm equiv. lens
  • Very close focus distance (0.3-1m) throughout the range even at the longer end
  • Effective 5 axis image stabilisation even in video mode (though not active in High Speed Video mode)
  • Quick AF in both stills and video mode
  • Very nice EVF given the price point & class of camera
  • Price vs performance ratio makes it attractive and versatile second body
  • Good for beginners who don’t want to invest in, or change a bunch of lenses
  • Familiar and direct ergonomics
  • Responsive to use overall
  • Excellent 120fps high speed video mode
  • Very good raw stills quality in good light, from Sony 20MP 1″ sensor
  • CineLike colour profiles like the GH4
  • Shallow depth of field at longer focal lengths
  • Excellent feel to manual focus and plenty of focus aids, such as peaking
  • Mic input and manual audio control, again unusual for camera in this class

Cons

  • 4K mode loses 25mm wide angle (becomes 35mm)
  • Small GH2 battery not larger GH4 pack
  • Charmless feel to body, build quality feels too plasticy
  • Stabilisation switches off in high speed video mode
  • Not a low light camera due to rather excessive megapixel count and 3.8x crop in 4K mode
  • Internal 1080p codec limited to low bitrates and no ALL-I recording
  • SD card slot in somewhat awkward place

The post Panasonic FZ1000 review – the bargain 4K super-zoom appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

Click here to view the embedded video.

As always, be sure to download the 4K version from Vimeo here to get any idea at all about the full image quality!

Not a Vimeo Plus member? Download one of my original NX1 4K clips here. This is H.265 converted to ProRes LT.

The NX1 costs $1499 body only or $1699 with the 16-50mm power zoom OIS lens.

The NX1 is a 4K camera out of the box but make no mistake, it is really a 6K camera. When the NX1 was being developed in Samsung’s lab, the sensor output ran at 6.5K raw at 240fps. Although the feature was only for debugging and not destined for consumers, this should give you an idea of the kind of hardware advances they have made with this camera and the new manufacturing techniques they are employing to get there.

The camera has a CPU with 5 cores (general purpose), 240fps object tracking. 4K video, H.265 and 1080/120fps. Further dedicated hardware cores handle various computational tasks rather than them being done in software.

With this camera Samsung are starting to put their boot into the camera industry in a big way.

And it shows in the images.

Panasonic GH4 (left) vs Samsung NX1 (right)

At the moment there are just three affordable interchangeable lens cameras that record 4K internally. First we had the Panasonic GH4 and Blackmagic Production Camera. Now we have the Samsung NX1.

Let’s start with that sensor. It is basically a portable, power efficient version of the CMOS in the 6K RED Dragon. It can do the 6.5K raw readout thanks to a copper process on the sensor that reduces resistance and therefore heat by 70%. It is the industry’s first 28MP APS-C sensor for stills cameras (Super 35mm in cinema terms) and the first backside illuminated APS-C sensor. You can read a great interview over at Imaging Resource with Samsung about this here.

At low ISOs I prefer the 4K video from the NX1 to both the GH4 and Blackmagic. Yet file sizes are smaller. This is down to H.265, the High Efficiency Video Codec which is H.264’s successor, and will one day be the most common video codec in the world. Right now it’s a bit of a pain. We’ll come to the workflow in a moment. However with file sizes 1/10th the size of the Blackmagic Production Camera’s 4K ProRes it shows once again the power Samsung have put inside this camera to crunch the numbers. Even the Mac Pro cannot encode H.265 anywhere near real-time without dedicated hardware to do the job.

Another notable aspect of the NX1 is it is the first 4K camera to run from Tizen, the Linux based operating system for smart devices, of which Samsung is a steering group member along with Intel. This operating system is incredibly responsive on the NX1 thanks to an extremely powerful processor. It uses a unique design that blends the programmability of a general purpose CPU with that of hardware dedicated for a certain task. It makes the electronics inside a 5D Mark III seem like they date back to the 70’s by comparison.

This camera can machine-gun off a continuous burst of 28MP raw at 15fps. That’s faster than Canon can do just 18MP at 14fps, alas they want $6000 for that kind of performance with the 1D X. The Samsung solution is $1599. By further comparison Sony’s latest 36MP sensor in the Nikon D810 only does 5fps.

Samsung NX1 - Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART

Samsung NX1

nx1-DSCF1129

No camera is perfect though and we’ll run through some of the weaker points in a moment. Although the AF system in the camera is absolutely cutting edge and unique on the market, it does become unreliable in low contrast conditions and in very dim light. Lenses can be an issue too, since Samsung simply do not have the kind of lens range to compete with Canon for stills with AF or for sports yet. But clearly Samsung has begun some kind of march to superiority with this camera. And one day I have no doubt they will reach the top.

Meanwhile Sony’s ascendancy to the top of the CMOS sensor industry has been pretty much unequalled until now, but Samsung look to be able to take that kind of leading step. The plan is to apply the same technology to other imaging devices “soon” along wide ISOCELL sensors in smartphones. The NX1 does not actually have an ISOCELL sensor but the design mimics one, minimising crosstalk between pixels. Make no mistake… Samsung are now capable of making some of the finest image sensors in the world.

H.265 – marketing, or a real advantage?

The H.265 codec on the Pro setting (highest) is 70Mbit/s 4:2:0. I confirmed this by looking at the file metadata. You benefit from a 30% space saving of 70Mbit compared to 100Mbit on the GH4, and that was already a very small file size for 4K. Here’s a full 4K frame, click to enlarge then drag to desktop for the 4K version…

Click me to enlarge

Click me to enlarge

Image quality is absolutely astounding in good light on this camera. Beautiful colour and RED-like feel to detail – neither too sharp or too soft, and plenty of it. The codec is able to hold onto that very well however I am not sure how much of that is down to the clearly superb sensor in the NX1 or the new codec. Would this camera have been just as good with H.264 at 100Mbit like the GH4?

I have my doubts about the codec because of the way it handles low contrast areas and high ISOs. It smudges away fine grain and introduces macro blocking in some cases, whilst H.264 in the GH4 doesn’t. The NX1 is not a great ISO 3200 camera for video but then neither is the GH4 and at ISO 1600 the NX1 is cleaner looking. Over well lit detailed areas of the image, the NX1 is super good in every way.

Although the NX1 gives you the smallest 4K files on the market today yet I can’t help feeling that Samsung have taken a marketing led decision to put H.265-only in the NX1. Without a more compatible codec like H.264 to fall back on it’s a decision that goes against the interests of the vast majority of their users. HEVC H.265 is a complex codec and transcoding is a very lengthy process especially in the supplied Samsung Movie Converter, which feels unfinished.

wondershare vs samsung movie converter NX1

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate supports H.265 files and 4K, transcoding to ProRes. The bundled Samsung NX1 app “Samsung Movie Converter” feels basic, unfinished and runs at half the speed.

My workflow

Findings on the workflow front so far are intriguing. What app you use to convert the files is critical to the quality and delivery time of the results.

A tiny 3 second clip took 40 seconds to convert in the Samsung app but less than half the time in an app called Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate.

The latter also has a better GUI and more options, including ProRes in various flavours, not just H.264. If you don’t want to buy a lifetime license for Wondershare a 1 year license costs just $39.99. It’s worth it.

In Samsung’s app a 7 second HEVC clip of 60MB grew to a 140MB H.264 file. That’s 200Mbit/s on the highest setting. Not too shabby but the problem is it takes AGES to transcode and the resulting file is taxing on the CPU to edit. The same 60MB HEVC clip becomes 260MB in Wondershare using ProRes LT – BUT the larger file is worth having because it is quicker to transcode and better for Premiere to deal with ProRes, less CPU overhead when editing 4K.

On default settings Wondershare crushes the hell out of the blacks, so you must put -12 in the contrast setting for the clip and then click Apply To All Clips before transcoding. It is vital you do this unless you want to lose nearly 2 stops of detail in the blacks.

Samsung-NX1-contrast-wondershare-video-converter-ultimate

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate click the pencil icon next to the clip, go to Effects, reduce contrast to -12 and then click Apply To All Videos before running the transcoding batch job.

There’s a marked quality and speed difference between Wondershare and the free app I found that accepts H.265 files – Handbrake. I cannot recommend Handbrake, it is cripplingly slow and it is awkward to manage a batch queue.

The only other thing to look out for is that Wondershare does put the tint a bit more towards magenta, which subtly alters skintones. Also warm oranges look a tiny bit duller with it. However these differences are so small, they’re trivial to overcome in the grade. I am using Film Convert Pro 2.1 and the Arri Alexa DCIP3 profile is a nice fit for the Standard picture profile on the NX1 with contrast -6 and sharpness -10.

I have disabled SmartRange+ in the camera menus for movies because it is some kind of auto-ISO adjustment which dynamically brightens shadows or darkens highlights on the fly. Not nice.

Unfortunately the is no way to get a really flat image out of the NX1 (certainly not S-LOG flat) but the end results do grade well regardless. A lot of people have this misconception that causes them to overrate a flat image profile and overrate things like peaking. Just because they are professional video features doesn’t mean to say you always need them. If colour is great straight out of the camera and you can tweak it in post, that is still a lot of freedom and you can concentrate on just shooting and do you grading with lights. Afterwards if you want to raise the blacks just lift the bottom of your RGB master curve. Easy!

My fear is that consumers without researching workflows or without the technical knowledge to deal with the NX1’s codec are in for a total nightmare, because they will likely spend ages trying without success to play or edit the H.265 files, before finally finding that tiny page in the tiny quickstart guide which unclearly points them towards i-Launcher, which does that protracted install just to give you a download link for a p*** poor conversion app. Once again Samsung need to up their game on the software side.

If you are someone who only watches movies from your camera via HDMI to your TV then it will be ok but if you just want to quickly view & edit clips on your PC then to get the right software and workflow takes technical knowledge and research.

NX1 top panel controls vs GH4

Low light performance and image quality vs the Panasonic GH4

What kind of ‘film stock’ is the NX1? Again I’d draw a comparison to RED’s 4K or 6K, it has a modern feel like the Canon C300, punchy and contrasty. Less like Super 16mm and quite different to the more restrained looking GH4.

This new Samsung sensor is a massive step forward for them, indeed the whole industry. In good light this sensor produces really top notch video. Beautiful Canon / Nikon-like colour but with the resolving power of the best 4K cinema cameras. Great dynamic range too, although perhaps 1 stop less in the highlights compared to the GH4 and 5D Mark III Raw.

In good light there is no grain, but there is a LOT of fine detail. And it doesn’t look TOO sharp, it’s a bit softer than the GH4 with sharpness dialled all the way down on both. It looks nicely cinematic, certainly the 1.5x crop helps vs 2.3x on the GH4 without Speed Booster. I prefer the colour I am getting out of the NX1 in 4K to the GH4.

Samsung NX1 - ISO 1600 (crop from 4K video frame)

Samsung NX1 – ISO 1600 (crop from 4K video frame)

Panasonic GH4 - ISO 1600 - crop from 4K video frame

Panasonic GH4 – ISO 1600 – crop from 4K video frame

At night if you can get a good exposure, you never need to worry about noise at ISO 800. Even ISO 1600 is OK for most shots as long as you get a decent exposure. ISO 3200 falls off a cliff most of the time. This is no A7S.

To be honest I am not sure where to place the blame for the poor ISO 3200 performance. Clearly the sensor itself is getting noisy at this level looking at the raw stills, but not overly so given the megapixel count approaching that of the D810! So it’s not really the sensor’s fault…the main problem is the blotchiness. It seems either the codec is making things mushy, by over-compressing and clipping the shadows or that aggressive noise reduction is kicking in despite being turned off in the menus. It could even be that noise reduction is applied aggressively in the debayer, before it even reaches the encoder or uncompressed HDMI port. For whatever reason the camera does not have a fine noise structure like the GH4 or C300.

Compared to the Sony A7S, the NX1 is definitely not in the same league for low light but then what is? Neither are Sony’s own $20,000 cinema cameras! A lot of people think that if a camera can’t shoot clean ISO 12,800 then it cannot be used for night shoots. Actually that’s not the case. On the city streets at night for example, the NX1 at ISO 1600 with a fast lens will look great. Some shots are pulled off better than others… The Sony A7S is obviously going to be better in this regard but it is only 1080p internally. The NX1 is cleaner than the GH4 but seems to have more noise reduction going on. Over finely detailed areas of the image this noise reduction leaves plenty of detail intact and plenty of rich colour saturation. This isn’t the case with the GH4 at ISO 1600 even if NR is applied in post.

Even in good light the GH4 has a more grainy, scratchy feel compared to the NX1. This isn’t necessarily worse but it is what I’d consider a massive ‘film stock’ difference.

In terms of pixel pitch the GH4 has 3.7 µm size pixels vs the NX1’s 3.6 µm, so very similar. However I feel the micro lens design, readout circuitry and other aspects of the sensor give the NX1 the edge in low light. What’s more, the GH4 reads 4K from a 1:1 crop of the sensor whilst the NX1 samples 4K from the entire sensor at 6.5K (around 23MP in 16:9) so the downsampling further reduces noise.

The Sony A7S has 8.7 µm pixels so out of reach for now.

Stills wise, ISO 3200 from the raw files is perfectly usable…

NX1 at ISO 3200

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1:1 crop of ISO 3200 (raw)

1:1 crop of ISO 3200 (raw still)

And ISO 800 is lovely and clean…

NX1 at ISO 800

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Shoot

Download one of my original NX1 4K clips here (studio scene at ISO 200). This is H.265 converted to ProRes LT.

I shot today in pretty terrible light. Grey sky, grey streets, grey everything. I had about 2 hours of this ‘so called light’ in Berlin, then it went dark. This is why I want to move to Spain! On the NX1, a cheap and cheerful kit zoom and that’s it. Today I got a passive Canon adapter and that allows me to adapt a lot of other stuff, but most of the footage you see here was shot at F5.6 in murky conditions.

Given the poor light today, the footage actually came out pretty well. Motion cadence looks extremely cinematic in 24p at 1/50. It somehow looks organic. I don’t know if this is because of the new codec. It might be. But essentially, motion blur looks like motion blur and not a blocky mess. Buttery smooth. This was NOT the case on my first transcode with Handbrake to H.264. Only with the better transcode to ProRes in Wondershare did I have this lovely filmic motion blur that actually looks like how a 180 degree shutter should.

Colour seems to haven no obvious problems, it is richly saturated without being over-cooked or digital looking.

The sensor in the NX1 I think is impressive but I still think 28MP is too much. I’d love for Samsung to make a low light version of this sensor. However the 6.5K sensor output is scaled beautifully to 4K without any moire or aliasing problems. The same can’t be said for the slow-mo 1080p or internal 1080p modes, but this camera is all about shooting in 4K where the sensor is off the leash. It’s also about taking those 4K files and producing lovely 1080p in Premiere with them.

The camera is PAL / NTSC switchable and also does a clean uncompressed 4K HDMI output. You can set it to the cinema standard of 4096 x 2160 24p as well as the TV standard of Ultra HD. This will be very interesting with the Atomos Shogun and should help the camera a lot in the shadows and at high ISOs.

The HDMI is 4:2:2 but still 8bit. So no 10bit like on the GH4.

Stills wise… let’s just say 28MP is a LOT of resolution to play with. Here’s a 1:1 crop from a full photo… (please excuse the soft lens and poor light!)

NX1 - a 28MP still

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1:1 crop of the 28MP NX1 still (raw)

1:1 crop (702 x 336) from a small portion of the full 28MP raw still

EVF

Again from Jay Kelbley – “The display refreshes at about 54 fps, but the key thing is that the EVF and the sensor are sychronized. The two are genlocked, so there’s always just a 5 ms lag between what’s hitting the sensor and what’s being displayed on the EVF’s current scan line. I think we’re the only ones who can do this.”

The EVF on the NX1 is impressive, far better than what Canon offer on their dedicated Cinema EOS cameras.

The optics aren’t as good as the Fuji X-T1, with more distortion and it feels more cramped due to a lower magnification, but it’s similar to the A7S and GH4 EVFs and counts as high end enough in my book.

The panel on the other-hand is really nice… inky blacks and super high resolution at 2.3MP.

Technology is one thing…

The main issue Samsung have at the moment is a lot of amazing technology waiting to find a purpose.

When you read the comments at Imaging Resource from Samsung’s Jay Kelbley saying they couldn’t recognise an application for the 6.5k at 240fps you have to wonder why they invented it in the first place.

Technology marches on… unless you are Canon! But what Canon do well is to recognise a need and then cater for it. Samsung recognise a technology (like curved OLED panels) then put it out there sometimes without there being a real desire amongst customers for it.

However the world would be a very dull place without them and I do think all this technology is leading somewhere.

Samsung NX1 vs GH4

A top down view of the Panasonic GH4 (right) and Samsung NX1 (left) with Sigma’s lovely fast ART lenses

Conclusion

The NX1 is the first Samsung I have ever wanted to keep. Serious photographic dealers have so far avoided them as have serious photographers. However for filmmakers especially, the NX1 is appealing. The 4K image it offers for $1599 is astonishingly good and in many ways better than the Panasonic GH4.

It’s a very serious camera for Samsung, but their job isn’t quite finished. The NX1 lacks the kind of filmmaker feedback clearly present in the GH4 and the broad range of codecs as well as advanced settings like master pedestal and luma-range (0-255). The GH4 will soon get V-LOG (Panasonic’s answer to S-LOG 2 on the Sony A7S) and I hope that Samsung consider a similar firmware update for the NX1.

If you only shoot with ONE camera and you need a full frame sensor along with astounding low light performance clearly the Sony A7S is still the way to go. But the NX1 arguably packs in the most advanced technology. Having an internal 4K codec in the NX1 sets it apart from the A7S in another way.

What of the choice between this and the Panasonic GH4? If you’re already a GH4 owner with Speed Booster and an investment in lenses, I’d be tempted to stick with it. However if you prefer the colour science of the NX1 and the look it delivers overall, plus you want an actual Super 35mm sensor with 1.5x crop rather than the 1.7x crop you get on the GH4 in 4K with Speed Booster, then the NX1 should be seriously considered.

Pros

  • Stunning 4K video quality at ISO 200-800
  • Super 35mm / APS-C size sensor
  • Usable ISO 1600 despite crowded 28MP sensor
  • 3200 usable for raw stills
  • Superb build quality
  • Very nice to handle, excellent ergonomics
  • Unfussy controls and sensible menus / screen layout
  • Very high quality AMOLED LCD and EVF
  • Superbly implemented peaking, responsive and detailed
  • Clean 4K HDMI output for uncompressed quality is 4096 x 2160 (Atomos Shogun)
  • DCI 4K and Ultra HD like the GH4
  • Good colour out of the box on default picture profile setting
  • H.265 saves space on card and when master files are archived
  • Super 35mm sensor size (APS-C) perfect match to cinema lenses (and the look)
  • Superb stills, very high resolution (see here vs D750 and A7S)
  • Good dynamic range in both 4K video and stills
  • 1080/120fps slow-mo quality is improvement over GH4’s 96fps
  • Very advanced AF tracking system
  • Lightning fast AF for stills in good light with certain NX lenses
  • Extremely fast 15fps continuous shooting rates at 28MP
  • Large battery capacity
  • Attractive styling, fits well with Sigma ART lenses
  • Mount can take Canon and Nikon lenses (though aperture control can be fiddly)
  • PAL / NTSC switchable – 4K at 30,25,24p as well as 1080/60/50p
  • Very responsive and quick to start and shut down
  • Useful top LCD panel
  • Well placed video record button
  • Manual ISO adjustment can be applied to rear jog wheel for quick exposure changes
  • Exposure changes are smooth fading rather than stepped, during recording
  • Headphone & mic sockets along with audio meters & mic level control
  • OIS generally works well on Samsung 16-50mm power zoom and 16-50mm F2.0-2.8

Cons

  • 4K H.265 codec does not maintain a fine noise grain
  • H.265 takes time-consuming transcoding step to ProRes, as cannot (yet) be edited natively
  • Rather a lot of blocking in low contrast areas and shadows
  • ISO 1600 is really the maximum for video (it’s no A7S)
  • NX lens mount won’t accomodate a Metabones Speed Booster for full frame look
  • Limited customisability of function buttons
  • No LOG picture profile for maximum dynamic range and grading flexibility
  • Optical distortion in centre of EVF can be distracting
  • EVF smaller optically than Fuji X-T1 (but very high resolution)
  • No adapter for electronic aperture control of Canon EF lenses yet
  • Rolling shutter in 4K still can be an issue (but it’s too bad given the 28MP full pixel readout!!)

The post Samsung NX1 Review – The glory of technology appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

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Samsung NX1 review is live and currently evolving, keep checking EOSHD for new stuff and sample footage.

The NX1 costs $1499 body only or $1699 with the 16-50mm power zoom OIS lens. Expected availability in the US: 28th November 2014.

I’ve been shooting with the Samsung NX1, an absolutely massive leap for camera technology – even a leap too far?

Take a cup of tea and enjoy my rolling review to find out whether the NX1 is a petulant robot here to make your life difficult, or pushing the bar higher for 4K and DSLRs.

Samsung have always played the specs game. Technology however, is one thing – how it is used and applied quite another. Use of technology requires culture, an artistic sensitivity and taste. The same goes whether you are a filmmaker or a camera designer. This is Canon’s secret. The 7D Mark II has dated technology under the hood compared to the NX1 but ergonomics so connected to the shooter – it feels like an extension of our hands. Same with the Cinema EOS line. Dated technology vs the Sony FS7 but flowing ergonomics and no need to workaround anything with regards lenses. Canon haven’t pushed the technology beyond what the user can handle, and they have applied it based on a very sound knowledge of how their customers use photographic tools, not consumer electronics.

The Samsung NX1 is a very exciting camera looking at the numbers, starting with the 28MP sensor with 6.5K raw video readout at up to 30fps for pristine DCI academy 4K (4096 x 2160).

It is the camera in video terms that 7D users were dreaming of and didn’t get.

A rather dusty 7D (Mark I) and the new NX1 plus special guest - Fuji X-T1 Chrome

A rather dusty 7D (Mark I) and the new NX1 plus special guest – Fuji X-T1 Chrome

ISOCELL is here

With the ISOCELL sensor in the NX1 new manufacturing techniques are employed by Samsung that leave the rest of the industry in its wake, even Sony. This is the first BSI (backside illuminated) APS-C sensor. A 65-nanometer (nm) low-power copper process rounds out the spec. This manufacturing method is lightyears ahead of the more common 180nm aluminium process used by others including Canon & Nikon.

Less heat means less noise and moving the wiring from the front of the sensor architecture to the back means larger pixels and again less noise, more dynamic range.

The sensor is so heat efficient it is able to output 6.5K raw video to feed an internal 4K encoder, running off a CPU that is perhaps 5 years of advances ahead of what Canon have in their $12,000 camera, the flagship 1D C. The NX1 is $1299. Astonishing.

The BSI structure of the sensor also allows it to run much faster – that makes 15fps continuous shooting and 4K video possible on such a large chip.

This sensor is front page news on image sensor journals and at industry conferences – it is genuinely a step into the future.

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Usability, first impressions

Upon unboxing the NX1, you hope and pray Samsung have applied such powerful technology sensibly.

They have. This is the most ergonomic camera Samsung have ever produced. It is very much in the mould of a Canon 7D Mark II. The ergonomics are unfussy and uncluttered. The body has superb form and flow. It isn’t too small (Sony A7S) or too clunky (Blackmagic Cinema Camera) and build quality reveals it to be an invincible magnesium-alloy body which makes a reassuring tank-like sound when you put it down.

The electronic usability of the camera, how you live and work in live-view mode, is also extremely impressive and surprising. Everything is just so responsive and direct, a single press away. Peaking is a prime example. It is fine-pitched, high resolution, clearly denotes the focus plane and super responsive. It feels agile and closely linked to the lens barrel as you rack focus. MF is just so quick and easy with this camera because it gives you such detailed feedback on where that focus actually is! Peaking also works whilst the entire display is magnified.

The last time I saw peaking this well implemented was on the Blackmagic cameras. Samsung have clearly been doing their homework on cinema cameras and how peaking SHOULD work. Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Nikon should learn from Samsung here. The zebra function too is excellent. Again very agile and fluid. It blinks as it should and though it lacks the customisability of the zebra on the GH4, it gets the job done clearly, simply and responsively.

nx1-DSCF1129

Clear thinking has extended to the physical buttons and dials. The top LCD panel – sensible. The mode dial – uncluttered. The ISO, AF, WB and metering buttons – placed together on their own top dial,  drive mode as part of that. It will be instantly familiar to high end Nikon users. The rear scroll dial is responsive, far more usable than the one on the GH4. There are no really strange button placements. It feels like Samsung have taken a bit of Canon 5D Mark III and a bit of Nikon D810 and fused them together.

The second thing that jumps out at you is speed.

In good light the AF system is a thing of magic. It covers the entire frame. In continuous mode, shimmering green boxes dance around as if being updated a zillion times per second to tracks your subject, under a half press of the shutter. The first impressions really are very good. I can’t wait to try this in the real world and compare it to pro-DSLR standard for stills & sports. A 15fps continuous shooting rate with the mechanical shutter rattles through 6.5K raw files one after the other which is just astounding for a camera of this price point. Faster than a $6000k Canon 1D X and of MUCH higher resolution. It feels like Samsung are being ambitious and it feels like a camera of the future, not of the here and now… and that leads me to the 4K codec.

H.265 – A strange case of Jekyll and Hyde

Initial impressions of image quality on this 4K monster are encouraging. Detailed areas of the image are extremely good. No moire or aliasing, crisp, solid detail, no sign of compression on these areas. Shadows and low contrast areas are a different story. Blockier than ProRes for sure. It will benefit from some work in post to add dithering noise grain over these areas. Not all shots will need it, but murky shadows don’t seem to be a strong point of this codec. It doesn’t maintain a fine noise grain, but it does maintain a huge amount of fine detail over the mids and well lit areas of the image.

Here’s a full 4K frame pulled from my H.265 test clip transcoded to H.264, all on highest quality settings.

Click to enlarge then drag the image to your desktop for pixel peeping…

samsung-nx1-4k

It is somewhat underexposed but if you look at the detail over the Fujifilm logo and around the lens you will see a refreshing lack of digital processing artefacts or over-sharpening, which is a first for a Samsung video file. Here’s the 100% crop of 4K:

NX1 4K 100% crop

This was recorded at 4096 x 2160, so a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

My unit is a retail camera and it came with a CD containing Adobe Lightroom 5. This is where things starts to get strange for the consumer, as well as for filmmakers.

We cannot yet just drop HVEC H.265 into our NLEs or double click and play them on a Mac. To do anything with the movie clips from the NX1 at the moment, you need to transcode. That’s bad, I don’t want to transcode, I want to edit HVEC instantly like I do with H.264. Support for this codec is either late coming from Adobe & Apple, or too soon on the NX1 side. Let’s hope this is rectified fast & that we don’t need workarounds or third party plugins for months before it ‘just works’.

It took a bit of head scratching to figure out even how to begin viewing H.265 files let alone editing them. On page 33 of the quick start guide bundled with the camera, finally I found out. Samsung Movie Converter is mentioned as being part of “i-Launcher”. This being a “smart-camera” though, the “i-Launcher” app is not merely bundled on a USB stick or CD, oh no. First you have to plug the NX1 via USB cable into your PC or Mac, then scratch your head whilst it does nothing. Then you realise that for some reason the memory card needs to be present in the camera for it to communicate at all with your computer via USB. Then you turn on the camera and on your computer an i-Launcher install disk appears, as if hosted onboard the camera. The installer launches, i-Launcher installs and erm, launches, but then does nothing but send you to a website. This website, which initially failed to load at all, finally arrived in my browser on a second try and rather than merely being a message to say the required apps had been installed successfully, asked me to then go and download them myself! This seems like a very long-winded way of giving us a bit of paper with a download link on it. No that is being too kind – it is a baffling and protracted pain in the arse!!!

Samsung i-Launcher

It goes on…upon installing i-Launcher to get those dreaded Samsung apps, you’re presented with an option – send user data to Samsung or… nope that is it. And the data it sends, although not personally identifiable is really the Spanish inquisition. It will even analyse how you use your photos – which social networks you upload them to, what functions of the camera you use right down to how much you use the “i” button on the lens. It isn’t very respectful or very graceful to be presented with this mandatory opt-in at the install stage. I removed i-Launcher soon after I downloaded the apps I needed to convert the movies.

The Samsung transcoding app itself, is shockingly poor. The UI on the Mac version won’t even allow you to drop movie clips over the app to bulk-add them, you’re forced back into the old style convention of clicking a button and tediously browsing directories to get to them. When you click a quality setting, the quality setting doesn’t show as selected in the drop down box. The app seems to be a rush job and a bad one at that. The Samsung Movie Converter app I saw at Photokina had options for ProRes. Bizarrely, now it does not. We can speculate all day as to why… but I somehow don’t think that ProRes license from Apple is going to be swift in coming for sworn enemies Samsung.

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The H.264 settings in several quality settings again with no mention of bitrate. Instead Samsung have used the absolutely bizarre measurement of decibels for the H.264 compression options. So there’s the mysterious best quality option, followed by one that says “H.264 -2db”. All of them transcode from H.265 very slowly!

For those who missed my earlier articles on HVEC H.265, basically this codec is the successor to plain old H.264, the fundamental basis of blocky YouTube cat videos the world over. HVEC uses futuristic (and processor intensive) analytical geometry to map and compress the image. The quality options in the camera menus are Normal, HQ and Pro which the in-camera help system helpfully articulates as ‘records normal, HQ or pro quality videos’. THANKS! I really have no idea what bitrate these settings are but I suspect Pro is 70Mbit and roughly equal to double that in H.264 so 140Mbit in GH4 terms. In theory the NX1 should have an edge here. The HQ setting I believe is 40Mbit/s. Remember these are not for 1080p but 4K – and that is VERY low datarate and file size for a 4K image, which is nice, yet it hopefully gives us image quality closer to ProRes data rates. To see if it does or not, is a key thing and I’m testing it now – I’ll update the review of course when I have found out how it performs in the real world.

For those who want to bypass the internal codec, yes a 4K HDMI is present but I’ve yet to test it with something like the Atomos Shogun.

VLC Player reported that my 113MB H.265 file converted in the Samsung transcoding app on the highest setting to a 200Mbit/s H.264 file, which was now 303MB (for 13 seconds). Clearly H.265 represents a nice space saving compared to H.264, but not when you need to keep hold of a H.264 copy of the H.265 file just to be able to edit the footage!!

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First impressions

The Samsung NX1 has only been with me a day but so far it has been great fun to use, despite the poor software and transcoding hassle of H.265.

In many ways this is a supercharged Panasonic GH4, with Super 35mm sensor and better build quality.

The compatibility issues of H.265 will diminish over time and I’m delighted with the handling (so far) and specs on offer for the price. I’m excited by the 4K video and 28MP stills quality (so far), colour seems accurate and skin-tones natural. The AF system is unbelievably fast in good light and perhaps most of all I am pleased with how the whole thing is built and put together. It really does feel like a pro-grade body.

Yet for all the technology under the hood, the NX1 cost me just 1599 euros including the 16-50mm power zoom kit lens.  So it seems South Korea finally has a worthy challenger to the Japanese in serious photographic equipment. If they continue drastically undercutting on price and outperforming on specs like this, as they have done so in the TV industry, they could pose a bit of a headache for Sony and Panasonic, indeed Canon and Nikon too.

The kit 16-50mm lens is responsive, sharp, has very effective OIS and is tiny but only F3.5-5.6. With faster glass (like the Samsung 16-55mm F2.0-2.8) I’m expecting the NX1 to come alive quite nicely. NX mount is mirrorless I can put a lot on it including my Cooke PL cine lenses. Metabones don’t do a Speed Booster for NX mount… yet. But I have ordered a cheap passive Canon EOS mount adapter so I can fit most of my SLR manual focus stuff to it in the meantime, with adapter rings.

I can see the NX1 fitting into my crowded camera bag as convenient Super 35mm 4K camera in good light, whilst the A7S does all the low light stuff. The Super 35mm sensor would be great for 4K with my APS-C or cinema lenses where full frame is too big. I can see it being very nice for stills where resolution is a priority at 28MP.  You can also save out frames from 4K video files in-camera to high quality 4096 x 2160 JPEGs. Add in very clever AF and great manual focus aids and it appears we have a keeper… but for now though takes these as very preliminary discoveries… I might change my mind! The litmus test is always in the images, the feel and how that new codec holds together.

Check back later in the week for the first NX1 footage.

The post The Samsung NX1 Review (evolving) – the legend of the un-editable codec and one giant leap for specs-kind! appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

nx1-DSCF1130

Samsung NX1 review is live and currently evolving, keep checking EOSHD for new stuff and sample footage.

The NX1 costs $1499 body only or $1699 with the 16-50mm power zoom OIS lens. Expected availability in the US: 28th November 2014.

I’ve been shooting with the Samsung NX1, an absolutely massive leap for camera technology – even a leap too far?

Take a cup of tea and enjoy my rolling review to find out whether the NX1 is a petulant robot here to make your life difficult, or pushing the bar higher for 4K and DSLRs.

Samsung have always played the specs game. Technology however, is one thing – how it is used and applied quite another. Use of technology requires culture, an artistic sensitivity and taste. The same goes whether you are a filmmaker or a camera designer. This is Canon’s secret. The 7D Mark II has dated technology under the hood compared to the NX1 but ergonomics so connected to the shooter – it feels like an extension of our hands. Same with the Cinema EOS line. Dated technology vs the Sony FS7 but flowing ergonomics and no need to workaround anything with regards lenses. Canon haven’t pushed the technology beyond what the user can handle, and they have applied it based on a very sound knowledge of how their customers use photographic tools, not consumer electronics.

The Samsung NX1 is a very exciting camera looking at the numbers, starting with the 28MP sensor with 6.5K raw video readout at up to 30fps for pristine DCI academy 4K (4096 x 2160).

It is the camera in video terms that 7D users were dreaming of and didn’t get.

A rather dusty 7D (Mark I) and the new NX1 plus special guest - Fuji X-T1 Chrome

A rather dusty 7D (Mark I) and the new NX1 plus special guest – Fuji X-T1 Chrome

ISOCELL is here

With the ISOCELL sensor in the NX1 new manufacturing techniques are employed by Samsung that leave the rest of the industry in its wake, even Sony. This is the first BSI (backside illuminated) APS-C sensor. A 65-nanometer (nm) low-power copper process rounds out the spec. This manufacturing method is lightyears ahead of the more common 180nm aluminium process used by others including Canon & Nikon.

Less heat means less noise and moving the wiring from the front of the sensor architecture to the back means larger pixels and again less noise, more dynamic range.

The sensor is so heat efficient it is able to output 6.5K raw video to feed an internal 4K encoder, running off a CPU that is perhaps 5 years of advances ahead of what Canon have in their $12,000 camera, the flagship 1D C. The NX1 is $1299. Astonishing.

The BSI structure of the sensor also allows it to run much faster – that makes 15fps continuous shooting and 4K video possible on such a large chip.

This sensor is front page news on image sensor journals and at industry conferences – it is genuinely a step into the future.

nx1-DSCF1131

Usability, first impressions

Upon unboxing the NX1, you hope and pray Samsung have applied such powerful technology sensibly.

They have. This is the most ergonomic camera Samsung have ever produced. It is very much in the mould of a Canon 7D Mark II. The ergonomics are unfussy and uncluttered. The body has superb form and flow. It isn’t too small (Sony A7S) or too clunky (Blackmagic Cinema Camera) and build quality reveals it to be an invincible magnesium-alloy body which makes a reassuring tank-like sound when you put it down.

The electronic usability of the camera, how you live and work in live-view mode, is also extremely impressive and surprising. Everything is just so responsive and direct, a single press away. Peaking is a prime example. It is fine-pitched, high resolution, clearly denotes the focus plane and super responsive. It feels agile and closely linked to the lens barrel as you rack focus. MF is just so quick and easy with this camera because it gives you such detailed feedback on where that focus actually is! Peaking also works whilst the entire display is magnified.

The last time I saw peaking this well implemented was on the Blackmagic cameras. Samsung have clearly been doing their homework on cinema cameras and how peaking SHOULD work. Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Nikon should learn from Samsung here. The zebra function too is excellent. Again very agile and fluid. It blinks as it should and though it lacks the customisability of the zebra on the GH4, it gets the job done clearly, simply and responsively.

nx1-DSCF1129

Clear thinking has extended to the physical buttons and dials. The top LCD panel – sensible. The mode dial – uncluttered. The ISO, AF, WB and metering buttons – placed together on their own top dial,  drive mode as part of that. It will be instantly familiar to high end Nikon users. The rear scroll dial is responsive, far more usable than the one on the GH4. There are no really strange button placements. It feels like Samsung have taken a bit of Canon 5D Mark III and a bit of Nikon D810 and fused them together.

The second thing that jumps out at you is speed.

In good light the AF system is a thing of magic. It covers the entire frame. In continuous mode, shimmering green boxes dance around as if being updated a zillion times per second to tracks your subject, under a half press of the shutter. The first impressions really are very good. I can’t wait to try this in the real world and compare it to pro-DSLR standard for stills & sports. A 15fps continuous shooting rate with the mechanical shutter rattles through 6.5K raw files one after the other which is just astounding for a camera of this price point. Faster than a $6000k Canon 1D X and of MUCH higher resolution. It feels like Samsung are being ambitious and it feels like a camera of the future, not of the here and now… and that leads me to the 4K codec.

H.265 – A strange case of Jekyll and Hyde

Initial impressions of image quality on this 4K monster are encouraging. Detailed areas of the image are extremely good. No moire or aliasing, crisp, solid detail, no sign of compression on these areas. Shadows and low contrast areas are a different story. Blockier than ProRes for sure. It will benefit from some work in post to add dithering noise grain over these areas. Not all shots will need it, but murky shadows don’t seem to be a strong point of this codec. It doesn’t maintain a fine noise grain, but it does maintain a huge amount of fine detail over the mids and well lit areas of the image.

Here’s a full 4K frame pulled from my H.265 test clip transcoded to H.264, all on highest quality settings.

Click to enlarge then drag the image to your desktop for pixel peeping…

samsung-nx1-4k

It is somewhat underexposed but if you look at the detail over the Fujifilm logo and around the lens you will see a refreshing lack of digital processing artefacts or over-sharpening, which is a first for a Samsung video file. Here’s the 100% crop of 4K:

NX1 4K 100% crop

This was recorded at 4096 x 2160, so a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

My unit is a retail camera and it came with a CD containing Adobe Lightroom 5. This is where things starts to get strange for the consumer, as well as for filmmakers.

We cannot yet just drop HVEC H.265 into our NLEs or double click and play them on a Mac. To do anything with the movie clips from the NX1 at the moment, you need to transcode. That’s bad, I don’t want to transcode, I want to edit HVEC instantly like I do with H.264. Support for this codec is either late coming from Adobe & Apple, or too soon on the NX1 side. Let’s hope this is rectified fast & that we don’t need workarounds or third party plugins for months before it ‘just works’.

It took a bit of head scratching to figure out even how to begin viewing H.265 files let alone editing them. On page 33 of the quick start guide bundled with the camera, finally I found out. Samsung Movie Converter is mentioned as being part of “i-Launcher”. This being a “smart-camera” though, the “i-Launcher” app is not merely bundled on a USB stick or CD, oh no. First you have to plug the NX1 via USB cable into your PC or Mac, then scratch your head whilst it does nothing. Then you realise that for some reason the memory card needs to be present in the camera for it to communicate at all with your computer via USB. Then you turn on the camera and on your computer an i-Launcher install disk appears, as if hosted onboard the camera. The installer launches, i-Launcher installs and erm, launches, but then does nothing but send you to a website. This website, which initially failed to load at all, finally arrived in my browser on a second try and rather than merely being a message to say the required apps had been installed successfully, asked me to then go and download them myself! This seems like a very long-winded way of giving us a bit of paper with a download link on it. No that is being too kind – it is a baffling and protracted pain in the arse!!!

Samsung i-Launcher

It goes on…upon installing i-Launcher to get those dreaded Samsung apps, you’re presented with an option – send user data to Samsung or… nope that is it. And the data it sends, although not personally identifiable is really the Spanish inquisition. It will even analyse how you use your photos – which social networks you upload them to, what functions of the camera you use right down to how much you use the “i” button on the lens. It isn’t very respectful or very graceful to be presented with this mandatory opt-in at the install stage. I removed i-Launcher soon after I downloaded the apps I needed to convert the movies.

The Samsung transcoding app itself, is shockingly poor. The UI on the Mac version won’t even allow you to drop movie clips over the app to bulk-add them, you’re forced back into the old style convention of clicking a button and tediously browsing directories to get to them. When you click a quality setting, the quality setting doesn’t show as selected in the drop down box. The app seems to be a rush job and a bad one at that. The Samsung Movie Converter app I saw at Photokina had options for ProRes. Bizarrely, now it does not. We can speculate all day as to why… but I somehow don’t think that ProRes license from Apple is going to be swift in coming for sworn enemies Samsung.

nx1-DSCF1126

The H.264 settings in several quality settings again with no mention of bitrate. Instead Samsung have used the absolutely bizarre measurement of decibels for the H.264 compression options. So there’s the mysterious best quality option, followed by one that says “H.264 -2db”. All of them transcode from H.265 very slowly!

For those who missed my earlier articles on HVEC H.265, basically this codec is the successor to plain old H.264, the fundamental basis of blocky YouTube cat videos the world over. HVEC uses futuristic (and processor intensive) analytical geometry to map and compress the image. The quality options in the camera menus are Normal, HQ and Pro which the in-camera help system helpfully articulates as ‘records normal, HQ or pro quality videos’. THANKS! I really have no idea what bitrate these settings are but I suspect Pro is 70Mbit and roughly equal to double that in H.264 so 140Mbit in GH4 terms. In theory the NX1 should have an edge here. The HQ setting I believe is 40Mbit/s. Remember these are not for 1080p but 4K – and that is VERY low datarate and file size for a 4K image, which is nice, yet it hopefully gives us image quality closer to ProRes data rates. To see if it does or not, is a key thing and I’m testing it now – I’ll update the review of course when I have found out how it performs in the real world.

For those who want to bypass the internal codec, yes a 4K HDMI is present but I’ve yet to test it with something like the Atomos Shogun.

VLC Player reported that my 113MB H.265 file converted in the Samsung transcoding app on the highest setting to a 200Mbit/s H.264 file, which was now 303MB (for 13 seconds). Clearly H.265 represents a nice space saving compared to H.264, but not when you need to keep hold of a H.264 copy of the H.265 file just to be able to edit the footage!!

nx1-DSCF1127

First impressions

The Samsung NX1 has only been with me a day but so far it has been great fun to use, despite the poor software and transcoding hassle of H.265.

In many ways this is a supercharged Panasonic GH4, with Super 35mm sensor and better build quality.

The compatibility issues of H.265 will diminish over time and I’m delighted with the handling (so far) and specs on offer for the price. I’m excited by the 4K video and 28MP stills quality (so far), colour seems accurate and skin-tones natural. The AF system is unbelievably fast in good light and perhaps most of all I am pleased with how the whole thing is built and put together. It really does feel like a pro-grade body.

Yet for all the technology under the hood, the NX1 cost me just 1599 euros including the 16-50mm power zoom kit lens.  So it seems South Korea finally has a worthy challenger to the Japanese in serious photographic equipment. If they continue drastically undercutting on price and outperforming on specs like this, as they have done so in the TV industry, they could pose a bit of a headache for Sony and Panasonic, indeed Canon and Nikon too.

The kit 16-50mm lens is responsive, sharp, has very effective OIS and is tiny but only F3.5-5.6. With faster glass (like the Samsung 16-55mm F2.0-2.8) I’m expecting the NX1 to come alive quite nicely. NX mount is mirrorless I can put a lot on it including my Cooke PL cine lenses. Metabones don’t do a Speed Booster for NX mount… yet. But I have ordered a cheap passive Canon EOS mount adapter so I can fit most of my SLR manual focus stuff to it in the meantime, with adapter rings.

I can see the NX1 fitting into my crowded camera bag as convenient Super 35mm 4K camera in good light, whilst the A7S does all the low light stuff. The Super 35mm sensor would be great for 4K with my APS-C or cinema lenses where full frame is too big. I can see it being very nice for stills where resolution is a priority at 28MP.  You can also save out frames from 4K video files in-camera to high quality 4096 x 2160 JPEGs. Add in very clever AF and great manual focus aids and it appears we have a keeper… but for now though takes these as very preliminary discoveries… I might change my mind! The litmus test is always in the images, the feel and how that new codec holds together.

Check back later in the week for the first NX1 footage.

The post The Samsung NX1 Review (evolving) – the legend of the un-editable codec and one giant leap for specs-kind! appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

GH4 with Cooke cinema lens

Read my thoughts at DPReview in the Panasonic GH4 review (page 7), here

As was the case with the GH3, the GH4’s video capabilities were enough to achieve a gold award at DPReview.

You can read my full contribution to the DPReview at the link above, but here in shortened form is the crux of it –

The biggest single advantage of the $1600 Panasonic GH4 is how complete it is straight out of the box and how affordable it is relative to professional cinema cameras. The GH4’s video capability is well specified even in comparison to professional cinema cameras upwards of $10k. Although there are many reasons why outright specs are not the whole story, the GH4 has found favour in the professional filmmaking community because it’s small and simple to capture 4K with.

The GH4 however still requires a few add-ons for a professional workflow, especially on the audio-side. The appeal of cameras like the Canon C300 at $15k to pros is that the blocks come integrated and ready to use out of the box. XLR audio interfaces, ND filters and a top handle are examples of features the GH4 needs to be outfitted with whereas often more expensive pro video tools like the Canon C300 often don’t (although often cinema cameras like the Epic and Alexa, conversely, do). However the fact is that the GH4’s image is better specified for today’s world than the C300. The 4K output of the GH4 can produce oversampled 1080p in post at a higher bitrate and colour depth than the C300, at a price of $1600 compared to $15,000. Also the C300 does not capture true 24p on the sensor, instead scanning at 60fps in all modes and skipping frames to produce 24p on the image processor. The GH4 also benefits from a smaller size, smaller lenses, lower weight and even the option for 60p and 96fps slow-mo whereas the C300 tops out at 30fps despite the sensor being capable of 4K at up to 60fps.

Panasonic GH4 with Canon 85mm F1.2L

Whilst it’s true many pros became fed up with the workflow of DSLRs for video, many of them came back to cameras like the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7S this year as another tool for the job alongside their existing ones and sometimes in-place of their existing ones (notably the 5D Mark III). In the past, the need to sync audio from a separate recorder, the lack of proper audio inputs like balanced XLR jacks with phantom power, the lack of basic focus and exposure aids and wobbly HDMI connections were the bugbear of professional DSLR shooting. The YAGH interface unit for the GH4 solves all of the workflow quibbles pros left DSLRs for the C300 for and most consumers don’t actually need the same fast, robust workflow as pros do as they have the time on their hands to deal with workarounds.

Whilst the C300 still has a low-light advantage over the GH4, the same cannot be said by comparison to the Sony A7S – so that camera makes a great pairing with the GH4, covering for the only major weak-area of the camera – the smaller sensor and noisier image.

Conclusion

A professional will always gravitate towards the best tool for a particular job rather than a single camera for everything. In this respect the GH4 has already carved out a place for itself with a small and light physical form-factor and small data footprint of the 4K recordings. The small size and internal 4K codec makes it ideal for projects involving MoVi-like gimbals, steadicams and aerial imaging from drones, where the final delivery of material will be 4K. This is true right up at the highest leagues of the filmmaking industry because higher end cameras don’t share the same light footprint of the GH4. Especially in the case of aerial work, the extra resolution of 4K is an undoubtable advantage over 1080p.

In fairness though, the GH4 is not so much a ‘replacement’ for a professional cinema camera, more an additional option for the filmmaker which will be selected when the unique abilities of the tool are required by certain work. The simple fact that there’s even a comparison to be made to a $15,000 cinema camera says a lot about how far Panasonic has reached to connect with filmmakers.

The post DPReview give Panasonic GH4 gold award, with filmmaker’s perspective by EOSHD appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

GH4 with Cooke cinema lens

Read my thoughts at DPReview in the Panasonic GH4 review (page 7), here

As was the case with the GH3, the GH4’s video capabilities were enough to achieve a gold award at DPReview.

You can read my full contribution to the DPReview at the link above, but here in shortened form is the crux of it –

The biggest single advantage of the $1600 Panasonic GH4 is how complete it is straight out of the box and how affordable it is relative to professional cinema cameras. The GH4’s video capability is well specified even in comparison to professional cinema cameras upwards of $10k. Although there are many reasons why outright specs are not the whole story, the GH4 has found favour in the professional filmmaking community because it’s small and simple to capture 4K with.

The GH4 however still requires a few add-ons for a professional workflow, especially on the audio-side. The appeal of cameras like the Canon C300 at $15k to pros is that the blocks come integrated and ready to use out of the box. XLR audio interfaces, ND filters and a top handle are examples of features the GH4 needs to be outfitted with whereas often more expensive pro video tools like the Canon C300 often don’t (although often cinema cameras like the Epic and Alexa, conversely, do). However the fact is that the GH4’s image is better specified for today’s world than the C300. The 4K output of the GH4 can produce oversampled 1080p in post at a higher bitrate and colour depth than the C300, at a price of $1600 compared to $15,000. Also the C300 does not capture true 24p on the sensor, instead scanning at 60fps in all modes and skipping frames to produce 24p on the image processor. The GH4 also benefits from a smaller size, smaller lenses, lower weight and even the option for 60p and 96fps slow-mo whereas the C300 tops out at 30fps despite the sensor being capable of 4K at up to 60fps.

Panasonic GH4 with Canon 85mm F1.2L

Whilst it’s true many pros became fed up with the workflow of DSLRs for video, many of them came back to cameras like the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7S this year as another tool for the job alongside their existing ones and sometimes in-place of their existing ones (notably the 5D Mark III). In the past, the need to sync audio from a separate recorder, the lack of proper audio inputs like balanced XLR jacks with phantom power, the lack of basic focus and exposure aids and wobbly HDMI connections were the bugbear of professional DSLR shooting. The YAGH interface unit for the GH4 solves all of the workflow quibbles pros left DSLRs for the C300 for and most consumers don’t actually need the same fast, robust workflow as pros do as they have the time on their hands to deal with workarounds.

Whilst the C300 still has a low-light advantage over the GH4, the same cannot be said by comparison to the Sony A7S – so that camera makes a great pairing with the GH4, covering for the only major weak-area of the camera – the smaller sensor and noisier image.

Conclusion

A professional will always gravitate towards the best tool for a particular job rather than a single camera for everything. In this respect the GH4 has already carved out a place for itself with a small and light physical form-factor and small data footprint of the 4K recordings. The small size and internal 4K codec makes it ideal for projects involving MoVi-like gimbals, steadicams and aerial imaging from drones, where the final delivery of material will be 4K. This is true right up at the highest leagues of the filmmaking industry because higher end cameras don’t share the same light footprint of the GH4. Especially in the case of aerial work, the extra resolution of 4K is an undoubtable advantage over 1080p.

In fairness though, the GH4 is not so much a ‘replacement’ for a professional cinema camera, more an additional option for the filmmaker which will be selected when the unique abilities of the tool are required by certain work. The simple fact that there’s even a comparison to be made to a $15,000 cinema camera says a lot about how far Panasonic has reached to connect with filmmakers.

The post DPReview give Panasonic GH4 gold award, with filmmaker’s perspective by EOSHD appeared first on EOSHD.

All credit is given to author EOSHDAndrew Reid (EOSHD)

1 YU2A9504 640x359 Canon 7D mark II Review   Footage and First Look at Video FeaturesThe Canon EOS 7D mkII was announced a week ago. For a long time the old Canon 7D was one of the best video shooting DSLR’s. Now the new addition to the Canon DSLR family offers many improvements in video mode. At cinema5D we took the camera into the field and tested it thoroughly to give you an impression of what it offers

Note: This review and footage were shot on a beta camera. There may be improvements in the final production version of the camera.

I got into a nostalgic mood when I sat down to write this article, as the original Canon 7D served me very well despite its limitations. Be it a BBC news pieces or a National Geographic Video, that camera was truly a working horse for me.

5 years to the date, and its successor landed on our desk raising modest expectations when it comes to the video side, as this camera according to its specifications isn’t offering all the features we would wish for and that other large sensor cameras already offer.

Watching Canon’s 7D mkII promotional video led us to believe that an extensive amount of sharpening was used in post and indeed our own findings support the assumption that the 7D mark II footage is a bit soft. We can tell you the video quality of the Canon 7D mark II is comparable to that of the Canon 5D mark III. Soft but very clean. In the above video, 25% sharpening was used in post in order to make the clean picture “alive”.

1 YU2A9498 640x360 Canon 7D mark II Review   Footage and First Look at Video Features

Besides the nice looking clean video mode it seems that Canon for the first time added audio output via HDMI. For a long time this feature was requested by professionals who worked with Canon DSLR’s on news assignments or when using external recorders.

Another enhancement from the original model is the headphone jack. Now it is possible to monitor your audio while recording video, but mind you that on this “beta camera” the preamps were rather noisy. Also audio and video were not in perfect sync as you can see in the video. Probably this issue will be resolved in the production version.

Other than that the added full HD in 50p and 60p mode is a very nice addition, but limited to IBP compression only. Normal video is recorded in ALL-i coding like on the 5D mark III. Other “basic video features” like peaking or magnifying video while recording did not make it into this camera.

Another noticable improvement is the brighter and larger LCD screen, dedicated video overlays, better lowlight capabilities, Dual-Pixel CMOS AF (as on 70D) and the ability to use both CF and SD cards.

All in all the Canon 7D mark II offers surprisingly nice looking and clean video with lovely and accurate colors and no aliasing or moiré. We will go into detail in our upcoming lab test where we will compare sharpness, colors, dynamic range and lowlight to other cameras including the old 7D.

One or two years ago this camera would probably have sold like hot cakes. 5D mark III video in a much more affordable APS-C body and slow motion in full HD. But now that 4K is here for many the video might be too soft.

Many thanks to Sonja Völker from herzilein-wien.at

Music by themusicbed.com
The Light the Heat – Autumn Eyes

The post Canon 7D mark II Review – Footage and First Look at Video Features appeared first on cinema5D.

All credit is given to author cinema5D » NewsJohnnie Behiri