Monday 14 May 2012

Canon missing a trick with their new cinema lenses?

Canon kicked off the DSLR revolution (it was just that despite what others may tell you...) and have progressively updated DSLR's in the line through new models and clever firmware upgrades to the MkII to dominate this segment.

They followed this impressive foot hold with the Canon C300 and have shown the C500 which when released will answer many of the (mostly unfair) criticisms levelled at the C300.

To cap this, Canon have started to roll out the release of a range of cinema lenses too which are very serious offerings indeed.

I'm delighted that Canon are doing this, I even suggested way back in 2009 to the mass of Canon representatives at 'Converge 1' held at the National Film Theatre in London that this would be a good idea.

So why do I think that Canon could be missing a trick?

I had been mulling this over in my mind for a while but what crystallised the thought was the announcement of the Canon 14.5 - 60 Cinema lens which looks to be a superb offering(check out the AbelCine Review) but has a very high estimated street price, while these figures are not confirmed I have seen numbers of anything up to $20,000 banded about.

$20,000 per zoom lens is way out of my league.

It may be of a 'modest' size in terms of cine lenses but weighing in at more than 8lb's (4.5kg's) really takes it out of 'Run and Gun' territory, even if you could afford it.

This is a zoom range which I use a lot with the C300 which leaves me little choice but to use the Canon EF-S 17-55 F2.8.

A lens which has a good zoom range, good optical quality, image stabilised (a real boon when shooting handheld) and a constant F2.8 f-stop.

That is the good news - now for the bad.

It's build quality and action of focus and zoom are shall we say, a little flaky at times.

As I'm sure Canon would admit, not really optimum for pro video use.

On occasion robbing you of very smooth actions that you need.

Not helped at all by the fiddly, tiny focusing ring.

The Canon EF-S 17-55 lens, used out of necessity
The choices open to a Canon user when the 14.5-60 cinema lens is finally launched will be to buy one of these for $20,000ish or $1000 on the EF-S 17-55.

This is further compounded by the fact that the new 'L' series Canon 24-70 lens, which even if you could live with the slightly too long bottom end focal length, lacks image stabilisation even though the new 28mm lens has IS (go figure?)

Canon are catering for the very top end cinema movie makers and the pro-sumers while, so far, passing by the large rump of C300 users( and 7D users too)

Prime lenses are all well and good, and there are some fine offerings from Canon and Zeiss but often a zoom is of much more real world use.

How about a compact 'L' series zoom lens which covers 17-55 range, with some of the features of its big brother, retaining IS which would have a street price of $3000?

Over to you, Canon, Zeiss or perhaps even Schneider?

Whoever pulls it off will have a sales hit on their hands in this so far neglected section of the market.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Celebrity Photography Webinar 17/5/12 19.00 BST

Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn, in the Austrian Tyrol for Sports Illustrated

Next week I'm presenting a celebrity photography webinar hosted by the Manfrotto School of Excellence (It will be free of charge too).

I will be talking about celebrity portraiture and how to make it happen as well as some behind the scenes stories.

It will be about the technical side including lighting but it will be about so very much more than that.

Communication with celebrities and their agents is the key part, and so is planning.

Please join me for an insight into this world

Places are already going fast.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

A wet Bank Holiday weekend in Whitstable, with a pleasant surprise.

Off with the family to one of my very favourite spots.

Whitstable in Kent.

A beautiful gem of a town which has class while still keeping its feet on the ground.

If you have not been, do go.

Right now would be a good time as we made a very welcome discovery.

Renowned shooter to the stars Brian Aris has an exhibition in the Whitsatble museum.

It is not the biggest show ever but what sheer quality.

If you have not familiar with him check out his site

Bear in mind too that the lions share of his work in the show was shot on film, which meant you had to get the exposure right.....and post was not widespread.

What struck me about his work in addition to the craftsmanship was how personal the portraits are - the rapport which he has managed to strike up with some of the biggest names in show business tell you much about the man.

His portraits of the late Paula Yates were particularly poignant.

I'm trying to get hold of Brian at the moment to see if we can have a chat about his work.

The exhibition runs until June 10

If you do get down to Whitstable and like seafood, ring ahead to try to book a table at the amazing Wheelers seafood restaurant, a culinary institution which has changed little since it opened some 150 years only and no drinks licence either.

You will need luck on your side as it only seats 12 covers at any one time.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Out and about with the Canon C300.

A busy old week.

Out and about in London with the Canon C300.

The more I use it, the more I like it.

The medium format style ergonomics make so much sense and one feels at home with very quickly.

It's one thing doing low light tests in controlled conditions but in real world situations it is such an advantage.

We were shooting in the Victoria and Albert Museum were the light was very low indeed so we rated the shoot at 5000ISO and the quality was simply superb.

Something which would have been unimaginable with the otherwise excellent Canon XF305, which is not suited to low all.

Next stop street shooting in the West End.

We expected to hit some kind of trouble from some type of person in a uniform telling us we could not film but we were thankfully left alone.

I can't help but wonder how much of this was down to the fact that the C300 does not quite look like a video camera?

So great in low light and great inconspicuous run and gun camera too.

One gripe though....

It would be great if one could use XLR Mic's straight into the body instead of having to fit the clever but sometimes a little bit unwieldy LCD/XLR module to the top of the camera.

It is a bit of a pest when it is time to remove the module too.

The HiRos cables which plug into the body are super stiff to remove .

They are getting better with use, but they can be trying if you are under pressure.

I hope that someone soon comes up with a discrete and compact XLR solution.

More C300 adventures soon......