Clearly the show wasn't a big hit with everyone. Okay, if you just went there looking for "The latest and greatest" DSLR equipment and filmmaking technology, you might have been disappointed, especially if you were hoping for a 5D Mark III. But if you were interested in video, technology, or Canon's current DSLR range, there was a lot to see.
The new Canon lenses that had just been announced; the 70-300mm f/4 zoom and the 8-15mm fisheye zoom were there. In the latter case, there were two of them and the guy said they were the only ones in the country. That lens is crazy useful if you put it on the 5D as it goes from a fisheye 180 degrees to a regular wide angle lens at the 15mm end. So it's not just a one trick pony. On a crop sensor, it's a wide, but "regular" zoom; no fisheye effect, the image fills the whole frame. In addition to the focal markings on the barrel, there is also an H and a C marking with a separate marker to the focal mark. I couldn't quite understand how that worked or what it was supposed to do for you...somehow it indicated what focal length you had with different sensors, but I just couldn't understand it. Still, nice lens.
Interested in broadcast? They had a $700,000 broadcast camera sitting on a pedestal that the guy claimed was from the Letterman show. When I wondered if that meant they were short a camera he said they keep spares around.
Cinematographer Bruce Dorn of iDC Photo Video had a little rig with a follow-focus which, though it won't let you mark focus points, provides an alternative way of focusing the lens. Bruce's lecture was one of several very good ones at the show; his mantra is "learn your equipment."
There were some XF105's on display too. There were two in a concept 3D rig put together by Redrock Micro, and I got a demo of how the 3D adjustments work on that camera. More on that in a later post. There were a couple of other DSLR rigs as well, but that was it for DSLR film making.
Then they had the imaginary stuff, I say that because it's equipment that they aren't going to bring to market in the current form; notably the 4K concept camera and a 30 inch 8k monitor. I thought the 4K camera was interesting, though maybe not something I'd want, even if they were going to sell it. Others have complained about the 2/3" sensor, lens, etc., but I thought it was kind of large and a rather awkward shape. I think you could only really use it on a tripod. The zoom speed on the lens was rather slow too; you had to spin the barrel ring quite a bit to go from one end to the other.
Still, it does suggest that Canon thinks 4K may be coming sooner or later...though I have to remember that the first HD monitor I saw in the flesh was at Siggraph in 1989, but it was at least another ten years before they started turning up in stores.
And before you think you now need to wait for those 4K cameras to appear, remember - as someone said in another seminar - that Avatar was shot in 1920 x 1080.
Want to play with a Canon 5D, 7D, T2i or 1D Mark IV? They had literally dozens of them there with different lenses. They had 60Ds there too. I only spent a few minutes playing with one (maybe because I didn't want to be tempted to buy one!) Yes, the flip out LCD is interesting and useful. Maybe. Five months ago I would have told you that it was necessary, making it possible to shoot from low down and high up. But what I'm not sure about now is how do you attach a loupe to one of these? Because now I think a loupe - or an external monitor - is more vital. I'm sure it can be done, I just wonder how secure it will be, and whether attaching a loupe may risk damaging the LCD joint.
But perhaps the best part of the event was the seminars. Unfortunately Rodney Charters and Russell Carpenter didn't make it, but the other seminars were all excellent. Vincent Laforet's talk was interesting in that it really focused less on his filmmaking than it did going into his twenty or so years at The New York Times as a still photographer, and his enthusiasm for aerial shots. A guy I was talking to the next day said he hadn't known Vincent worked for The New York Times either, and yet he had recognized several of the photographers that Vincent had shown.
Steven Poster, Shane Hurlbut and Bruce Dorn all gave great presentations, and though Corbin Bernsen didn't really talk about technology, he talked enthusiastically about the independent movie scene. Bruce Dorn also showed a surprisingly small monitor from SmallHD which he seemed to think was the bees knees.
My one complaint; even though I had the best part of the two days, I didn't really have enough time. And the seminars all seemed to end too soon, though maybe it's best to leave the audience wanting more. I thought the show was worth it, and I look forward to the next one. Do we really have to wait five more years?!
ProLost: Ha ha very funny Canon now get back to work
Cinema5D: Canon Expo 2010 4K Hair Dryer
SmallHD: 5.6 DP6 Monitor
iDC: 7D Follow-focus