Thoughts on Modern Cameras

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Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by Nigel » Sat May 12, 2012 6:01 pm

Since people keep beating the horse I couldn't help but chime in. I'm just a DP that has been struggling to pay my bills shooting everything from music videos, documentaries and feature professionally for the last 12 years. So, I write this from that prospective.

What I don't like about RED, Sony, Panasonic, SLRs, etc are the following.

A) "Super35" chips that only shoot HD.

1) Why are you selling a big chip that only does 1920x1080? That seems hardly like something to get excited about. Then, when you dig deeper if you are lucky you get 444 color but only when tethered to an HDD. I would rather have a 2/3" chip that is packed with pixels and can deliver 2K with 16bit color while recording onboard.

Bring the outputs up rather than bragging about what the input device (Chip) is.

B) Black boxes.

1) The ergonomics of almost every camera out there sucks. From a Nikon D7000 up to RED and C400. For the last 110+ years still cameras and movie cameras have been evolving differently. Somehow every camera maker has forgotten that and has tried to shoehorn a cube onto your tripod/shoulder.
a) This also means that industry standard AKS won't work on what you just spent 123456789 hundreds of dollars on.

2) Lack of a mirrored shutter. Granted on a $1200 SLR I don't expect to have a mirrored shutter in movie-mode. But at some point there needs to be a time where if it is not standard it should be optional. For $15,000 I want a real shutter. When shooting beyond HD how am I supposed to use a tiny HD eyepiece and trust it? Why do I need to be tethered to a huge monitor?

C) Software.

1) Not only does the UI suck on the menu trees but just having them is stupid. You need to have ASA/Gain, File Type/Size, Shutter Speed/Angle, Format Media and maybe WB. That is it. Anything else can be handled in post just as you time film. Time the file. Most of these functions could also be handled with buttons, dials and not within a screen.

2) Filetypes. Film is standard. Files should be standard. CineDNG, ArriRAW, etc. I don't really care which ends up on top but everyone should look at what has the most to offer and except it as standard. I shoot my stills in TIFF because it is open and widely used. Any and all versions of Photoshop will work with it. Unlike camera RAW which seems to change with every model Nikon puts out.

---

Just a few thoughts. It is why the Digital Bolex, Black Magic, on and on will not even get a glance from me. It would be great if Aaton and Arri would push their technology and expertise down the food chain. It would be even better if Penelope type mags were made for XTR.

Either way the Cannon, Sony, Panasonic and garage creators will continue to miss the boat and micro-budget filmmakers will continue to get caught up on specs instead of what is needed in a camera.

Good Luck

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by MovieStuff » Sat May 12, 2012 7:52 pm

I can relearn the ergonomics and work flow. So that doesn't really bother me as much though it would be nice to see a camera with knobs and no menus. But I'm surprised that you didn't include in your list a global shutter. All your HD cameras with CMOS have rolling shutters and they SUCK FETID POND WATER. It's like shooting with a really, really expensive cell phone.

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by wado1942 » Sat May 12, 2012 8:35 pm

Yeah, I proposed that the D-Bolex use an optical viewfinder and do away with the LCD, just put on switches for frame rate & CCD gain setting. A real shutter would be nicer, gets rid of that nasty CCD smear and lets more light hit the sensor. He also put the audio jacks on the wrong side so they'd get in your face if you tried to shoulder mount the cam. Almost everybody on their message board says "lose the stupid crank so the jacks can be on the right side" but it's too late to change. I also suggested just not having audio at all, because it's 16-bit and I want HD audio, not just video. I've been wondering what it would take to put a CCD in a junker 16mm camera, because that's what I'd prefer. Of course, the biggest problems with most of the new big-chip cameras is #1, rolling shutter, #2 hyper-compressed video that's slow to edit and falls apart with any manipulation, #3 horrid dynamic range (except the higher end Sonys). I don't care if those cameras are $50, they're just toys until those problems are solved.
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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by MovieStuff » Sun May 13, 2012 12:34 am

wado1942 wrote:Y.... A real shutter would be nicer, gets rid of that nasty CCD smear .....
HAH! You'd be lucky if you get a CCD at all! I'd take the CCD smear over the rolling shutter on a CMOS any day.

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by wado1942 » Sun May 13, 2012 1:33 am

I totally agree. I don't care how many pixel you capture, it's completely worthless if you can't have any motion in your motion-picture. I will take a standard def CCD camera over a CMOS HD cam in the same price range any day. Actually, a coworker of mine did a recent video shoot using three cameras, a Sony CMOS HD camera, A VX2000 and some HD Canon (forget which). He said he was surprised to find the VX2000 produced the best quality of them all and the Sony HD was by far the worst. That's another thing people neglect, the more pixels you cram onto a chip, the worse your dynamic range is.
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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by Nigel » Sun May 13, 2012 6:33 am

CMOS has issues and so does CCD.

I think that CMOS' issues go away if it truly takes 24 unique frames per second.

CMOS fails when you are shooting with an SLR in video and it rolls the frames.

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by S8 Booster » Sun May 13, 2012 6:50 am

Possibly best suited for scientific purposes but it is an CMOS with an global shutter.
Seems to be quite possible to integrate with a suitable cam design.
http://www.aptina.com/products/image_se ... /#overview

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by beamascope » Sun May 13, 2012 6:06 pm

I think you've hit the nail on the head with the original post. It's quite confusing with codecs, compression and so on. If only people cared as much about story/script as they do image quality we'd be better off.

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by Nigel » Sun May 13, 2012 7:43 pm


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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by MovieStuff » Mon May 14, 2012 1:26 pm

Nigel wrote:CMOS has issues and so does CCD.

I think that CMOS' issues go away if it truly takes 24 unique frames per second.

CMOS fails when you are shooting with an SLR in video and it rolls the frames.

Good Luck
CMOS has millions of tiny transistors; one next to each pixel. Cameras like Red still have a roll problem because there is no cost effective way to buffer all the values of all the scan lines together at once, which is why CMOS dumps the information on a line by line basis from top to bottom. I'm not saying it is technically impossible but, last I checked, you won't find it currently on lower priced HD cameras with CMOS chips. CCD started out with similar problems so it's only a matter of time before CMOS goes to a global shutter. Then the expensive camera you just bought with the rolling shutter you won't be able to give away. That's the big problem for me, in terms of investing in something like the Red or the new BlackMagic camera.

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by Nigel » Mon May 14, 2012 5:57 pm

Roger

Pardon my ignorance but my understanding is this.

CMOS sensors also contain architecture (additional chips) to process the information on sensor itself. Kind of like "System on Chip" computing. It is what this back side processing is or rather is not doing that causes the rolling shutter.

Therefore if the 'System on Chip' has the proper firmware it could eliminate the issue before the image is then handed off to the rest of the camera's computers for further processing.

In other words the way I understood the problem is that it is more of a lack of companies hiring computer people to write the chip level code than it is a function of the chip itself. If Nikon is sold a CMOS chip by Sony they can accept it's function or they could reprogram it to behave differently.

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by wado1942 » Mon May 14, 2012 6:44 pm

Well, let me first state that CCDs are extraordinarily complex chips to manufacture. There's multiple layers of circuitry at work to coordinate every photodiode capturing at once, then dumping in an analogue process from one cell to another at rapid succession. Even though the lines are dumped one at a time, the exposure is global. With CMOS, it's all on the same layer and that's what makes it so cheap and easy to manufacture. All the control circuity that would be on another layer has to be right next to the photodiodes, which means they have to be much smaller. To prevent them from being unusably small, the circuitry uses much simpler logic where each cell is exposed and dumped directly to the output amplifier in order and one at a time. There are global shutter CMOS chips, but they're very expensive and still don't have even 1/4 the dynamic range CCDs of the same size/pixel count do. What more successful manufacturers like Sony have done is speed up the regulating clock to a point where the rolling effect is only visible on faster motion. This requires higher clock speeds and more refined logic circuits to handle the throughput. It's not just a simple programming issue but fundamental architecture of the chip that's getting in the way.
Last edited by wado1942 on Mon May 14, 2012 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by MovieStuff » Mon May 14, 2012 8:25 pm

Nigel wrote: In other words the way I understood the problem is that it is more of a lack of companies hiring computer people to write the chip level code than it is a function of the chip itself.....
It's not a code issue. It's a problem inherent in the design of a CMOS chip. See the longer explanation above, which is spot on.

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by Nigel » Tue May 15, 2012 4:42 am

Good to know.

I thought CMOS were more like SOC architecture.

Either way. At the end of the day there is more talk about pixels and less talk about use.

Thanks for the info.

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Re: Thoughts on Modern Cameras

Post by Nigel » Tue May 15, 2012 7:40 am

OK.

I did a bit of catching up on CMOS.

With 22 Nanometer technology I'm kind of at a loss as to how the SOC of CMOS is some how more complex than other silicon fabrications.

Once again I am pretty ignorant to the pressing of chips. But, my understanding of CMOS is that the processing lives directly behind the capture. Is that how CMOS works? If so how can there be dual 1ghz ARM processors that run graphics unlike anything from 5 years ago and yet there isn't chip level instruction to have a CMOS pass off an image at 1/48 of a second as captured as a whole? It seems like an instruction set. Especially since CMOS seem to have less pixels than their CCD counterparts.

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