For years, professional still photographers used still cameras and pro cinematographers used movie cameras. Then came digital, and with it a conversation began about the possibility of "convergence," meaning a single camera that could do still and video capture. Early on in the digital age, video camcorders added the ability to grab a still, but the video resolution was so low and the technology was so fundamentally different that those early stills from video were all but completely useless. The drive to convergence continued, but video camcorders were so entrenched in physically small low-resolution sensors, there didn’t appear to be a real future for high-end photographers.
Then everything changed.
In 2008, three huge developments occurred, and suddenly it seemed that convergence had taken a leap forward by an order of magnitude. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Nikon D90 and RED ONE all became available. The Canon and Nikon, of course, were primarily still cameras, and the RED ONE really was a motion-only camera when it came out, but from both sides—the still that can do motion and the motion that can do still—the vision of a new way of creating photographs emerged. By the end of 2008 the world had seen Reverie, a short film made by Vincent Laforet with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and Jim Jannard, the founder of RED, had declared that the company would follow a concept of the DSMC—Digital Still & Motion Camera—for all future products.
For photographers, a certain amount of chaos has ensued, but people always say that the Chinese word for chaos is made from the characters for crisis and opportunity. Still photographers quickly saw the opportunities that were opening up in motion. Some, like Laforet, have made a full push into narrative filmmaking, while others, like tabletop beverage-shooting wizard Martin Wonnacott, have been able to offer clients motion vignettes that show, for instance, a drop of condensation flowing down the side of a drink-filled glass. Still photographers began signing up for classes and workshops on motion editing and shooting in droves.
Convergence took a hard turn, introducing leading still photographers to start thinking in terms of motion. Canon EOS 5D Mark II users, in particular, began to see that they had a single device that could shoot beautiful, hi-res still shots, then with a flip of a switch, they could go to moviemaking. And the 5D Mark II’s price made it incredibly accessible to a lot of photographers.
Then everything changed…again.
In 2010, RED introduced the Epic, and with it, the DSMC potential hinted at with the RED ONE was fully realized. The Epic, which became available in 2011, is a motion camera that can shoot 5K at 120 fps and, true to Jannard’s declaration about still and motion capture, each of the frames from the Epic is a full-res still photograph. With this camera, a photographer could be shooting continuously until the storage media was full, and each frame would be a 13.8-megapixel shot (yielding approximately 55 MB TIFFs). If the Epic didn’t set the photography world on fire, it was only because of its price tag (more than $34,000, body only), not because of its abilities. Top professionals like Mark Seliger have used the camera for cover-quality photographs.
Technology may be a rough-and-tumble world, but one thing you can count on is that prices will drop and capabilities will increase over time. In late 2011, RED announced the Scarlet-X. The camera can shoot 4K motion (up to 25 fps), and you can go to a 5K mode at 12 fps. With a price tag of $9,700 ("Brain" only—about $16,000 well-equipped), it’s not cheap, but for a working professional, that cost starts to make one think about the possibilities.
Carlo Dalla Chiesa With The RED Epic
Using a RED Epic camera, Carlo Dalla Chiesa, co-owner of Smashbox Digital in Hollywood, took this photograph. He was testing the camera for making large prints and working in the camera’s 5K video mode. Essentially, he was taking 13.8-megapixel images at 24 fps. This type of workflow is at the heart of RED’s DSMC (Digital Still & Motion Camera) philosophy. (Note that the photo is shown here in its uncropped and proper orientation. On the cover, we had to make accommodations for the DPP logo and cover lines.) This way of working presents some new challenges for photographers, but on the whole, the enormous potential benefits are much greater.
Dalla Chiesa mentioned that in addition to having to think about lighting differently, one new challenge is not having a physical cue for a model to hold and break a pose. We’ve become used to the pop of a flash or the click of a shutter, but during a still + motion shoot, neither of these exists. A photographer becomes a bit like a film director, encouraging a model to move, but slower than he or she would in a movie shoot.
In the next issue of DPP, we’ll have a portfolio article with Carlo Dalla Chiesa where he discusses his philosophy of photography, as well as what he sees in store for the future.
The Scarlet-X was introduced on the same day as Canon unveiled the Cinema EOS C300 dedicated motion camera. During the elaborate multimedia show, Canon hinted at another intriguing camera: a new DSLR. That DSLR, the Cinema EOS-1D C, was announced formally at the NAB show in April 2012. The EOS-1D C is a 4K DSLR modeled after the EOS-1D X pro still camera. Taking the idea of convergence in yet another direction, the Cinema EOS-1D C can shoot 18.1-megapixel still shots and 4K video. If you’re shooting 4K video, you can pull the 8-megapixel image files from the video. The Cinema EOS-1D C is expected to cost $15,000 when it becomes available later this year, a price that makes it tempting for a lot of pros.
Earlier this year, DPP published an article about the incredible possibilities of 4K and higher-resolution video for professional photographers. That future has arrived. 4K opens up the door to a new paradigm—a whole new way to think about shooting—and it’s reality now.
You don’t have to shoot video or shoot stills—you just shoot—and you can export high-resolution still images from the resulting video stream. Capturing decisive moments is tough; now you can select them from long bursts of high-res video—high enough resolution for magazine covers and spreads.
On the following pages, we’ll show you some of the key facets of the Canon Cinema EOS-1D C, and the RED Scarlet-X and RED Epic. 4K is just the beginning.
RED Epic And Scarlet-X
RED is a company that has greatly advanced professional digital movie-making over the last few years, starting with the original RED ONE. RED cameras aren’t camcorders or DSLRs; they’re Digital Still & Motion Cameras (DSMCs) that shoot such high-resolution (4K and 5K) video that you can export any frame from the video stream as a high-quality still image—high enough quality that they have been printed in major magazines. Effectively, the Epic can produce 5K (13.8-megapixel) stills at up to 120 fps and 4K (8.8-megapixel) stills at 150 fps. The lower-priced Scarlet-X can do 5K at up to 12 fps and 4K at up to 30 fps.
RED cameras are modular systems, based around a "Brain" (a body with a sensor and electronics) to which you add a lens mount, power supply, viewfinder, memory unit and more to suit your needs. Thus, you can customize the camera as desired, and when an improved component becomes available, you needn’t replace the whole camera to upgrade.
The Epic and new Scarlet-X are similar manual-focus modular cameras that shoot 5K, 4K and lower resolutions. The prim
ary differences are data rates and processing power: The Epic can shoot at much faster rates. The Scarlet, while slower, is still a very capable DSMC and has the advantage of a much lower price.
5K Mysterium-X Sensor. At the heart of the Epic and Scarlet-X is a Super 35-format (27.7×14.6mm) Mysterium-X CMOS image sensor that can deliver the same high image quality, but at a much faster rate in the Epic. Full-frame 5K utilizes the sensor’s full area; lower resolutions are windowed (cropped), thus reducing the angle of view. The focal-length factors (35mm DSLR equivalents) are about 1.3x for 5K, 1.6x for 4K, 2x for 3K and 3.25x for 2K—e.g., at 5K, a 100mm lens frames like a 130mm lens on a full-frame DSLR; at 4K, a 100mm lens frames like a 160mm lens on a full-frame DSLR, etc.
Shooting Speeds. Here lies the major difference between the Epic and the Scarlet. The Epic can shoot 5K at 1 to 120 fps, while the Scarlet-X can do 1 to 12 fps (great for still images, but essentially time-lapse for video). At 4K, the Epic can do 1 to 150 fps, the Scarlet-X, 1 to 30 fps. At 3K, the Epic can do 1 to 200 fps, the Scarlet-X, 1 to 48 fps. At 2K, the Epic can do 1 to 300 fps, the Scarlet-X, 1 to 60 fps (1080p). The Epic also can do the standard video rates of 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 47.96, 50 and 59.94 at all resolutions; the Scarlet-X provides all these rates, but not at all resolutions.
REDCODE RAW. Like all RED cameras, the Epic uses the proprietary REDCODE RAW codec, which employs "visually lossless" compression to produce much smaller files. As with RAW still images, RED’s RAW video provides for nondestructive image adjustments during processing—white balance, gamma, ISO setting and the like. HDRx. The Mysterium-X sensor has a normal dynamic range of 13.5 stops. This can be expanded to 18 stops in both camera models via the HDRx feature. HDRx simultaneously records a normally exposed track, plus a track of your choice of 2 to 6 stops darker, which can be combined in post to provide more highlight detail. This doubles the file size and, thus, halves the maximum frame rate (to 6 fps for 5K and 12 fps for 4K shooting with the Scarlet-X). The final processed HDRx file is normal size.
Lens Flexibility. Both cameras accept interchangeable-lens mounts. Mounts for cinema industry-standard PL lenses and Canon EF lenses are available, with more in the works. Thus, Epic and Scarlet-X users can choose among the many PL-mount cinema lenses and Canon’s wide EF line to suit their shooting needs.
Viewing Options. Epic and Scarlet-X users can choose the RED Touch 5.0-inch external LCD monitor, an 800×480-pixel unit with touch-screen control of exposure, shutter speeds, ISOs and such, or the Bomb EVF (OLED), an eye-level OLED electronic viewfinder.
Memory. Two SSD modules are available, mounting on the rear of the Brain via an adapter and the other mounting directly to the side of the Brain. Both accept 1.8-inch REDMAG SSD media.
Power. You can power the Epic and the Scarlet-X via REDVOLT, REDVOLT XL or REDBRICK batteries and modules. The REDVOLT is light when weight is a concern; the others provide longer run times. There’s also an AC adapter.
Rail Components. RED offers a wide range of handles and supports, allowing you to configure the camera just as you want it for efficient operation.
REDCINE-X Software. The Scarlet-X comes with RED’s REDCINE-X software, which allows you to import, transcode, finish and export the camera’s REDCODE RAW files.
Canon Cinema EOS-1D C
The Cinema EOS-1D C is essentially an EOS-1D X flagship pro DSLR with 4K video capability. To make the Cinema EOS-1D C fit the needs of high-end filmmakers, Canon incorporated a few particular features and also eliminated the PC connection, meaning strobe connectivity is gone. That makes sense considering the intended market. Other than that, the camera is a close sibling to the EOS-1D X.
18.1 MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor. Like the EOS-1D X, the EOS-1D C has a Canon-produced, full-frame, 18.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, but this one is capable of 4K video capture. The big sensor means you can restrict depth of field for selective-focus shots (difficult, if not impossible, with smaller-sensor cameras), with excellent high-ISO performance.
Dual DIGIC 5+ Processors. Again like the EOS-1D X, the EOS-1D C features two Canon DIGIC 5+ image sensors, each 17 times faster than the DIGIC 4, one of the factors making 4K video possible. The DIGIC 5+ processors, with 16-channel data readout, also provide quick still shooting, better image quality through improved noise reduction and real-time compensation for chromatic aberration for both still and video shooting.
4K Video, Plus Full HD. While previous EOS HDSLRs could record full HD (1920×1080) video, the EOS-1D C also can record 8-bit 4:2:2 4K (4096×2160) video at 24 fps (it can record 8-bit 4:2:0 full HD at rates from 24 to 60 fps). You can shoot videos at ISOs of up to 25,600 and record to CompactFlash cards in the camera or (via an HDMI terminal) to an external recorder in an uncompressed YCbCr 8-bit 4:2:2 signal. (The camera’s LCD monitor functions even when an external monitor is connected to the HDMI port.) 4K video is captured using an APS-H portion of the image sensor, while full HD can be captured "full-frame" (using the full 36mm width of the sensor) or in cropped Super 35 format, which matches the industry-standard format and angle of view. Fast Still Shooting. Like the X, the C can do 18.1-megapixel RAW or JPEG images at 12 fps with phase-detection AF for each shot, plus JPEGs at 14 fps with focus locked.
All-New AF System. The C shares the X’s new 61-point High Density Reticular AF, which includes up to 41 cross-type points (with ƒ/4 or faster lenses) and provides new algorithms for improved subject tracking.
All-New Metering System. The C also shares the X’s new iSA (Intelligent Subject Analysis) metering system with a 100,000-pixel sensor and its own DIGIC 4 processor. The system incorporates face and color data for more accurate exposures in available light and with flash.
Durable Construction. The C shares the X’s durable magnesium-alloy body with dust- and weather-sealing and a 400,000-cycle shutter. An improved Ultrasonic Wave Motion Cleaning system rolls rather than shakes dust particles off the sensor assembly.
Built-In Headphone Jack. The EOS-1D C replaces the EOS-1D X’s PC socket for studio flash with a headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring.
Dual CF Cards. Like the EOS-1D X, the EOS-1D C has two CompactFlash card slots. You can choose how you want to use each card.
Big LCD Monitor. The EOS-1D C shares the X’s 3.2-inch, 1,040,000-dot Clear View II LCD monitor with reflection resistance.
Wide Lens Line. The EOS-1D C can use more than 60 EF and EF Cinema lenses, with focal lengths from an 8-15mm fisheye zoom and a 14mm superwide-angle to an 800mm supertelephoto. (The APS-H format for 4K video increases the effective focal length by 1.3x.)
What Is 4K?
| As its name suggests, 4K is video with a horizontal resolution of around 4000 pixels (full HD has a horizontal resolution of 1920 pixels and "regular" HD, 1280 pixel
s). For the RED Scarlet-X and the Canon Cinema EOS-1D C, 4K means 4096×2160 video, but there are also other "4K" flavors: 3840×2160 QFHD 4K (quad full HD, also available with the Scarlet-X) is exactly four times the spatial resolution of full HD, with the same 1.78:1 aspect ratio (4096×2160 4K has a slightly wider 1.90:1 aspect ratio). Digital Cinema 4K comes in two flavors: 4096×1714 (2.39:1 aspect ratio) and 3996×2160 (1.85:1 aspect ratio). Academy 4K is 3656×2664 (1.37:1 aspect ratio), and Full Aperture 4K is 4096×3112 (1.32:1 aspect ratio). The aspect ratio is the ratio between the image width and its height.
Obviously, the big benefit of 4K video is better image quality. Just as quadrupling the pixel count of a DSLR can yield higher-quality still images, 4K video produces higher-quality video than 1920×1080 full HD.
Of course, 4K files are four times the size of full HD files, which themselves are quite large, requiring huge hard drives and lots of computer horsepower, and 4K monitors and projectors are large and costly. But 4K likely will replace full HD for pro video in the future, and you can shoot it now.