NAB Roundup – Part 2

This is the second part of a wider blog about some of the things that I saw at NAB 2015 that got me really excited. See also: Part 1 of our NAB 2015 round up.

Small HD 502 Field Monitor

I’ve been in the market for a high quality monitor for a long time now but have been waiting for the right one. For me, the 502 may well be that monitor that I’ve been searching for.

The first thing that struck me about this particular monitor is it’s form factor; It’s perfectly sized for what I need it for. My current 7-inch monitor just seems too big for the top of my camera and I’d be willing to lose a bit of size in order to make using a monitor more manageable. The 502 has a 5-inch, 1920×1080 monitor and so delivers exactly what I want in a much more compact package. On top of that, it weighs in at only 6 ounces and is only ¾ of an inch thick. Aside from it’s size, it’s also powered by Canon lp-e6 batteries, meaning that I don’t have to invest in any new batteries. From a practical point, this suits me perfectly.

In terms of video quality it seems to offer a lot. As I mentioned earlier, the screen is full HD, which would make a nice change from the slightly muddy quality of my current monitor. It can be hard to see what you’re doing with a lower quality monitor and that defeats the point really. Small HD have gone beyond great resolution though, they also offer scopes and the ability to use 3D LUTs which would be a really helpful tool for correct exposure and pre-visualising a project.

3D Robotics Solo Drone

I’ve been torn about investing in drones for a long time now, but I feel very uncertain about them. I see them in the same way that I see Steadicam style stabilizers; they’re great but they require a lot of time to master. I’ve tried many times to master the stabilisers mentioned above and was unable to do so, and I’m worried that a drone would end up the same way. The new ‘Solo’ drone from 3D Robotics might well put my mind at rest.

The great thing about this drone is that it’s designed in a way that means you can reduce human error. I find that drones can be a bit hit or miss, you either get smooth, cinematic movement or you get a terribly jarring video feel to your movement. With the Solo, you can use software to program in key points and then you can let the drone do the rest. As long as you put a good amount of thought into the movement, it seems that you’re likely to get solid and repeatable results.

The price point is verging on ridiculous for this piece. You can expect to pay $999 for the drone itself and $399 for the camera gimbal to attach to it. Even if you buy both, it looks like you’ll be paying very little for a really interesting product. The one downside for the Solo is that it’s designed for GoPro cameras; anything heavier and the drone won’t be able to take it.

Black Magic Design URSA Mini.

My personal experiences with Black Magic have been less than satisfactory but this camera looks very interesting. I was one of those people that pre-ordered the BMPC when it was first announced and was left waiting for a very long time. I eventually cancelled my order and haven’t really thought about them much since. That is until they announced URSA Mini.

My understanding of this camera is that they’ve taken a lot of the features of the original URSA and have compressed them into a smaller package. That means you get the same screen, the same sensor and the same kind of choices but in a camera that can be used by a small crew. You can choose between either a 4k or a 4.6k sensor and either a EF or PL mount, meaning that you’re getting high resolution video with a large choice of lenses. Aside from this, you’re also getting a huge 15 stops of dynamic range!

All of these interesting specs come in at a pretty decent price as well. For a 4k, EF mount model you’re looking at about $3000. That’s very affordable considering what you’re getting! Whilst the specs are really impressive, as always there are some Black Magic quirks that I’m not a big fan of.

The first of these quirks is the same problem that a lot of their cameras suffer from; you need to buy things to make it useable. Although you get the Sony style handle, you don’t get a viewfinder, top handle or a shoulder mount, meaning that I would have to pay extra to make it the kind of camera that I want. Although there is talk about a possible bundle package in the future, this is something that we’ll have to wait and see about. The second thing that I’m not so keen on is that it shoots to Cfast cards and so I would have to invest in new cards to shoot with it. This is also a feature of the original URSA so is to be expected, but either way I’m not a fan.

For me I’m a bit less excited about this camera and a bit more curious. It may turn out to be amazing but I’d like to wait and see what happens, especially after my past experiences.

That’s it; our list of our favourite products and announcements from NAB. It’d be great to hear what everyone thought about NAB and I’d very much like to find out what some of your favourites were so feel free to comment below!