Prokit's 35mm Open Day: Cameras, drawings, Christmas trees!

If you missed our 35mm Open Day last week, then don't worry. Today’s blog will guide you through the highlights...

Canon C300

The star of the show was the new Canon C300 camcorder. Partially a response to the popularity of their video-capable DSLR cameras, and partially a response to large-sensor camcorders from other manufacturers, Canon's C300 has been hugely anticipated and in terms of specification ticks many boxes for camera people and broadcasters alike. These are the main features:

  • Super 35mm CMOS Sensor
  • Two models: one with Canon EF lens mount & one with PL mount
  • Uses Compact Flash Card
  • Records 50mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2
  • 8 Bit uncompressed HD-SDI output
  • Canon-Log setting for flat picture profile

So what did we think of it in real life? In a word: excellent. It's easy to think you'll know exactly how a camera will look, feel and perform just from the tech specs and photos...but until you're really holding it in your hand and looking through the LCD you can't form an honest impression.

We put it together (the camera + top handle/LCD/XLR section + Canon EF Lens), fired it up and everyone here at Prokit was very, very impressed indeed. It's got a DSLR-like build to it: the body is compact and dense feeling, the detachable hand grip is rubberised like a pro-level DSLR (the whole package uses the same weatherproofing as the ubiquitous Canon 5D Mk II) and the LCD has a unique swivelling axis that allows viewing from virtually any angle. All these pieces are held together with strong and secure feeling locking mechanisms, and despite the whole package looking a little top-heavy, we found the camera to be very well weighted in the hand. You would still want a shoulder rig for extended handheld shoots, but even just using the excellent hand grip we found the system to be reassuringly solid and weighty without ever feeling heavy.

Probably the best thing about this camera though is that the EF model allows you to mount Canon's extensive range of EF lenses straight onto the body. If you own a Canon HD-DSLR then you probably have invested some cash in good glass and this camera gives you the benefits of a Super 35mm sensor (purpose-built for video) and a broadcast-safe HD codec for recording. Put simply this is the perfect camera for any camera person making stylised, broadcast documentary and drama that is going straight to television, and moreover anyone wants to use all the glass and grip from their 5D kit and needs to travel light.

If your background is more film based, then don't worry because Canon haven't forgotten you either: there's a PL mount version of the camera as well.

We're excited about this camera, we've got a great price on it and stock is due at the end of January. We have many pre-orders already so if you want to get in before everybody else place your order now. Of course we will have an EF model on demo in our showroom by then also.

Sony PMW-F3...demo-ed with the new Sony Zoom Lenses!

We're big fans of the F3 at Prokit and feel it offers a very complete solution for freelancers and production companies working on a varied selection of programmes. Check out the following features that make this a truly flexible camera:

  • Super 35mm CMOS Sensor
  • Uses PL Mount Lenses
  • Uses Sony SxS express card
  • Records 35mbps MPEG-2
  • Single and Dual-Link HD-SDI
  • S-Log upgrade available for enhanced dynamic rage and uncompressed 4:4:4 capability

We kitted our F3 up (by kitted, we mean pimped...pimped to the MAX) with all manner of accessories, but the one that really stood out was a working beta model of the new Sony 18mm-252mm powered zooms lens. This lens has a built-in motor and zooming is operated by the zoom-rocker already built into the F3 body. This is an excellent solution for anybody wanting to use the F3 in a more "broadcast" configuration for ENG and actuality jobs. Sony also now offer the F3 packaged with this lens as a kit to buy, which you can see by clicking here. So whilst the F3 is certainly well suited to stylised documentary, drama and commercial when using PL mount prime lenses, the addition of this excellent value powered zoom frees up the operator to work on normal TV as well.

We can't think of more flexible all-round camcorder than the Sony F3.

Sony FS100


Using the same Super 35mm sensor as the F3 but recording Sony's entry level NXCAM format (a form of AVCHD), the FS100 is the logical step up from DSLR. It's a quirky little camera but a powerful one. Here are its best bits:

  • Super 35mm CMOS sensor
  • Uses Sony E-Mount lenses or other brands with adapters
  • Modular design
  • Uses SD cards
  • Records 28mbps MPEG-4
  • Uncompressed 4:2:2 HDMI output
  • Capable of 1080 50P recording

We had our FS100 all dressed up with accessories as well, and in particular it gave visitors a chance to play with the new Sound Devices Pix 220 recorder. Seeing as AVCHD isn't accepted by most broadcasters, anyone making TV with this camera will need to use an external recorder capable of taking the HDMI output from the camera. Suitable recorders are: Sound Devices Pix 220 & 240, Atomos Ninja, AJA Ki Pro Mini and Convergent Design Nano Flash. We had the camera set up with a Sony Alpha lens adapter and a rather nice Zeiss 28-75 f2.8 zoom lens: the kind of zoom lens that gets the best out of that Super 35mm Chip.

We like the FS100 a lot, and with the right accessories it becomes a very usable and inexpensive upgrade from HD-DSLR shooting.

Panasonic AF101

Panasonic took a different angle when making their large-sensor camcorder, and instead of going with a Super 35mm CMOS chip they instead chose a Micro Four Thirds sized one. This was a logical decision as Panasonic already make a large selection of lenses for their prosumer Lumix range of Micro Four Thirds mirror-less stills cameras, and that means these lenses work great on the AF101. The one we had on demo had a particularly gorgeous Voigtlander lens attached with a maximum aperture of f0.95! Here are the key features of the AF101:

  • Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • Uses Panasonic Micro 4/3" lenses or other brands with adapters
  • Uses SD cards
  • Records 24mbps MPEG-4
  • Capable of 1080 50P recording
  • HD-SDI & HDMI outputs

The AF101 records AVCHD, so not ideal for broadcast but this can be overcome by using an external recorder. The AF101 has both HD-SDI and HDMI outputs so will work with most of the recorders in the Field Recorders section of our website.

We think the AF101 is a handy tool for those making corporate videos and short movies, and require a shallower depth of field than is available on 1/2" and 1/3" chip camcorders.

Kinotehnik LCDVFe - an excellent viewfinder solution

Most manufacturers have - rather curiously - supplied their cameras with some rather poor efforts in the viewfinder department. Whether it's that they have a picture that looks roughly like viewing a postage stamp down the end of a drainpipe or that they physically wont lock into position properly, it remains an oddly overlooked part of the design with many of these cameras (the Sonys in particular).

At our 35mm Open Day we had on display an excellent solution to this problem. The clever young men at Estonian manufacturer Kinotehnik have created an electroic viewfinder called the LCDVFe, which takes away the pain of struggling with the on-board camera viewfinder. We've seen the LCDVFe up against similar products from other manufacturers and this one is our hands-down favourite. It's packed full of high quality features (peaking, zebra, one-to-one pixel zoom etc), is well priced and has a proper, integrated and adjustable mounting bracket. You can pre-order one by clicking here.

We expect stock around the same time as our Canon C300s. Click on the links to see more about it.

Hang on - isn't that a drawing of the Canon C300 in the background of these photographs?

Yeah - that's right, if you missed our 35mm Open Day then you also missed artist Rebecca Johnston interpretting the new Canon camcorder in graphite pencil, and doing it brilliantly well. For more info on Rebecca Johnston then please visit her Tumblr page here rebeccajanejohnston.tumblr.com or contact her directly by emailing here at rebecca_jane_j@hotmail.co.uk

It was a great day: we enjoyed it, and we hope those who attended enjoyed it as well!

We at Prokit would like to give massive thanks to the following people for helping make the day such a success:

Rebecca Johnston

Nick Millen, Hin Pang and Sundeep Singh of Canon

Kanta Yanamoto and Natasha Knight of Sony

Richard Payne of Holdan (Panasonic)

Tõnis Liivamägi and Lars-Erik Hion of Kinotehnik

Mike Tappa of MTF Services

IDX for the loan of their great CamWave HD system

Cache Media for the loan of the very sexy Marshall 9" Orchid Monitor

By Stuart Dennis