CineGear 2013: Flying GoPros and iPhones Run Amuck, DSLRs Fading

Cameras

Another weekend of drinking on the Paramount lot has come and gone. For those of you who don’t know, Cinegear is a mini-NAB that has bars setup between the booths on the Paramount backlot and 2 stages. It rarely has anything new announced and this year was no different. However, things were a bit different this year. There was a few major themes to this years event. GoPros were huge, DSLRs were dwindling, Sony looked great and Canon was just hanging out.

GoPro

GoPro always has a strong showing at Cinegear, but their booth was in the back of a stage and didn’t draw the massive crowd it did in previous years. That doesn’t mean GoPros weren’t everywhere!

Jared was walking around showing off the Wide Open Camera Hero3 Combat Cage by mounting it on a shoulder rig with a Zacuto EVF.

There were some GoPros on windows of the New York Street sets, I’m assuming doing timelapses, haven’t seen footage yet but I’m sure they had a great view.

There were at least 5 different booths with DJI Phantoms and all except 1 was flying a GoPro. We saw a GoPro flying with a true real-time wireless monitoring from Paralinx new Arrow+ system (which I also got to use on a set last week and it’s a great new system). And GoPros on gimbals so you can control the pitch, roll and yaw of the camera while flying. Phantoms really helped give GoPro a boost in functionality, they are affordable and very effective assets for all types of productions, albeit a little illegal.

iPhones vs DSLRs?

iPhones seemed to be the choice way to document the entire event. In previous years it was heavily DSLRs shooting video and stills with FS100s and small chip cameras being the major alternative. I saw a lot fewer crews shooting with this type of equipment and saw Matt Jeppsen from FreshDV relying entirely on his iPhone to cover the event, and it seemed like everyone else was doing the same.

What’s happening to the DSLRs? Last year you were practically swimming in DSLR-wielding beer drinkers. I was honestly really surprised to discover this at such a camera geek oriented event. Are people actually starting to look past the equipment and focus on what they are doing with it? I think Matt gave a great recap of the event, I’d argue it actually might be more effective then previous years and I honestly haven’t seen any footage come from CineGear coverage that wasn’t shot on a phone or GoPro…

My iPhone has always been an invaluable part of my life, I think the potential of Vine is huge and I love that it’s starting to be taken seriously. We don’t need to be constantly waving around our big camera rigs to work in event coverage, a smart news shooter can travel light and still be effective.

The Gear

LED lights were a huge thing at CineGear. Seems like everyone has a light panel now. Mole was showing off their LED Fresnels and they looked great. Nila had some awesome new fixtures also, huge throw, and powerful enough that it was punching through sunlight over 40-ish yards. Arri was demoing their L-Series, color LED Fresnel fixture. Seemed to cover a massive range of colors and outputs.

Radiant Images (an LA-based rental house) had some cool new toys to see. Their previously announced rehoused Novo, GoPro Hero3 with custom firmware and a C-mount, was being tossed around in a small gun grip rig and with PL mount adapters to a Zeiss 70-200 amongst other things. The first thing you need to know about it how it’s modified from a standard GoPro is manual exposure control, one of my least favorite things about GoPros are their auto exposure and this kills that flaw. News recently came out that it’s been used in Transformers 4, along with by Shane Hurlbut in the Need for Speed film. They had a new Novo called the Novo 2K added to the mix (a re-housed SI 2K), it shoots uncompressed raw 2K on a 2/3″ sensor with a C-Mount. They also had the Arri Alexa XT on display.

Sony’s new F5 and F55 were surprisingly visible all around the lot also. Solid Camera was showing off their Scatter Box for them (and also giving out PL mount bottle caps). Other booths were showing their rigs and handles mounted on them as well, it seems like Sony really made an effort to make it’s presence known.

Raw and 4K were buzz words as always but the big ringer in that department was the FS700 and it’s new firmware and recorders. Both the Sony AXSR5 Recorder and Convergent Design 7Q were being showcased, and Matt got a vine of the 7Q in action. The 7Q seems like the way to go, it’s a gorgeous 7″ display and raw recorder, the unit is $2,300 and with ready to record raw on set for under $6K, while the AXSR5 is over $5,000 before you buy the media.

All in all, it was a great event, got to see and meet some great people, play with new toys and got to put my hands on some gear. Chris Marino and I even got to steal the Schneider Xenons for a night. I don’t know what it means that DSLRs were fading but I’m glad to see a shift into a more camera agnostic era.

Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.