All is possible

Month: January 2024

Why box cams are not good for those who would want them

I remember for a lifetime the desire of gear, hardware of filmmakers, instigated by the manufacturers of camera props, the possiiblity of attaching, adding pieces to one’s camera, “upgrading” it according to them, often putting what they might need, filling and surrounding the camera with anything and everything and then using them for the run-and-gun style… that is, the guerrilla style that is supposed to be grounded in simplicity.

Curious how in parallel fields, such as photography, this kind of Rigging has never caught on, photographers add a cover to the camera, sleek, a larger button … at most a battery grig to increase the range of the camera during prolonged shots, but nothing over the top.

The No. 1 excuse I hear from people who want box cams is :
they want to customize it, because they need the cam with the components arranged differently … mah … mostly because I usually hear this kind of excuse used by people who have no real experience with multiple cameras, if it’s okay with a phone and an SLR, but have never used real cameras, shoulder cams or those kind of cameras where the ergonomics are studied for DECADES and everything is designed to make people work in a certain way.

In fact as soon as I see a rig of these characters I can notice three uncomfortable things :
weight balance: the structure is not designed to distribute the weight as one moves, walks, or simply holds it on an in hand, causing wobbles and/or problems after a short time that one uses the camera, never mind then the idea of putting it on a gimbal, since weight distribution and monitor position are critical for handling on that type of product.
ergonomics: the buttons to push, the wheels to turn to control focus, aperture, and zoom are not usable by the same hand.
transportability: almost all rigs I have seen are prone to damage when transporting the camera because the structure and wiring are not protected and if placed in duffel bags, flycases etc anyway they will risk hitting and damaging camera connectors and other equipment.

Excuse number two is :
if they have to mount it for special shots e.g

  • camera car : a rig to mount any camera on a car, stable, costs from 200 to 500 euros, and you mount cameras for several kilograms, no need to put a box cam, and in most cases a bigger camera is also more stable. however all these rigs have a mount for a tripod head and so you mount what you want.
    If you have to make a light rig, you use action cams like the latest gopros, or like the blackmagic micro studio cam g2, to stay on the light side.
  • drone cam: this is the meaning that makes me laugh the most … because the people who say that don’t have a license, don’t know what it means to fly a drone nor what the logic is to fly it.
    To have a drone that lifts a 300-400 gr camera you have to spend several thousand euros, you have to do it professionally, you have to have spent as many euros for licenses for large drones, insurance etc., not to mention that the camera would fly almost blind, while since there are with lesser expenses drones with cameras that record even in raw, with total control, hassemblad optics, it is ridiculous to even think about it … but admitting you want to do it, it means that there are no budget problems.

The number three excuse is that the camera is not suitable for their type of shooting, so they have to make it from run and gun to shoulder cam, adding shoulder strap, side monitor, handles, hang various cables, more elements from the battery to power the products

  • from box cam to shoulder cam means spending a lot of money add powering many connected elements, monitor/viewfinder, microphone, audio recorder, radiomicrophone; mount a shoulder strap and magic arms to bring monitor in front of them, often too close causing eye fatigue.
  • connecting multiple products to a battery puts you at risk of what is known as ground loop; when connecting multiple devices to the same battery you risk short-circuiting and frying hdmi and sdi connectors like nothing.
  • in the end if the camera is not born to be shouldered it becomes difficult to have a good weight balance, which will result in a camera that is difficult to balance on the shoulder when moving around, when changing focal lengths or focus, when you have to shoot for an extended time.

So in short, those who want a box cam to change the rig and adapt it to more situations and save money instead of buying more cameras will end up spending more on accessories and outlines; those who want to change the nature of the camera will end up with a camera that never has the buttons in the right place, so they will lose time (vital for run-and-gun people) in looking for controls and/or changing settings; those who want to place it in special places will find that they will still have to add at the very least a video transmitter to see its outputs with the rig and will find that it is no longer economical to make these kinds of choices…

my real impression is that those kind of people who love box cams are like those friends who were always behind modifying the scooter, applying mods and bragging about the specs more than using it to get around, now for me it’s all good, everyone does what they want with their equipment and their money, as long as they don’t become obsessive to make you change your choices, to justify theirs ;-D

For everyone else, who has no budget problems, box cams are perfect, because they will be the chambers for what they need, while for other operations, they will use other chambers, because each chamber has its natural environment of action.

An example :
Red Komodo, perfect lightweight, versatile. just the camera body is 6k, then added a monitor, proprietary mounts where to record and two or three other trifles, you get to 10k no problem. so if you have spent 10k on a specific camera it is not a problem to spend more on a second cam more comfortable to put it on your shoulder.

Sony Fx 3, perfect, versatile, lightweight, just the camera body is 4.7k, then add external monitor, external recorder for raw, and we get to 7-8k without problem

Panasonic Lumix DC-BS1HE, light, versatile, good sensor, only the body 3.4k, to add then external monitor and/or external recorder for raw, and we arrive without problem to 5/6k

just to mention well-known brands of box cams of a certain level.

Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera g2, the box cam from Blackmagic that no one or hardly anyone knows about.

We live in an absurd world where people cry miracles if some influencer on duty or some social presents a novelty… that maybe novelty is not, and maybe has officially existed for years.

Recently all the major social media are commenting on a mod of the pocket 6k g1 to turn it into a box cam, which seems to be the holy grall of videomakers (we will talk about this in another article), you can see this mod on the official website and the rendering video on youtube

Now don’t think that I am against these initiatives, on the contrary… I admire those who have the ability to design and create these mods, but that is not the topic of this post, so much as the fact that Blackmagic has been producing a box cam for years, but for some reason, not being advertised as such, it is completely ignored…

Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera G2

Here you find what everyone wants, but doesn’t know is already in production, and it is the second iteration of this type of camera.

Let’s play a little game, question and answer :

Why do you want a box cam?

because I want to rig it the way I want it, because I want it lightweight to put on a gimbal, drone, and do action shots anywhere.

What do you want from a box cam?

light weight, convenience, good quality, versatility, multiple power supplies.

Why haven’t you looked at this box cam?
because most people don’t know it exists….

The Micro Studio cam is based on the design of the pocket4k, in a mini version…
The Micro Studio Cam is a digital camera with:

  • 300gr camera
  • 4/3 sensor and m4/3 mount (sound familiar?)
  • double iso with good sensitivity of a sony sensor
  • 13 stops of dynamic range
  • 23.97 at 60fps
  • timelapse and hyperlapse functions
  • Lut support and all the classic BMD Os functions
  • records in braw to USB port
  • hDMI output, SDI input and output (the pocket does not have this)
  • remote control via HDMI, SDI and USB-ethernet via ARC protocol
  • External microphone input
  • input for 12v power supply
  • support for lp6 classics
  • one 1/4 top and 3 under-camera connections

If I have tickled the curiosity of most I suggest seeing this review, which is very comprehensive and well thought out.

The next time we think something doesn’t exist, let’s try it the old fashioned way, look at the manufacturer’s site and see all the models and their working characteristics, maybe it can be more convenient, especially for those who have to put cameras on drones and want to optimize weight and control.
For those who are more geeky, I have seen several projects that through arduino create very interesting controls for this cam.



We should use what we have

With the beginning of the new year there are always many resolutions, those who want to lose weight in response to the revelry done at Christmas and New Year, those who want to get in shape, those who want to renew clothes and … of course those involved in creation find an excuse to buy something new 😛

A good excuse to throw the old out the window and move on to the new….

or maybe not…maybe it would be time to learn to understand what we have on our hands and not follow the consumerist fads of this society that is filling the world more and more with junk of all kinds.

I realized while reading on a forum that people are becoming more and more superficial even when they cannot afford it, and they decide to change tools, equipment, etc. just because they have been told it is not adequate, when maybe it has higher poteziality and features than the one they covet, but just because it does not have the right color or shape…

In the post a person would have paid $1500 for a phone that did a number of things, that a 7-8 year old cam already did, better and with extra features, but they don’t consider it, because it is not a phone.

In another post I was reading about a person who did not understand why the photographic optics did not hold focus while zooming, complaining that it was a foregone conclusion that it should be, and to the suggestion that he could buy a camera that has parfocal zoom (not that he knew what it was, but that was what he was cecing), the response was that everyone makes videos with cameras (mirrorless he called them not knowing that there are other types as well), that cameras have not existed for many years, and other amenities that I will spare you…. considering that the person in question has never taken a picture, because “in his own words, pictures are now taken with the phone,” there was no reason to use a mirrorless, but he saw that youtubers, tiktokers do this, say that…

i always remain puzzled how people buy without doing serious research, but rely on theoretical gurus, because it’s easier, and then discovering that they are not the right products for what they need, roar endlessly on all social and forums that product x sucks, that it doesn’t have the features they need…

At the same time, I remain convinced that people don’t know how to learn how to use what they have, from the simple phone to more sophisticated rooms, because of the laziness of not reading manuals even if they are short… i know people who didn’t read the manual of the first blackmagic, 26 pages with pictures, and then didn’t know how to navigate with 6 camera buttons and the three pages of camera menus… let alone pick up a more modern camera where the menus are at least a hundred with as many variations of functions…

let’s learn to use what we have, understand its strengths and weaknesses, make a list of what can be done with what we have, and use them!

some time ago this method led a young texmex to break the rules in Hollywood, you can read his words in a book where he expounds on his first experience with an independent film shot with a lamp, a borrowed camera, the film to shoot scenes once, lots of friends and a lot of desire to do

a rebel without a crew, by Rober Rodriguez…

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