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Old March 24th, 2016, 08:19 PM   #1
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LS300 - On the fence...

Hey you LS300 users,

As I've been lurking for a while (and reading every LS300 post I could get my hands on), I wanted to see what you guys still think about the LS300. The $1K instant rebate promotion is ending next week (NAB 2016 is in a few weeks!) and I'm still trying to decide if we should finally upgrade. What are your thoughts?

******************

First of all, here's where we're coming from...

To give you an idea of our current workflow, we're shooting with a Canon XF100 (4:2:2 8-bit HD) as our A-cam which has saved us many times over in post per color correction/brightness and with image stabilization. Our B-cam is a Canon 5D Mk II (and a 60D) with Magic Lantern, which has offered us wonderful shallow DoF, but utilizes an unforgiving 4:2:0 color space and iffy image stabilization with some of our Canon lenses. I've agonized in post to get the color/brightness right...and usually we use the XF100 to match to whatever is baked into the 5D footage.

Given that the LS300's form factor is nearly identical to our XF100, it's a size/format that we're already comfortable with. The idea that we have quite a few Canon EF lenses on hand, grabbing an LS300 and a Metabones adapter (Maybe a speed booster...what do you think?) seems very appealing...particularly as we'd love to have the form-factor of our XF100 - but with the shallow DoF of DSLR lenses. Given that we even have a follow-focus unit with 15mm rails here...it's tempting to set up some sort of rig with that.

Deliverables? 1080p/24 for our masters...but we're most concerned with being able to provide network TV broadcast approved footage if necessary. We film about 65% run-n-gun / 35% narrative.

4K and future proofing our current footage? That would be really nice - particularly if we're investing in a new camera. For HD footage, we'd love to do some zooms in post for extra angles (fake close-ups). We might have occasional access to an Atomos Shogun for 4K external capture, but from what I gather - the LS300's 4K external footage would be 8-bit either way...and it looks like it might still be 4:2:0...so would there really be any point in using a Shogun aside from enjoying a larger monitor?

In this day an age, should we even care in post that the 4k footage is recorded in 4:2:0 and not 4:2:2? The J-log upgrade stuff looks great per nice contrasty stuff...

I am concerned about resale value; this camera seems like a true underdog here and the price slashing has me worried...given that the cam was first announced in 2014.

Price-wise, we've been considering a used Sony NXCAM NEX-FS700R body instead. We also investigated the Sony A7Rii and the A7Sii...but both of which really don't seem easy to use with run-n-gun situations and seem to overheat...plus no XLR inputs...etc...

Low light? It appears that the XF100 and the LS300 aren't so great. That's probably not such a big problem for us though...

Image stabilization? We typically shoot handheld with the XF100, and on a monopod with the 5D. Particularly for you guys with Canon EF glass with IS, please chime in if Canon's IS really helps! We're used to great image stabilization with the XF100.

The upcoming firmware upgrade for the LS300? No sweat, and the slo-mo in April would be a nice perk. Plus, we're used to upgrading firmware all the time. (Maybe JVC is doing the discount to move their pre-firmware upgrade units?)

Our budget? $3k is our max right now, and we'd sell off the XF100 to partially fund the LS300 purchase. Without the instant rebate, the LS300 would be out of reach for now.

Okay...that's a mouthful right there. I'm all ears and thanks for your thoughts and time!
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Old March 25th, 2016, 02:15 AM   #2
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Concerning low light, it's not a very good performer compared to other large sensor dslr's but it will be a lot better then the xf100 when you couple it with a fast prime.

About it being 4:2:2 8bit, if that worked out fine with your xf100 then I"m sure the ls300 will do fine as well, eventhough it's 4:2:2 it's still a 8bit codec, things start to matter once it becomes a 10bit codec which hopefully would be in a future firmware upgrade.

Others will chime in with metabones experience but I only work with native m4/3 lenses and especially the 12-35mm f2.8 is a great run and gun lens.

I'm not sure if resale value would be the biggest problem, every camera below 3k looses value fast once you buy it, the problem might be to find buyers for it. my camera came with a 5 year warranty which will become it's biggest advantage if I decide to sell it in 3 years
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Old March 25th, 2016, 03:25 AM   #3
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

One of the biggest selling points of the LS300 is what it doesn’t come with. A lens. That is, one that can’t be removed.

For years, the fastest depreciating item in the kit has been the cam; however, good glass holds it’s value much better. Depending on what one is shooting, some nice prime glass can really help make the picture. It really makes sense to buy a cam sans glass, if it’s possible. Everyone has their priority but for me, to have a cam that one can put a prime lens on is a real plus.

If you have lenses that can be made to work then that’s like money in the bank.
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Old March 25th, 2016, 08:07 AM   #4
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

@Noa - That's a great point per the low light...as I'm guessing it's a similar performer low-light wise...but a fast
prime will be an improvement that we simply didn't have before on the XF100.

The two key things that the 4:2:2 helped us in post, was that we had both color and contrast flexibility. But if we shot in 4k in the LS300...would be lose that?

The funny thing is that we just sold off a few of our primes (to bring in some cash), as we simply weren't using them. In fact, we just sold off our 35L 1.4 (Mk I) as the DoF was too shallow for video for us...as one's nose would be in focus and the rest of the face would be blurry on our 5D! ;)

Generally, per our 5D, we've been more concerned with getting image stabilization out of our Canon EF zooms, which our primes just didn't have. We'd resort to our f/2.8 glass without IS for really shallow DoF. Given that we also use our Canon lenses for stills, we still need them overall.

@John - Resale...it seems like there's never an easy answer. I just figured that maybe it's time to upgrade now while the XF100 still has some value to it. Regardless, we're definitely going to avoid buying any camera with a fixed lens in the future.



Thank you both for your early responses! Looking forward to hearing more from you LS300 guys...particularly per the EF Metabones (and speed booster)...how editable/grade-able the 4K footage been in post (particularly with J-Log...something totally new to me)... image stabilization with EF lenses...etc.

Finally...has anyone recorded 4K out via HDMI? Was it actually 4:2:0?

Thanks!
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Old March 25th, 2016, 11:14 AM   #5
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Seth: I also have an XF100 that bought as a "glove compartment camera" to replace my HV40 - believe me, the LS300 is far superior in every aspect - except viewfinder (both are poor) and XLR input/audio (both are similar and completely usable, with the JVC taking a slight lead).

Resale: At the current price, it's worth buying for just one job - in fact that's exactly what I did - I got rid of my C100 and bought it with the intention of replacing it with the FS5 when it became available. I like the LS300 better than the Sony though, so I'm keeping it until it's worth $0.

As stated above, lenses - it will use virtually any lens that's ever been made. I use mine primarily with five Rokinon and four Leica-R primes, an Olympus 12-40, Lumix 35-100 and - now that Metabones has finally released a decent firmware upgrade - my Canon 24-105 and 17-55 (non-SpeedBooster). The 17-55 is the favorite zoom as of this writing - and yes, the stabilization works. NOTE: The zooms mentioned are, unfortunately, NOT parfocal on this camera, although they do act parfocal on every other camera I've tried them on - this was the subject of one of my first posts here.

J-Log1 is extremely easily to grade, and if your exposure is good the 8bit isn't much of an issue - except with the old bugaboos of long fades to black or vignette overlays (banding can rear it's ugly head). We all want 10bit, but I'm afraid that's going to be a hardware (cooling?) issue on a (hopefully) future model.

The image quality is superb. There's no evidence of highlight chroma clipping, which is what killed the otherwise excellent AF100. I've shot some UHD (the job I bought it for) and honestly don't know if it becomes 10bit (as some have said) when down-converted to 1080p - but the acquired UHD or 1080 resolution is WAY better than the XF100 or C100 in either case.

The Prime Zoom feature is worth the price of admission - especially now that it's remote controllable. It turns the EF-S 17-55 into an f.2.8 17mm (to about) 120mm lens, which is nearly perfect on this sensor. What I do to offset the non-parfocal issue is set the zoom to my intended widest shot and use the Prime Zoom to zoom in to focus and/or reframe (this all in 1080 of course).

And with a sharp prime that uses the whole sensor, like the Rokinon 35 T1.5, you get a 35mm to about 85mm equivalent T1.5 manual focus and iris lens (which I prefer).

To me the LS300's a no brainer - with one caveat - it took me three tries to get a good one. But that was at first release and the QC manufacturing bugs have probably been worked out by now.
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Old March 26th, 2016, 01:05 PM   #6
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Hi guys!

Thank you all so much for your incredibly helpful and fast replies here.

(@Steve - a huge thanks for your last reply! I’ve been busy going through this and your other comments in other threads…you’ve been really on top of all this. Sorry to hear you had earlier issues, and should we go with it – hopefully we’d receive a later-production model with fewer issues.)

So here’s the scoop. After a lot of thought these past few days, the important thing that we’ve used our XF100 as an A-cam for has been for it’s significant image stabilization capability (and 4:2:2 color) for run-n-gun filming as we really do shoot handheld much of the time. The small form factor is outstanding. If we can get significant image stabilization, we may be good to go.

The 5D Mark II has been great for us on a monopod (the XF100 matches it pretty well) for gorgeous shallow DoF shots for composed shots and interviews, but it hasn’t been reliable (even with IS) for steady footage as a run-n-gun camera. Then again, the form factor of any HDSLR doesn’t seem as ideal as that of the XF100 or the LS300.

So the make-it or break-it question, is just how realistically useful the image stabilization from our Canon glass would be, in conjunction with a Metabones adapter. Here’s what we have at our disposal to work with our Canon IS lenses:

* 24-105L f4 IS
* 100L f2.8 macro IS
* 70-200L f2.8 IS (Mark I) with a 1.4x III extender
* 70-300 (non-L) IS f4-5.6 -- but it's a portable and sharp copy

*We’re also considering trading in our 16-35L f2.8 (Mark II) in favor of the newer 16-35L f4 IS, just for IS…

If we were shooting cinema/narrative, the LS300 would be a no-brainer; our 5D is currently fulfilling that role nicely at 4:2:0. However, we’re shooting a lot of “on the go” footage, particularly filming vehicles in motion from support vehicles…and we’d like to upgrade our XF100 to something with both IS and a shallow DoF. (That’s why the Sony A7Rii and the A7Sii are a bit appealing…)

If we go with the LS300, we'd obviously go the Metabones route. But what's the scoop about auto-focus on the EF lenses and Metabones? I read something about a firmware upgrade? Does AF now work? If so, how? It’s not clear at all on the Metabones site; I'm guessing the LS300 wouldn't continually focus like the XF100...let alone have auto-features like "face recognition." Of course these are more amateur and non-cinematic features, but actually helpful for really fast set-ups...

Plus…if we go the Metabones route, we’re thinking of getting the 0.71x SpeedBooster model, particularly in that we shoot a lot of cramped and indoor work…and we’d want to knock down the 1.4x crop factor. Also, has anyone here used the SpeedBooster model?

I was fortunate to chat with another LS300 fan on the phone yesterday, who said that the Canon IS simply wouldn’t be strong enough for what we need…and to just expect to use the camera totally manually. What do you all think?

As for sound, that’s disappointing to hear that included mic is so poor. I guess we’d lose it and just use the Audio Technica AT-875R or dual Sennheiser wireless lavs we own. (I was just wishing for something with better off-axis rejection…) I just hope the internal preamps are as clean as the XF100 have been…

Thoughts? All ears here as the clock ticks down on the instant rebate promotion. So many thanks!
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Old March 26th, 2016, 05:10 PM   #7
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Here's an update on the EF-S 17-55 lens with the non-SpeedBooster Metabones adapter. With that lens the IS works quite well, good enough for me anyway.

BUT, it's very difficult to hit focus regularly at mid-range or wider. I shot all day Friday with it, in agricultural fields (on tripod, IS off), and had a hard time - using the Gratical with it's peaking on - I missed infinity a couple of times and couldn't track focus from about 50 feet to 5 feet accurately without several practice tries. I've been doing this kind of shooting for 40 years, so believe me it's not lack of experience.

I switched to the Lumix 35-100 and Rokinon 35 and 85 and had no problems shooting at the same stop (4 - 5.6 split). Consequently I'm not as enthusiastic about that Canon lens as I thought I might be. If it were parfocal it would be okay, but without the ability to zoom in to focus it's pretty useless for fast shooting.

NOTE: I use the 24-105 all the time with a SpeedBooster on the Pocket Cameras and don't have the problem.
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Old March 26th, 2016, 05:44 PM   #8
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Interesting, Steve. What are you referring to per the "Pocket Cameras"?

Also, what's the story per Auto Focus on the Metabones?
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Old March 27th, 2016, 12:11 PM   #9
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Seth... I own two Black Magic Pocket Cameras, one with the EF SpeedBooster permanently attached - the support is screwed to the baseplate - the other I use with the native MFT mount, most often with the Olympus and Lumix zooms.

The auto focus function does not work well on either the SpeedBooster or the standard Metabones. When in use it sounds like a manual transmission grinding gears... Pretty bad.

Generally I don't depend on auto focus, so it hasn't been a problem. With the Pockets the internal peaking is output to the EVF, and it works well in Log (which is good, because AF is pretty unusable on those little cameras).

However, the LS300 doesn't output peaking via HDMi or SDI (I use the latter with the Gratical). With J-Log the Gratical can't seem to lock into the less contrasty image as well as the camera's internal peaking, thus the issue. For some reason the Lumix is better, although the resulting video from the 17-55 doesn't appear softer, in fact it seems sharper, so I'm not sure what the difference is, there may be someone with more knowledge of optics that could elaborate.

I should add that the sky was very misty in the Salinas Valley the day I was shooting.. I wanted the misty mountains in the distance to set off the clear plowed rows In the immediate foreground. That mist exacerbated the focusing issue - but I didn't have near the problem with the other lenses - again, I'm not sure why.
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Old March 27th, 2016, 12:18 PM   #10
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

I forgot to mention that AF works very well with the native MFT Lumix and Olympus lenses, and sometimes I do actually use it because every time you change focal length you need to refocus - I wish they acted par focal on this camera - so what I tend to do, as I said above, is set the lens at a focal length and use the Prime Zoom feature, combined with the Gratical's 1:1, to focus. Unfortunately that technique wasn't working well with the 17-55.
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Old March 27th, 2016, 12:28 PM   #11
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen View Post
However, the LS300 doesn't output peaking via HDMi or SDI
I get peaking on my external monitor that's connected with hdmi, is there a difference between what the camera outputs or what the monitor sees? From I can see the peaking on that ext monitor is accurate.
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Old March 27th, 2016, 05:55 PM   #12
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

I tried it with my camera when I first got it and it didn't work, pre firmware upgrades. I've been using the SDI since and it doesn't, I'll try the HDMI again when I get a chance...
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Old March 28th, 2016, 01:01 PM   #13
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Thanks, guys!

Well...The good news is that I've finally been able to schedule an appointment with my local JVC dealer for a demo tomorrow, which will be great. I'll bring in my Canon lenses tomorrow...

Two key things that I'm still wondering about:

1) Manual focus is a given, but I'm not clear about how (if at all) the auto focus would work as per Metabones - it's not continual auto-focus (face tracking...).

* When I half-press the shutter down on a DSLR stills camera, it focuses.
* When I leave the XF100 in fully automatic mode, it tracks and focuses completely.
* So with the AF on per the LS300 with a Metabones, it just like a 5D Mark II in AF mode? (which is unusable?)


2) Metabones SpeedBooster or not? What I gather is that the 0.71x would defeat the 1.4x crop, so the multiplication of our FF lenses (that's all we own) would remain pretty much the same. Plus, we'd get one more stop in the process. Am I missing anything here?
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Old March 28th, 2016, 01:15 PM   #14
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Can't help you in regard to the metabones because I don't use that but I can tell that with my native m4/3 lenses I can have the camera in manual, press a button and the camera refocuses. Autofocus is quite good, nor exceptional, but more then usable.
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Old March 28th, 2016, 01:25 PM   #15
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Re: LS300 - On the fence...

Thanks, Noa!

So let me get this straight. Let's say you're filming a talking head for an interview, with one of your M43 lenses that already has AF capability.

To get set up, you press an AF button, which nails the focus on the subject, leaving the background blurred (which is ideal). Then, you hit record and you're off to the races. If they go out of focus, you just hit the AF button again and the subject is back in focus. Is that correct?

Obviously, it's different than a camera that continually auto focuses on the subject or even has something like face tracking...but even basic auto focus ability seems like it would be a help.
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