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Olympus 4K camera demo


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 01:18 AM

I saw a test of the new prototype Olympus "4K" camera (4 2/3" CCD's, 1920 x 1080, two are green with one offset by half a pixel, creating 3840 x 2160 pixels for the green information).

It was projected in 4K using the Sony projector, and also in a 4K-to-35mm film-out.

First of all, 4K projection kicks ass, sharpness-wise -- 35mm print projection was clearly softer. But contrast and black levels of the Sony 4K projector aren't as good as the film print.

The image from the camera was amazingly sharp, I thought, and very clean. There were a number of downsides though: the effective ASA is between 100 to 200, there was a lot of vertical CCD flare around lights at night -- much worse than the Genesis -- although the engineer said that the problem was being addressed. Exposure latitude was inbetween that of regular HD and the Genesis, to my eyes.

I think what excited me more was the thought of future 35mm 4K D.I.'s being projected at 4K, giving us the equivalent of the old blow-ups to 70mm prints that we used to get. And 4K digital photography would be incredibly clean looking, like 65mm origination.
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 03:00 AM

I think what excited me more was the thought of future 35mm 4K D.I.'s being projected at 4K, giving us the equivalent of the old blow-ups to 70mm prints that we used to get.

But only if they get the contrast and black level up to par with film, which isn't happening yet.
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#3 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 08:48 AM

It was projected in 4K using the Sony projector, and also in a 4K-to-35mm film-out.

First of all, 4K projection kicks ass, sharpness-wise -- 35mm print projection was clearly softer. But contrast and black levels of the Sony 4K projector aren't as good as the film print.

The thing that always worries me about this sort of demonstration is that you're nealy always looking at a film print and projector combination that the manufacturer of the competing device has provided themselves. I particularly remember an early PV demo of the CineAlta vs 35mm film projection, where half the audience were muttering amongst themselves, saying "who made that print" and so on.

I can't see why 35mm film should be inherently softer, since in both an SXRD or a film projector you're doing essentially the same thing: projecting much the same-sized optical image onto the same-sized screen.

The only really valid test would be for the company to arrange a shootout, where some top-name cinematographer was simply given the task of producing the best possible projected image of the same subject he could, using whatever 35mm camera, film, Post-production and projector he thought appropriate.

I've got to say, all of the 4K Sony projection of 35mm sourced material I've seen has been extremely impressive, although admittedly, it was all stuff that Sony chose themselves.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 11:46 AM

This test was shot by Dave Stump, ASC, the 4K camera was by Olympus, the 4K projector was by Sony and that's just because it's the only 4K projector out there. The 35mm projector is a new Kinetone set-up at the Entertainment Technology Lab precisely for the point of testing digital projection against 35mm projection (which wasn't the point of this demo, just to see what the camera looked like in 4K digital projection versus 4K-to-35mm).

So this wasn't a demo set-up by Sony to beat-up on a 35mm projector -- my observations were just based on seeing 4K versus 35mm projection of the same footage, which I hadn't seen before. But I've seen many 2K versus 35mm projection demos at this lab and it other places, enough to see that 35mm print projection is not 4K even if the negative is.

I'm not sure anyone (but you maybe) has ever claimed that 35mm print projection was 4K, so I'm not even making a controversial statement. And remember that most release prints (I was watching a direct print off of the output neg) are made from IP/IN, so 4K projection would be even better compared to that scenario.

Anyway, I mentioned the downsides to the current Sony 4K projector in terms of blacks and contrast, although it's not horrible by any means, just not what print stock can achieve.

Some people didn't even want to see the film-out precisely because it would become more of a projector comparison, but more people were curious to see that the 4K camera footage looked like in a 35mm film-out and we were warned to take into account what 35mm projection was going to look like.

You have to remember that this is a HUGE venue, the Hollywood Pacific theater -- it was the Cinerama theater for Los Angeles before the Cinerama Dome was built in 1963. So the projection is quite magnified and we were sitting quite close to the screen. That's really pushing a 1.85 35mm print image to the limit.
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#5 Keith Mottram

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:23 AM

David,

there are always trade offs, but in an ideal world would you rather have your work exhibited with the sharpness of the 4k Sony or the increased contrast/ black levels/ grain, dust, scratches/ instability of the film print?

Keith
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#6 Sam Wells

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 09:25 AM

there are always trade offs, but in an ideal world would you rather have your work exhibited with the sharpness of the 4k Sony or the increased contrast/ black levels/ grain, dust, scratches/ instability of the film print?

Keith


I'm not David but NO NO NO this is a slippery slope, electronic sharpness alone is not worth it IMO.

We need to strive for both..

Film sets the bar high and that's a good thing..

-Sam
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#7 Max Jacoby

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 09:35 AM

Personally I think the look and feel are much more important factors than sharpness. That is also why I prefer the look of a CRT television to that of a plasma or god forbid an LCD screen. And to be honest, it's not like 35mm projection is not sharp looking.
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#8 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 10:25 AM

Much of the loss of potential sharpness in release prints is a result of practices driven by production deadlines and labs not being given enough time for "Film Done Right". All labs know that there is printer slippage when you are forced to print a short pitch original to a short pitch raw stock on a continous contact printer, and that a pin-registered step printer SHOULD be used for optimum steadiness and sharpness in making duplicate negatives. Yet, when a lab has to turn out a dozen or so duplicate negatives for worldwide release, and is only given a week or so to do it, the faster continuous contact printers are usually used --- hundreds of feet per minute rather than a few frames per second.

Ironically, the very high speed printers used for release printing are usually very good for maintaining sharp and steady images, as they are printing a short pitch duplicate negative onto a long pitch print film, as the printers were designed to do.

Modern lenses and projectors are perfectly capable of projecting 35mm images with over 80 line pairs per millimeter of resolution, as measured by the SMPTE 35-PA (RP40) test film.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 10:31 AM

I like most 35mm projection just fine when its done well, but I miss 70mm releases and I think 4K projection may be our only hope towards regaining really clear images on the big screen (that and these IMAX DMR releases.) A 35mm print is a postage stamp-sized image being thrown up on some screens that are way too big and far away; we should bring back 70mm release prints for those venues but I don't see that happening.
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#10 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 02:00 AM

Personally I think the look and feel are much more important factors than sharpness. That is also why I prefer the look of a CRT television to that of a plasma or god forbid an LCD screen. And to be honest, it's not like 35mm projection is not sharp looking.

If you're talking value-for-money, you're certainly right there, in that set up correctly, even the cheapest CRT colour TV will give you a better picture than the most expensive plasma screen. However, LCD models have improved dramatically in quality over the past 18 months or so, and they're certainly the most affordable "half-HDTV" 1366 x 768 displays on the market.

Sony no longer make Consumer Plasma screens (well they never did anyway, their Plasmas were made by Fujitsu) but they've gone all-out on their new "Bravia" LCD models which they do make themselves, and which are about the only decent products they make anymore!

Well let me re-phrase that: they're about the only category of sony consumer products that aren't made better, cheaper and more reliable by just about everybody else.
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#11 Max Jacoby

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 04:13 AM

You can't imagine the numer of conversations I've had with people who claim that flat screens are so amazing. Just because they're big and look stylish. People tend to get very upset when I tell them that their £4000 Plasma sucks compared to my £260 CRT and that in the filmindustry no one uses flatscrens for serious color-correction. But these are the same people who stretch out 4/3 programming to 16/9 because otherwise their screen has black bars. Kind of like a reverse 'Pan & Scan'.
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#12 Arni Heimir

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 07:36 AM

Max, I agree with you. LCDs and Plamsa screens don't do much for me. Although, I was recently in a electronics store and saw an Xbox demo being played on a 50 inch plasma screen. And it looked very good. But I also saw dvd movie being shown on the same model, and I found the image quality to be less than average.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 09:45 AM

Trouble with HD CRT's is not the picture quality, it's the size & weight when you start talking about 40" screens. When I decided to get an HD monitor, I ended up with a 37" Sharp LCD mainly because it would fit into my living room. The large HD CRT's were three-feet deep.

I like everything about the LCD picture except the blacks, which suck.
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#14 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 10:27 AM

Trouble with HD CRT's is not the picture quality, it's the size & weight when you start talking about 40" screens. When I decided to get an HD monitor, I ended up with a 37" Sharp LCD mainly because it would fit into my living room. The large HD CRT's were three-feet deep.

I like everything about the LCD picture except the blacks, which suck.

They can "cheat" with that, by varying the intensity of the LCD backlight. Many current-model rear projection LCD TVs have a contraption like an overgrown camera iris to regulate the amount of light that gets through to the projector, which is how they can claim a 10,000:1 contrast ratio! Unfortunately, the reliability of these things is extremely dodgy.

However there are supposed to be new model ("8th generation") "true" LCD screens in the pipeline that will use white LEDs instead of the more usual fluorescent backlight, which means the intensity can be varied at will without affecting the colour temperature, which should give much better blacks. They're getting there....
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#15 Thomas James

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 11:20 AM

The thing I don't like about the Olympus 4k camera is that it maxes out at only 30 frames per second but Red digital Cinema shoots 4k at the full 60 frames per second. Also what is the price of the Olympus? Red has an MSRP of $17,500 for a bare camera but I suppose I should figure on spending $35,000 for a complete system.
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#16 Max Jacoby

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 11:47 AM

You cannot compare the Red to the Olympus for the very simple reason that Red is still in development. Their specs are at the moment only on paper.
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#17 Thomas James

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 01:29 PM

The Red may still be in development but is the Olympus actually shipping in the United States or is it only shipping in Japan? If so what is the price of the Olympus camera? By fall a prototype of the Red camera should be available and the Red should start to ship by early next year if things stay on schedule. Red has already tested their 4k CCD.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 03:48 PM

The Olympus is still a prototype camera, hence why they were looking for feedback at this demo I attended. But I'm sure it will be priced as a high-end pro camera, not following RED's business model.
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#19 Michael Most

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 04:01 PM

The thing I don't like about the Olympus 4k camera is that it maxes out at only 30 frames per second but Red digital Cinema shoots 4k at the full 60 frames per second. Also what is the price of the Olympus? Red has an MSRP of $17,500 for a bare camera but I suppose I should figure on spending $35,000 for a complete system.


The Red camera doesn't shoot anything right now, because it doesn't exist yet. If you want to compare projected specifications for non-existent products, be my guest, but you should make it clear that's what you're doing.
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#20 Stephen Williams

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 04:40 PM

The thing I don't like about the Olympus 4k camera is that it maxes out at only 30 frames per second but Red digital Cinema shoots 4k at the full 60 frames per second. Also what is the price of the Olympus? Red has an MSRP of $17,500 for a bare camera but I suppose I should figure on spending $35,000 for a complete system.


Hi,

Have you thought about how you will record those 60 FPS frames @ 4K?

Stephen
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