3.25.2020

Latest news on the gear front. High speed camera storage is pleasant.

Samsung SSD Drive and SmallRig mounting clamp. 

As some of you know I bought a really interesting camera a while back. It's called a Sigma fp and while it's a bit limited as a still camera (you will NOT be photographing your kid's soccer game with one ---- unless you are a masochist...) it has some interesting features for those interested in playing around at one of the cutting edges of consumer video. The most interesting of those video features is that this is one of the few inexpensive (relative term) cameras that will allow you to capture video in a raw, uncompressed format. 

Shooting video in raw offers the same kind of flexibility that you are used to getting when shooting raw photographs. You can do so much color correction and exposure correction without "breaking" the files and adding nasty stuff like banding and digital noise.  You can pull amazing detail from the shadows and you'll find lots of detail hiding in what would have otherwise been blown highlights. 

But there is one big issue. You'll be working with files that are coming into your camera at up to 2400 Mbps if you make video at the highest quality settings = 4K 12 bit, uncompressed, 23.98, 4:4:4. It's a data rate that's much too fast for any commercially available SD card. It's ponderous amounts of information coming in at high velocity. 

If you want to play around with the fast, high bit depth, raw files you need a different memory solution and HDMI solutions are not going to fill the bill. 

The recommended fast storage is the Samsung T5 one or two terabyte SSD drive (the lower capacity 500 Gb drive is not certified to work by Sigma). It writes continuously at nearly 600 Mbps, sustained, which is fast enough to record the data set from the camera. I'm not sure I get the math since the drive seems to handle a lower amount than the max capable from the camera but video is variable and so is the data rate. With buffering I guess it all works out...

The drive is light and tiny and connects to the camera through its USB 3.1 port. It works pretty flawlessly with the Sigma camera and I haven't had any stalls or hiccups in my testing so far. The one thing you'll also need to figure out is how to mount the SSD drive to a cage or directly to your camera. I've built a universal, tripod mount cage from parts I get from SmallRig and they make a clamp connector specifically for the T5 drive which I can bolt onto my rig. Not completely elegant but very workable. 

Let's talk honestly though. Do I intend to shoot anything at the maximum data rate possible with the Sigma fp? Probably not. It's fun to play around with and it's scary to see how fast a one terabyte drive fills up. I doubt I will see the difference between 12 bit and 10 bit video just as I rarely see much difference between a 16 bit Photoshop file and an 8 bit Jpeg file on my iMac Pro 5K monitor. But, there may come a day when someone somewhere wants a perfect 30 second clip for a very specific purpose. I'll be ready...

For the rest of the time I will be able to use the SSD to get 12 bit, 1080 (FHD) files that I will have a lot of use for. Also, the bit depth will come in handy when Sigma gets around to creating a Log setting.

One important advantage that I don't see many people mentioning is that you can use the SSD for output at any file setting. That means you can go all the way to the 2 hour limit with smaller or less data intensive files without having to stop and change out memory cards. The flip side advantage is that when your long shoot is over you can plug the SSD directly into your computer for super fast downloads. Hell, if you want to play fast and loose you can even plug in and edit directly on the SSD. 

Pros will stridently suggest that a back-up is always necessary but if you are shooting for yourself, doing tests, working out the kinks or just trying something new, a back-up isn't always absolutely required. Just don't cry if you accidentally lose something. 

Sigma has a new firmware update for the fp. It's  1.02 and it's mostly just a bunch of bug fixes. I'll get around to updating mine today. 

Being a "silver lining" kind of guy I sure am relishing the current downtime as an opportunity to really learn the ins and out of my video gear. I never seem to have enough unstructured time to really dive in deep when we're working on a regular schedule...

A kindly intended note for people who blog for the $$$: You've got a bigger audience right now than you will when everyone goes back to work. You need to feed them content they love in very regular doses. You will be doing a community service. We all want stuff to read and stuff to take our minds off the crisis (me included). Now is not the time to decide that you too will take some time off. We need your stuff more than ever before. So, stop puttering around and get me some fresh content! And remember, we can read all about the virus everywhere else, you might consider writing stuff we enjoy instead. Like about cameras and lenses and photography. 

If we love your blog or your V-log then you are doing everyone a community service by stepping up and being consistent. Just a suggestion. 

6 comments:

Dave Jenkins said...

I'm not blogging for money, at least not for the foreseeable future, but I would certainly like to increase readership so as to feel that I am contributing something others may find informative or enjoyable or both.
alifeinphotography.blogspot.com

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Thanks Dave! Sounds good. I love it when everyone shares.

Anonymous said...

Kirk, I’ve mentioned this before, but I am profoundly grateful for your blog posts whether about technical details of video, your Sigma fp or any other darn subject which takes my mind off the terrible news. Thanks for your dedication and hard work! Rob

Richard P said...

I couldn’t agree more about not wasting time blogging virus advice on a certain photo related blog ;-( .

Dave Jenkins said...

Thanks for the encouragement Kirk, and for the example. Your blog and Mike's are my two must-reads.

In case anyone is interested, I post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning. alifeinphotography.blogspot.com

Andrew w. said...

One thought for those that 'absolutely must have' an immediate backup - use the fast SSDs in an enclosure that can handle mirrored drives. Would give the same benefits as the dual cards in the camera.