Thoughts On The iMac 5k

Apple announced a new iMac 5K, the latest iMac. This new machine boasts a whopping 5k (5120 x 2880) retina display! That is an impressive number of pixels, to say the least. But aside from the new screen, is upgrading to this machine really worth it?

iMac 5k

Thoughts On The iMac 5k

Over the last several years, I have edited on both iMacs and on Windows machines. When configured similarly, there is not a lot of difference between how fast the two machines operate (now I duck to avoid low-flying objects).

While the iMac 5K has a great display going for it, many users are still generating 1080p content for web delivery. So you have to wonder if the 5K monitor is going to add value to your final product.

The Good of the iMac 5k:

– 5K Retina Display
– Apple Ecosystem (Apple software is pretty good)
– Supports a second display up to 3840 x 2160 resolution (in case 5k isn’t enough)
– i5 processor, AMD 2Gig graphics, 8 Gigs RAM on base model (not terrible)
– Upgradeable to 4.0 GHz i7 processor, 4 Gig video card, and 32(!) Gigs RAM

The Not So Good of the iMac 5k:

– Base model has only okay specs for heavy video editing
– It’s expensive, especially if you opt for the upgraded processor, graphics, and RAM
– It’s not user upgradeable

Final Thoughts on the iMac 5k:

It seems odd that you can get a new 27 inch non-Retina iMac configured with nearly the same specs (similar i7 processor, 32 Gigs RAM, 4 GB video card) for almost $700 less then the same specs on the iMac 5k. Since this is more than enough computing power, you have to ask yourself if a 5K display is worth it for you.

At the end of the day, buying the newest iMac won’t instantly make you a better editor. And I’m not even sure if the human eye can detect this type of resolution. But if you’d like to upgrade to the iMac 5K anyway (because it’s super cool), please feel free to utilize our iMac 5k Amazon affiliate link.

The Atomos Shogun

How The Atomos Shogun Shows Filmmakers What They Are Capturing – by Michael Head

DSLR filmmakers have a distinct need to see what they are shooting, including framing, exposure and focus. The challenge is, DSLRs typically have small screens on the back of the camera, which are not ideal for viewfinding (even with the movable screens many DSLRs now feature.)

Enter the viewfinder. A viewfinder is basically a screen that takes an image from the sensor and lets you put it where you want it. Having a viewfinder is a great tool. Since the advent, many manufacturers have now incorporated the ability to record images directly from the viewfinder as well.

Doing this avoids the compressed video taken internally by the camera and allows for greater flexibility of recording format and media.

One of the leaders in this field is Atomos.

In the past, I have utilized the Ninja 2 recorder for about a year now, and I have never regretted the purchase. But with the increasing accessibility of 4k video, Atomos has stepped up to the plate with the soon forthcoming Atomos Shogun.


Atomos Shogun

Atomos made some very smart choices for their recorders.

While there are no shortage of monitor or recorders, many manufactures went the route of specialized, dedicated media. This basically amounts to an SSD (solid state drive) in a specially designed package.

Atomos went another direction with the Atomos Shogun.

For starters, the Atomos Shogun utilizes off-the-shelf 2.5 inch SSDs and spinning disk hard drives – the kind you would put into a laptop. I think that is brilliant because it means that while storage media must be considered, it is also generally affordable and coming down in price all the time.

The Good of The Atomos Shogun:

  • 1980 x 1200 DPI 7 inch screen – above HD to allow for additional controls
  • Records 1080P from 23.98 (24) fps to 120 fps – high defintion slow-mo!
  • Records Ultra HD 4K up to 30 fps – even over HDMI
  • Records in flavors of Prores and in Cinema DNG raw files – for cameras that can out put raw
  • HDMI, 3G-SDI, and Genlock for timecode inputs
  • Audio breakout cable with 3.5mm and XLR inputs – Who needs dual system audio?
  • Variety of battery solutions – use what you’ve already got (with adapters)
  • Records to Hard Drives and SSDs, including the option to use two disks in a RAID 0 array for increased speeds
  • Monitoring, including histograms, focus peaking, false color, blue only – just about anything a DP could hope for Audio Monitoring
  • In monitor play-back, with the ability to mark good and bad takes – start your edit early

The Not-So-Good of The Atomos Shogun:

  • Not cheap – $2,000, plus media!
  • Running audio into the recorder might introduce more need for cable wranglers during shoots.
  • Can it record Cinema DNG raw files over HDMI or only SGI?

Final Thoughts on The Atomos Shogun:

At NAB this year, Atomos representatives announced they were working with Sony during the development of the Atomos Shogun and the Sony A7s – so these two were just about made for each other! The A7s can output 4k over HDMI, and the Shogun records higher quality Prores then the camera can record internally.

Atomos has hit on a great market – accessible recorders and monitors, all in one. The Atomos Shogun is only their latest offering, but it is going to be a great addition to a cinematographer’s toolkit!

– –

Michael Head is a filmmaker and full-time geek living the the Dallas-Fort Worth Metromess. Follow him at @michaeldhead. Check in every Tuesday for Micheal’s “tech-Tuesday” articles. Check out his website at

Overview of Sony RX10

Have you heard about the 5K Sony Cybershot with video? According to Imaging Resource, the new RX10 can read all 5K data from it’s sensor in video mode. This is due to a new Bionz X processor. So the camera is shooting 5K video? (Exciting!)

Sony Cyber shot DSC RX10Well, let’s circle back around to that in a sec.

The camera has a fixed Zeiss zoom lens with 35mm zoom equivalent to a 24 to 200 zoom. That’s cool – until you add in the constant f/2.8 max aperture – a 2.8 throughout the zoom is awesome! Yeah, it’s fixed, but it’s still a Zeiss lens, which is a manufacturer known for quality. Add to this an advanced video auto focus and there is a lot of possibility in this camera.

Sony RX10 Has a One Inch Sensor

The one inch sensor is kind of a strange size in my opinion, but it’s a fixed lens so you don’t have to do any of that messy math stuff. Actually I’m kidding here – Sensor conversion isn’t as hard as it initially seems…

The camera can shoot up to 60 fps video, which gives you even some slow motion options if you need it.

The Good Features of the Sony RX10

  • Zeiss 24-200 f/2.8 constant aperture zoom lens.
  • Bionz X processor for full sensor utilization.
  • Continuous 10 FPS 20 MP stills.
  • Video auto focus.
  • Sony tends to have pretty good AVCHD implementation.
  • Accessory module with XLR audio inputs.

The Not-So-Good Features of the Sony RX10

  • Fixed lenses aren’t everyone’s cup of tea (but hey, it’s a Zeiss lens).
  • $1,300 is a lot for a fixed lens camera.
  • It still uses the AVCHD codec.

The Different

Let’s go back to the 5K thing. Does the RX10 shoot 5K video?

No. It doesn’t…

So where does the 5K come from?

For a second, let’s think about a few other cameras. If you’re familiar with the RED Epic, you might know that it shoots various resolutions by cropping in on the sensor, which affects the effective lens viewing angle. If you look at Canon DSLRs, however, pull 1080P images from their sensors by skipping some of the horizontal lines of the sensor. This can cause some issues such as moire, but that is part of what lead to the DSLR video revolution.

Sony_RX10_BackWhat does this mean for the RX10? It can read the full 5,000 (ish) lines of resolution – so it shoots in 5K, right? Well, yes and no. It does use the entire sensor in video mode, which means there is no line skipping or cropping on the image. However, it takes the full 5K sensor data and uses it to output 1080P video.

This means you’re still only getting 1080P video ( and I can’t believe I’m saying “only” 1080P – most movie theaters project at 2K, which is only slightly larger then a 1920x1080p HD video), but it will be some great looking 1080P video that should avoid some image quality issues that can affect DSLR video.

Final Thoughts on the The Sony RX10 – 5K

It’s pretty cool. If you are looking to move into DSLR-style video shooting, this is a pretty good looking and reasonably priced video-capable camera. Sample images have shown that great resolution in the video images. Professional audio inputs available are also a plus for the normally dual-system DSLR shooting setup, and this saves a step in post. Find out more about the Sony RX10 here.

Keep Shootin!