In the last few years there has been a massive surge in retro-styled cameras. Fuji and Olympus lead the way with their micro 4/3 camera lines, but even Nikon has jumped in with both feet releasing the Nikon FD. On the video front, retro-styling of camera gear has been slower but still on the rise with cameras like the Black Magic cinema, and the digital Bolex. One recent entry into the fray is the new Chinon Bellami HD-1 Super 8.
The Bellami, was Inspired by the 8mm film camera of the same name from the 1970s. The shape, control systems, ergonomics, weight, optics placement and more mirror the original.
The Bellami HD-1Digital Super 8 shoots full HD, 1080p at 30fps. The frame rate might put off some who swear 24fps is the only way to shoot. Frankly I’m not one of them. I think the whole 24fps vs 30fps needs to be put to bed. It’s a Mac vs Windows argument. The thing is, this camera isn’t designed to be a workhorse. It’s a retro-styled camera with digital capabilities. The look is designed to appeal to the nostalgic, not compete with a Canon C300.
What the Bellami does offer is a screw on lens mount that let’s you slap a ton of full manual lenses on the front. It shoots RAW DNG files which allow the cinematographer to tweak the footage in post to create a stylized vintage look by creatively tweaking color balance, temperature, and exposure.
The Chinon Bellami HD-1 is available for about $850 USD depending on exchange rates with the Yen. Currently available only in Japan, it can be bought online if you’re willing to pay for shipping.
Over the last year I have been doing a little experiment using mixed video and audio sources in a series of small video productions. No commercial projects just a series of personal projects to test workflow, camera comparisons, and end results. The video below was shot a couple of weeks back at the Great Midwest Balloon festival on a Canon 5D MkII, and Olympus OMD EM-1, an iPhone 4s, and 5. All the footage was imported directly into Adobe Premier, with video stabilizing, and color correction being handled by After Effects.
What I was looking for was could I spot the difference between cameras, and how would the Adobe workflow handle the differing camera footage when they were mixed. I have to say, once again I am pretty impressed with the way things turned out. The OMD did a great job, and it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the footage it produced from the 5D. Even the iPhone footage when color balanced and graded in After Effects looks pretty impressive, and blends in just fine with that from the larger cameras. It’s pretty amazing just how much things have changed form a shooting and editing perspective in just the last few years. I never would have tried this five years ago.
For anyone that might have been living on a deserted island or under a rock for the last few years, GoPro is the tiny camera that introduced the world to point of view action video. If you don’t know the name, I guarantee you’ve seen footage shot on this camera.
To introduce the new GoPro HERO3, they have put together a pretty spectacular 5 minute short featuring footage shot on the new unit. I don’t own a GoPro, but I want this one for sure. Now I just need to take up skydiving, surfing, skiing, mountain biking, skatebording, roller blading, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, alligator wrestling and a variety of other death defying sports.
A couple of Sunday’s back my friend Tim and I took his Canon 5D MkII and my Olympus OMD EM-5 to Kansas City’s Greaserama hot rod show that takes place every memorial day weekend at the Boulevard Drive-In. Aside from shooting video of some pretty amazing rat rods, hot rods, and vintage bikes, we wanted to do another comparison between the cameras.
The video below was shot all hand held with no steady rigs, or other camera mounts. Like the video from the Kauffman Preorming Arts Center, this is a mix of footage from both cameras. The 5D was stabilized with Adobe After Effects using the Warp Stabilizer. The Olympus used the 5 axis image stabilization built into it with just a few of those clips getting the Warp Stabilizer.
There are a couple of things that bug me about some of the Olympus footage. When the camera is not in manual focus mode, it tends to shift focus when tracking a moving object. The shift is subtle but there on some of the clips. Overall though, I think the OMD EM-5 holds it’s own with the 5D MkII, and beats it for in camera image stabilization.