Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Second Annual "Stills & Video Pro Surfing Showdown!" 9SHOOTER Canon / Nikon / Sony vs RED EPIC / RED SCARLET photographic stills & video showdown challenge!

Time to assess the best methods for shooting stills & video @ the same time that win not just amongst the forum fanboyz, but in real life!  Join us at The Second Annual "Simultaneous Stills & Video Pro Surfing Showdown!" 9SHOOTER Canon / Nikon / Sony vs RED EPIC / RED SCARLET photographic stills & video showdown challenge!  Bring all your ideas, concepts, and rigs!

The 9SHOOTER at the 2011 Hurley Pro in San Clemente @ Trestles Beach. Again no RED EPIC in sight. Perhaps they'll show up for the showdown this year? Speaking of showdowns, two quotes from my favorite Clint Eastwood film come to mind: "A man's gotta know his limitations," and, "When the man with a 45 meets the man with a rifle, you said the man with a pistol is a dead man. Let's see if it's true." -The Man With No Name in Fistful of Dollars :)
  Bikini Swimsuit Model Goddess
The 9SHOOTERTM hereby challenges the RED EPIC / SCARLET community to see who can capture the best video and stills at a pro surfing event in Southern California. We can meet up at either the 2012 Hurley Pro in San Clemente in September or the 2012 Nike US Open in Huntington Beach in July. Hopefully EPIC will do better than last year, when they didn't even show. (

The basic rules will be as follows:

1) One-on-one. The 9shooter operator and RED operator (preferably Jim Jannard) must carry all their equipment onto the beach by themselves and operate it by themselves.
2) All photographs and video must be finished by the operator.
3) Points will be given for stills, video, and overall cost of equipment including batteries/memory cards/lenses/etc. (the exact breakdown & criterion/weighting will be discussed--feel free to comment with suggestions!)

Regarding shooting stills & video at the same time with the 9shooter, Philip Bloom tweeted, "this is for did make me chuckle!"

As these are 4-7+ day events with some 10-12 hour days of surfing, from sunup to sundown, the equipment will have to be quite durable in the hot sun!  Quite a few memory cards/SSD drives will be needed, and all this will be factored into the total cost! 

Well, I would love to challenge Philip (or any RED operator) to a showdown consisting of shooting stills & video at a surfing championship in California this summer!  I'll be shooting with a Canon D1X or Nikon D4, with a camcorder (with image stabilization superior to the RED's) attached to the 9shooter system. You can see some basic pictures of the 9shooter setup here:

I may elect to use the new Sony NEX-FS700U which will cost under $10,000 (B&H has it for $7,999), while offering 4K video as well and super slow-mo! CNET reports:
The camera can shoot slow-motion video at 5X and 10X speeds at 1080p resolution with 120fps and 240fps modes and 20X and 40X speeds at lower resolution with 480fps and 960fps modes, Sony said ahead of the National Association of Broadcasters conference that begins April 14.
Even if I shoot with the new SONY with an awesome Zeiss zoom lens and the Nikon D4 with an awesome Nikkor zoom, the setup with memory cards and batteries will still be about 1/4 the cost of the RED EPIC setup, while allowing for superior stills and video, and also being smaller, lighter, and nimbler. The 9SHOOTER also offers greater redundancy with two cameras, one of which has dual card slots. All in all, it ought make Philip Bloom not only chuckle, but roll around on the beach, roaring with laughter!

Or, I could go with the $15,000 Canon EOS-1D C or $30,000 C500 4K Cinema camera, and still fly in way under the cost of the RED EPIC setup, even while adding a Nikon D4 or Canon DX1 to the 9SHOOTER system. 

Doug Mills of the NYT should feel free to join us too with his two camera setup!

So come on out with your RED EPICs for the showdown in 2012! Feel free to email me @!

Video & stills shot @ same time with 9shooter beats NYT's method.
Check out some videos & stills of Kelly Slater shot with the 9shooter.

Model modeling 9shooter & shot with 9shooter. (Video & stills shot @ same time with 9shooter beats NYT's method.)

10-time world surfing champ Kelly Slater shot with 9shooter in S-mount configuration.
Read the 9shooter video & stills/Kelly Slater story here!

The RED EPIC used by Kevin Arnold cost $65,000 and took a crew of three people to operate, and the stills still weren't as good as those from a Nikon D800/D4 or Canon 5D Mark III/D1X.   For shooting action shots of skiers, you're going to want to look at shutter speeds approaching 1/1000 of a second, which the RED EPIC doesn't get close to while being used for shooting quality video.

I could go the all-Sony route with the 9SHOOTER, using a Sony A77 for stills (taking advantage of the mirrorless 12 fps!) in conjunction with a Sony NEX-FS100 for video.  Or I could use a Nikon D4 for stills while using the  Sony NEX-FS100 for video, or the Panasonic HDC-TM900K 3D Camcorder with 32GB Internal Flash Memory, which I am currently using for video.  It's an awesome camera with a large Leica lens!  No matter which way I go, the price of the 9shooter setup will be less than 1/4 the price of the RED EPIC setup, and it may even be as low as 1/8th the cost!  How's that for saving $50,000+ while getting equal or better quality video and stills, while also carrying more redundancy into the shoot!

Nikon D800 Photos of Swimsuit Bikini Model Goddess in Malibu Sea Cave
                                    Photographic still pulled from a 9SHOOTER.


In addition to its far greater cost, lack of image stabilization, more primitive AF,  cornucopia of hidden costs, bugginess/unreliability, heavier weight, and general unwieldiness of the RED EPIC when compared to the 9SHOOTER system, it also has another glaring shortcoming.  A major bottleneck and limiting factor in the RED EPIC's simultaneous capture of photographic stills and video is that stills and video oft must be shot with different shutter speeds for optimum quality.  For instance, in shooting atheletic events such as football, soccer, surfing, or tennis, or NASCAR, or artistic events such as ballet or figure-skating, shutter speeds are oft kept around 1/1000 s.  On the other hand, video usually utilizes shutter speeds closer to 1/60 s or 1/120 s--about a factor of ten difference, or, as we say in physics, an order of magnitude difference!  Although the RED EPIC is said to have shutter speeds as fast as 1/2000 s, does anyone use such fast shutter speeds to shoot high-quality video for film or TV?  Nobody that we've heard of!  

As Kevin Arnold states at aphotoeditor:
The bigger challenge – especially when shooting fast moving lifestyle or sports action – is achieving fast shutter speeds. The great majority of the frames we shot were soft due to either camera movement, or subject motion blur. This is the single biggest issue with pulling stills from video. The fact is that video looks best when shot with a shutter angle of 180 degrees, or double the frame rate. Shooting at 120 frames per second, means you’re really limited to about 1/250 of a second– not nearly fast enough to achieve 100 percent sharpness on every frame. In theory, you can crank up the shutter speed on the EPIC to freeze motion, but the video will suffer as a result. Moreover, motion blur is actually what makes video look smooth and pleasing to watch.
One way around this for the RED EPIC would be to use two cameras--one RED EPIC for stills with a fast shutter speed, and a second RED EPIC for video with a slower shutter speed.  I'd be happy to sell Jim Jannard a 9SHOOTER bracket so he could rock it! :)  But then one might need four RED EPICS (with two backups), as Philip Bloom writes:

  So why don’t I have it (the RED EPIC) anymore?Well it comes down to a number of things…numbers 1 and 3 being the major ones, 2 being the irritant…1: I was no longer comfortable with using the camera on paid jobs. I had the camera back but they could not find the fault, they did a full rebuild, but it would mean I would never know what the issues were and if they really had been fixed. I have never shot with a camera where I was so unsure of it to the point if I took it on a job would it work?I had some incredibly unhelpful remarks from people (not RED) saying it was my fault for going on a paid job with no second EPIC as a backup. I am sorry but I am not rich. I can only afford one (barely as I had planned to pay it off over the next year) and if I went to client explaining what that extra £1000 per day on my quote was for (an extra rented EPIC as mine was unreliable) that would simply not wash with them. --

Photos of the Nikon D800 in the field!

Here're the video and stills we caught with the < $3,500 9-shooter system (pictured below) consisting of a Canon T3i, a 150-500mm Sigma Zoom zoomed out at 500mm, a Panasonic HDC-TM900K zoomed out fully to 20x and shooting full-HD at 1080 60p, and a sturdy Manfroto monopod:
9shooter slow-mo video shot at full 1080 HD @ 60p:

9shooter stills--you can see the video shot alongside the below still towards the end of the video above: 

In the below picture courtesy of & Checkwood, you can see me standing on the shore, about the fifth from left, in my red surf shorts and black 45surf t-shirt, wielding a 9shooter. What you can't see is a Red Epic, and had there been one out there, would they have been able to maneuver it to the water's edge, to get it in front of the spectators when they stormed the beach for the final heats?

2011 Nike US Open Of Surfing Champion Kelly Slater. Photo: Checkwood

Our $3,500 9shooter system: a Canon T3i, a 150-500mm Sigma Zoom zoomed out at 500mm, a Panasonic HDC-TM900K zoomed out fully to 20x and shooting full-HD at 1080 60p, a sturdy Manfroto monopod, and plenty of 32 GIG SD cards & batteries:

Vincent Laforet & his RED EPIC rig, writing, "Some of you will ask:  "Is this a GAME CHANGER?"" didn't see one of these Red Epics by the Huntington Beach pier last week!) Vincent Laforet's above rig costs, in his words, "Right now the RED Epic is a $30,000+ camera that is far from accessible to most due to its price. ($58K with all of the accessories for the hand-machined "M" series – the factory made "X" series will be almost 1/3 cheaper.)."

Well, expect the 9shooter to become more and more powerful in the coming years, as Canon and Panasonic release 2k/3k/4k/5k camcorders and DSLRS, surfing Moore's Law on towards victory! Surf's up dudes! Join the fun in 9shooting the waves!

HD slow-mo video shot at the same time as stills via the 9shooter

RED will be eclipsed by Canon, just like Sun computers was eclipsed by PCs, as Moore's Law tends to favor companies aiming up, rather than companies aiming downwards.


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