Distorted Sound Driving Me Nuts!

Another short rant. About sound quality. My recent preoccupations have been HDR and anamorphic lenses. During the course of watching dozens and dozens of webinars, listening to podcasts and watching sample footage, I noticed that they all have one thing in common – horrible, clipped, distorted and at times unlistenable audio. Crackling sounds when they speak. Dropouts. And many of the videos I’m talking about are produced by directors and professionals in the AV industry. You’d think they’d know how to adjust levels. But you’d be dead wrong. So it was refreshing to actually be able to sit through a video by Luke Neumann that has beautiful sounding audio without any of that nonsense.

As an aside, as much as I’d also like to be the next David Mamet or Aaron Sorkin or whoever, writing brilliant screenplays and producing dazzling short films, I don’t get people who belittle those who enjoy vlogging. I grew up listening to talk radio, it was thought-provoking and engaging – and even though I don’t see a ton of content on YouTube that could be remotely characterized as provocative, I think that can be attributed as much to the audience as to the vloggers themselves.

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Atlas Orion 65mm T2 Anamorphic + GH5 at Cine Gear 2017

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It’s been suggested that rather than spend my entire life savings on one anamorphic lens, that I should either get a Canon 5D3 or BMMCC and shoot RAW or pick up a true cinema camera like the BMCC, Ursa Mini Pro, the Canon C200 or an EVA1; or (gasp!) even try shooting Nikon, Sony or Olympus. I’ve been told that folks would be more interested in seeing comparisons of the Veydra lenses on the JVC LS300 or Olympus, or even one of the Voigtlanders paired with an SLR Magic Anamorphic. Blogging or vlogging about a $7,500 lens on an $1,800 body simply won’t interest anyone.

First and foremost, while I value my small audience, I shoot video and blog for my own personal enjoyment; if readers are interested in following my journey, they’re welcome to tune in. I’m happy to say that since being able to devote more time to my blog last year, I’ve managed to triple my readership without having to resort to endorsing products or catering to the lowest common denominator – click bait. Secondly, buying and selling off equipment every few months is costly, and I don’t receive samples from manufacturers – I purchase everything I test with my own money. Finally, as anyone who’s been following my chronicles is aware of, I firmly believe that buying lenses is a much wiser investment than replacing camera bodies every couple of years.

As far as abandoning the GH5 goes, that’s completely out of the question: the ability to shoot HLG high dynamic range video and internal 10-bit, combined with outstanding in body stabilization and focus peaking (critical for shooting 4K in flat profiles), all topped off with a small sensor that is ideal for anamorphic shooting, along with anamorphic desqueeze,  4K 60p, ETC mode (which effectively doubles the focal length of any lens) and full HDMI out make purchasing a Canon, Nikon, Sony , Olympus or BMPCC seem like a huge step backward. And even though I agree that it’s possible to get something like Panasonic’s wonderful EVA 1 for the cost of one Atlas Orion 65mm T2, for example, the combined cost  together with a GH5 is still one third the price of a new anamorphic cine lens!

I should add that, just like the Sigma ART lenses in my collection, as well as the Veydras (which, you may recall, are compatible not only with MFT, but can also be used with Fuji X-mount, C mount and Sony E mount), the Atlas anamorphics will be compatible with any camera I decide to purchase in the future, be it Canon, Kinefinity, BMD, or whatever. Thinking only in terms of your present camera is shortsighted, as many filmmakers eventually upgrade from crop sensor to S35 or even full frame. As far as the various diabolical formulas that would limit the price of lenses to one-third that of the camera body, a set of G Master zooms can easily surpass the going rate for a used Sony a7s severalfold. Another thing to keep in mind is that the GH5 sensor can out-resolve most lenses on the market today, and if I were filthy rich (instead of just wealthy 😂), I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a full set of Cookes or Compact Primes. But I’m not looking to replace my entire kit, I just want to be able to mix some anamorphic in with my spherical stuff.

To sum up:

Advantages of purchasing the Atlas Orion: one-stop solution, impeccable build and image quality.

Disadvantages: supremely heavy; will have to sell one of my kidneys.