Description image

Pocket Guides to Almost Every Filmmaking Camera Imaginable (Seriously)

10.15.12 @ 5:21PM Tags : , , ,

Nobody really wants to carry around camera manuals (at least I hope not), and if you’re frequently using different cameras, it can help to have a lot of the basic information about the camera handy. That’s why Evan Luzi, who runs a fantastically practical site about being a top-notch camera assistant called The Black and Blue (and even wrote a guest post for us), has put together a total of 20 pocket guides for basically every major filmmaking camera in use right now — from the Canon 7D all the way to the RED EPIC and Arri Alexa.

Here is a visual representation of all of the guides he’s offering:

This is what Evan had to say about the guides:

The pocket guides have been completely redesigned to provide a more consistent experience from guide-to-guide. That means they’re faster and easier to navigate in the chaos of a shoot…When you download the pocket guides, you are automatically signed-up to receive free updates. So if a camera’s newly released firmware changes any of the material on the guide, you’ll be alerted as soon as you can download a fresh copy of the pocket guide. And if a new pocket guide is added, you’ll be given instant access to that, too. (At anytime you can unsubscribe from these updates and your info won’t be sold or used for any purpose besides letting you know when a new pocket guide is available.)

Evan is offering these guides on a pay-what-you-want basis, so you can give as little as nothing (which we don’t recommend), or as much as $1 billion (which would probably make Evan very happy). The recommended donation is $20, which comes out to $1 per guide. If you’ve ever visited Evan’s site before, you know how unbelievably valuable his on-set information is, so a donation just for that content is certainly in order. The guides are really fantastic, and the best part about them — in my opinion — is that they aren’t written by an engineer, but by someone who spends most of his working hours on a set where speed and accuracy are critical. I know I’ve found myself in situations where it took valuable time to find a specific piece of information about a camera, so having a pocket guide would have been incredibly helpful.

Head on over to Evan’s site using the link below to learn more about the guides and download them for your own use.

Link: Digital Cinema Pocket Guides — The Black and Blue


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 30 COMMENTS

  • Very helpful and a smart idea! I’ll be keeping copies on my phone, iPad and laptop. I also like the format for 1 page printing too, I’ll probably keep a guide for each in the appropriate camera bag.

  • john jeffreys on 10.15.12 @ 6:08PM

    Paying for information that can be easily gathered online and arranged by yourself in your own document. LOL

    • Heh heh heh. Naive John is naive.

      • Evan I’m a big fan of yours FWIW! =) Thanks so much for these, and the rest of your sharing.

      • john jeffreys on 10.15.12 @ 6:43PM

        first of all im a big fan and regular reader of your website. i just feel that in a post-internet world where any and all kinds of data are freely available via a google search, charging for said information is a tad, i dunno, old fashioned. Maybe if you printed these out and sold them laminated and fancy, that would be cool.

        • you can always find your information for free as you can always file your taxes yourself for free, in the end is how much you want to pay to have information already chewed for you, 10 bucks seems a good deal in this case.

        • Thanks for being a reader, John, I truly appreciate it. And I respect your feedback, but the reason why I said you were “naive” is because I think you are underestimating the value of all this information in one place and the time it takes to put it together. I mean, have you ever read through a 90-page Sony camera manual and tried to distill it onto one page?

          It’s true the information is freely available, but that doesn’t mean all of it is easy to find. Several of the pocket guides are compiled from multiple sources. Some of them contain info that is difficult to find unless you have access to the camera (i.e. Phantom Miro, which doesn’t have a manual published yet). Most of them have custom charts from formulas I use to figure out data rates. You could find those data rate formulas online, but then you’d have to calculate each instance of compression, frame-rate, and storage to get the same info that’s on the pocket guides.

          Even if you do gather all the info, you have to present it in a way that’s functional for use on a set. For purposes of presentation, I tack on a nice design, but I also think that the aesthetics improve readability and thus efficiency.

          I’m not saying you’re wrong about being able to find the data and make a similar thing like these yourself, but I don’t think it’s practical for most people. Trust me, I did it for 20 different cameras.

          Finally, you mention paying for the info is “LOL” worthy and that charging for it is “old fashioned,” but the pocket guides are released under a pay-what-you-want scheme. If you don’t see any value in them, then don’t pay for them.

          • Absolutely agree with you. I think many people confuse “freely available” with “worth nothing”. Sure, all that information’s out there, but if you think about how much you’re worth professionally per hour, it costs a helluva lot more than $1 per camera to collate it all in a useful way…

          • Purchased. Skeptical I’ll ever use it, but appreciate the work that’s gone into it. Thanks Evan!

        • It’s like you never stop and think, John – what if you’re in a place that doesn’t have service available, or you’re just simply trying to get up and running quickly and without trying to sift through information? You tend to criticize everyone else’s hard work, but none of us have seen the culmination of your cinema life. Please, show us.

    • JJ, it’s about valuing your time appropriately.
      I considered the time it would take me to compile and arrange this information in the way Evan has, and decided it was more cost effective to to pay him his very fair price of *anything* and voila, I just put it on the devices I want it on.

    • Yet another classic JJ post.. Critical, egotistical, and not very useful.

  • timeoutofmind on 10.15.12 @ 7:05PM

    sell them a la carte. i don’t have, nor do i see acquiring anytime soon, a phantom miro.

    • Doesn’t the pay-what-you-want factor eliminate the need to sell a-la-carte? Just pay for the ones you will actually use.

  • Already have my set purchased and synced through my dropbox. Thanks a bunch Evan for putting in all the time and effort that you did to make these little guys happen. They’re really well made Nd I’m sure give a lot of first time users more confidence when heading into a production. That way they can skip the nerves and go about making a film!

    Keep up all the great work.

    • Thanks Raymond! And thanks for downloading them. Like you said, great for first time users, but also good for vets who need a quick reference or the security of that reference as backup.

      • Vashi Nedomansky on 10.15.12 @ 9:55PM

        Evan…Thanks for providing this great resource all in one spot. So convenient and now shared across my platforms in dropbox. Upcoming gig with C300, RED, and 5D will have benefit of accurate references shared amongst the crew.

  • no manual for gh2?

  • Thanks a lot for guides Evan ”
    Great job ‘

  • Roberto Conte on 10.16.12 @ 12:47PM

    Anything for Nikon D800?
    So sad!
    Anyway, good job.

  • No GH2. Really?

  • I would pay for this in an instant if the GH2 was included. One of the very best cameras for DSLR filmmaking…shame it’s not in here.

  • These are simply amazing Evan. It’s odd anyone would even question their value. I’d love to have you on my show to talk about them. Great job.

  • Worst $7 I’ve ever spent. These are just 10 tiny pages (mobile version) that lists some of the specs & functions of the cameras. That’s it. There is no description of said functions, no guidance to how to use them, etc.

    You want to be able to pull out your phone and look up the actual sensor size in pixels while you are arguing with someone at a dinner party? Perfect!

    Looking for some help or guidance in learning the various functions/features of these cameras or where to set/change them? Move on.

    These are mini spec sheets. Not guides.

    The list of specs is different for each camera as well. The F3 doc shows you the video output options, but you get no menu options. The C300 has menu options, but no video options. So the information presented isn’t standard across the docs either.

    It’s not the author’s fault, I guess I just jumped to my own conclusion on what “guides” meant, but revisiting the website now, it doesn’t really go into enough detail about the information you’re getting. They are nicely designed and laid out. I am sure they are of value to some, just not me.

    Oh well, it was only $7.

    • Hey Sean — This is the author here. I’d be happy to refund you your “worst $7 ever spent” (really? haha) per the promise I make on the website. Just let me know via the contact form on the site what your paypal email is and I can get your $7 back to you by today.

      In regards to your feedback, these guides aren’t meant as a substitute for a manual. They are meant to supplement knowledge of the camera and to be a pocket reference guide. I made them mostly for myself as a camera assistant for those times when a DP might ask me what the false color overlays mean and I can show them. Or when I need to know how much time I have left on a 128 gig SSD shooting at 4:1 RC, 3K HD.

      I like to think they are more than just spec sheets considering they collate a bunch of different info.

      Finally, the reason each guide has different sections is because each camera is different. Rather than try to force the same information for each camera, I approached them wondering “If I was using the camera, what are the top things I would want for reference?” In some cases, that includes menu options. In others, like where the menu is more intuitive, it doesn’t.

      So that’s the reasoning. Though I appreciate your feedback and I’ll make sure to consider it when I do another update.

      Again, let me know if you’d like a refund and I apologize that you were disappointed by the pocket guides.

  • Sorry Evan, my “worst $7 ever” was more tongue in cheek. Of all the money I spend on toys/products/etc for my love of filmmaking, I just jumped without looking. Then when I did go back and look, I thought there description of what I was getting a little lacking.

    I do see how these could be of use to some people, I just really think standardized info is of more value since you know what you’ve got for every camera. You’ve made sure to include the recording time and battery time for each, which is perfect, I just think there should be more info, in similar format. I thought there would be more than 7 pages (minus the covers/copyright info pages)

    I don’t have a problem with the price either, they are priced right. I don’t want my $7 back. I completely support you and anyone else out there trying to make products to make our lives better. In the end, it’s only $7 and from the comments above, they are obviously making many people happy. Don’t apologize for “my” disappointment, you can’t make everyone happy ;)

    and thank you for taking the time to reply

  • I Really need the Guide and Tips for a Canon XL1.
    ~Thanks guys.