December 19, 2016
year-in-review

The Worst Tech Letdowns of 2016

Here are the biggest gear disappointments of the year according to our writers and commenters.

Every year, we get our hopes up for the next wave of technological toys that will make it easier and faster to tell our stories, and some of them don't quite meet expectations. See examples A, B, C and D below.

Craft Camera

Craft CameraCredit: Craft

When the Craft camera was announced, it offered a lot of amazing features at a spectacular price. However, instead of going for the crowdfunding path (like the successfully financed Chronos), Craft choose instead to take deposits for a promised ship date of 2016. As the end of December 2016 approaches, we haven't seen any Craft cameras out in the field or heard from any owners receiving their cameras, which is a disappointment.

RED went through a similar process nearly a decade ago with its initial launch, using an announcement for an amazing camera at a crazy price point and a small deposit to get in line to own one. RED, too, missed all of its initial shipping deadlines, but eventually shipped a camera that dramatically changed the industry. Fingers crossed that Craft will do the same, and ship in the near future with performance that makes us forget about missed deadlines, but for now we're definitely let down.

GoPro Karma

GoPro KarmaCredit: GoPro

Karma drones keep falling from the sky. It might seem like we're stuck on this story, and it probably gets mentioned every week on the Indie Film Weekly podcast, but it is indeed big news. Drones falling from the sky could really injure someone, and a reputable company like GoPro making a drone that falls from the sky is a shocker. While there have always been hiccups with drones, it's often with a DIY kit or a smaller brand, and the bigger drone brands like DJI and Yuneec make very reliable flyers that you can trust to be safe if safely operated. A mainstream brand like GoPro making a drone is going to put that aircraft in the hands of a much wider swath of the public, and it has to do everything possible to ensure safe operation, which it failed to do.  

In its defense, after initially trying to hide the announcement in the election news cycle by announcing the recall at 6pm on election day, GoPro has gotten its act together and managed the recall well, with everyone who purchased a Karma drone getting a free Hero5 in exchange, which is pretty cool. We're still just glad no one was injured.

Macbook Pro 

Apple Macbook ProCredit: Apple

Some called it dongle-gate. Others called it the "bad-touch bar." Apple had to discount the dongles, and marketing VP Phil Schiller had to make a statement on the reasons for the RAM being limited to 16GB. Apple product launches have always had some controversy (Where did the disc drive go? Where did the floppy drive go?) but eventually the product was strong enough to overcome the criticism and find its place in the world.

While the full NFS review will be out later this week, the first impression of most users hasn't been strong enough to overcome the drawbacks, and even longtime Apple diehards found themselves disappointed. For many tasks, the computer is not faster, and for some it's even slower than the previous generation. Digilloyd returned his, but did make it clear that it was a tough call and the new model will work well for many; it just doesn't fit his needs. There are a few places where it really excels, but for many the jury remains out on whether the upgrade is worth the price. Which, for a new Macbook Pro, which used to be an item worth the immediate upgrade no matter what, is a major disappointment. 

Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5D Mark IVCredit: Canon

First love is hard to get over, and can linger on for years after you think you've moved on. While there wasn't any reason to expect that Canon was going to make the 5D we want, there was still hope, and when it was released, longtime fans were majorly disappointed. 4K via crop, mJPEG codec, limited bandwidth files—overall it felt like video was still an afterthought and that the 5D was primarily meant to be a great stills camera. Which we always knew, of course—even in the Mark II video was an afterthought—but we were so hungry for beautiful video images we ate it up and bought the camera in droves.

After that magic period with the Mark II, when the whole DSLR revolution (and this website along with it) exploded, Canon moved on to the C line (pricier than the 5D), and we indie folk moved on to Sony A7 and Panasonic GH and others. But, in our hearts, we hoped that with the Mark IV Canon would let us know they were still thinking about us the way we were thinking about them. It turns out that they aren't.  But that's OK. We've got better cameras to play with now. Still, we'll always think fondly of that summer with the Mark II, way back when.

What about you? What were your best/worst gear fails this year?


See all of our 2016 Year-in-Review coverage.

Your Comment

43 Comments

Canon really broke our heart.... u r very right about the first love quote.... I still love Canon, it is my first love. D color of canon is something I jst really love... but well, we have to move on. I jst hope they wake up from their sleep eventually. I still love canon but they are faaaaaar behind #crying

December 19, 2016 at 12:55PM, Edited December 19, 12:56PM

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Afolayan Dammy
Director/Cinematographer/Editor
82

How was the 5d4 a "tech" letdown it fulfills its purpose arguably better than any other camera in the world. Its a photography camera and takes amazing pictures, this is article is called "TECH DISAPPOINTMENTS" not video disappointments. Canon yet again released another amazing camera. That doesn't mean im going to buy it , its ridiculously prices and a sony is so much better for my work "VIDEO". continuing on the new macbook is F***ing amazing, Why not do a post on best indie films of this year or best tech this year ( which the 5d4 and new macbook should be on) instead of giving as a pointless list of disappointments (WHICH HALF OF ARE WRONG in my opinion)

December 19, 2016 at 1:17PM, Edited December 19, 1:17PM

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Hey Kieran, we did do a best cameras post, and have "best of" posts on the way in almost every category: lighting & grip, drones, indie films, cinematography, docs, etc. so stay tuned! http://nofilmschool.com/2016/12/best-cameras-and-lenses-2016

December 19, 2016 at 2:26PM

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Liz Nord
Editor-in-Chief & Lead Producer
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

Craft Cameras:

Try to cash on the hype generated by the Apertus Axiom and to my opinion decided to "close source" the open sourceness of the project. Maybe they realized they couldn't cash onto somebody else's research and now they are stuck with a bunch of empty promises?

Apple:

Had a point to exist since 2010. Now it's just an expensive toymaker. Sorry to say that, but financially and logically having a Mac does not make sense. It's a bitching status symbol working with a Mac or simply because It's hard to switch after working on one ecosystem for so long one can argue the """superiority""" of macs. Custom made PC do it better. Faster. Cheaper. There's no difference editing on FCPX, resolve or premiere. Too bad the majority of creatives don't have enough brains to understand how a computer works or the willingness to jump platform. (I believe the stereotypical definition of intelligence is an optional when it comes down to creative work)

GoPro Karma:

Sounds like the typical case of a rushed product just so to stay on par with the competition if you ask me.. Market strategy I never understood.. What's the point of rushing something out if then everybody is gonna complain about it? Oh, I forgot.. Profits.. Although, genocides are committed in the good name of money therefore I guess it's only far (I hope you can read the sarcasm between the lines).

Canon:

Started as camera makers, nowadays I bet their top selling Item it's a printer..
I don't see the reason for canon to produce another DSLR that can potentially take some of the market away from their C line. Since rumors of the 5D4 cam out I knew it was a lemon. Why would canon implement any of the work that the guys at magic lantern have been doing? If anything, they probably are playing into this.

I guess this sums up pretty well my opinion on this article.

December 19, 2016 at 1:19PM

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Luc Beloix
Director Of Photography
124

yeah you say creatives don't have the brains but you say theres no diffrenece to editing systems and the speed of fcpx on a mac its common sense apple software + apple hardware integrate better = faster, look it up.

December 19, 2016 at 2:15PM

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If you know how to do your job you can be fast on any machine and any software appropriately chosen for the job. The increase of performance that you might have with a seamless software/hardware integration can achieved easily on a custom made machine. The difference in price between Mac and PC will never justify enough the difference in performance.

December 19, 2016 at 5:17PM

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Luc Beloix
Director Of Photography
124

You're actually missing the point here.. There are tests many have done on export times / renders with the same hardware specs, Premiere versus FCPX on a Mac and then Premiere on Windows versus FCPX.

I cut with both, however for solo workflows I prefer FCPX, especially on my laptop, for a list of reasons I don't care to type out.

To each his own, cheers.

December 20, 2016 at 2:30PM

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Tyler McCool
One Man Show
310

I don't know why anyone would choose a macbook + fcpx over any custom built pc + premiere. For a start fcpx is just terrible, especially when compared with premiere or avid or whatever really. Second, for the same cost as a macbook pro I could get a machine with double or triple the memory/power/cpu/whatever - it's a no brainer!

December 20, 2016 at 8:59AM

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connor
20

fcpx is not "terrible" when compared to premiere or avid or whatever. Have you ever used fcpx to edit an entire project to completion? No, you have not. If you had you would not make such an uneducated stupid statement. Sheep.

December 20, 2016 at 5:34PM, Edited December 20, 5:35PM

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James Manson
Photographer
48

Edius users be sittin' back askin',.. "Why are they arguing about those slow NLE's?"

January 3, 2017 at 1:18AM

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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
157

I can't agree with you more about the Apple/PC, FCP/PPr issue. Build your own machine, make it a beast, and use whatever damn software gets the job done. Need a laptop? Grab a gaming laptop with a built-in Nvidia 1070 or 1080 and again, use whatever software you want that meets your needs. You schlepp around pelican cases full of heavy gear, so what's another pound or two on your laptop? Oh, and you'll have enough money leftover to fly to Europe and shoot b-roll for a whole weekend.

December 19, 2016 at 2:52PM

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Corey Crago
Producer
83

Agreed. Preach it man! :D Bottom line: Apple fangirls will be always butthurt because nowadays the argument that: "apple is better" simply is Not existent. Honestly, I was superclose to getting a MacBook in 2010.. I am so glad I didn't.

December 19, 2016 at 5:20PM

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Luc Beloix
Director Of Photography
124

Well I am not a big fanboy, have owned a few, but the late 2013 Pro's are good machines. But a lot of the cheaper PC laptops have a AMD processor in them, and because of that can't put OIS on them. Has to be Intel processor to do it.

December 19, 2016 at 11:29PM

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I've been saying this for years--because it's been true for years-- but it took Apple failing hard with its new MacBook Pro for people to pull their collective heads out of Apple's *** and look around. You wouldn't believe the amount of **** I received for simply pointing out how much more power/speed you can get (in almost every component) with a PC box or a PC laptop.

December 23, 2016 at 4:18PM

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RE Apple: I have friends who have had 4 PCs die in the time I had one mac, so there's something to be said for build quality and reliability.

December 19, 2016 at 3:32PM

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Pat Heine
Producer.
329

No PC ha sever died on ME EVER. If you know how to look after your machine it will last for decades

December 19, 2016 at 5:14PM

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Luc Beloix
Director Of Photography
124

I agree with this. I still have a 17" Macbook Pro from 2011 and it continues to work just as well as when I first got it. So many of my friends' Windows laptops eat shit early, including my girlfriend's.

But Apple has definitely been left in the dust with their hardware. With every new machine they release, and every professional request they ignore, I grow angrier and angrier with them. But I have to say, one sentiment I am not seeing expressed in these comments is that yeah, you can build a bad ass PC that kicks the crap out of any Mac (that's almost ALWAYS been the case) but you're still stuck using Windows. And THAT's why I continue to use a Mac as my primary machine. Not because of the hardware but because of the OS. I have both Mac and Windows machines. I have a Windows 10 machine. I don't like it. I like the Mac OS much better, plain and simple. That's not the case for everyone, but it is for me. The smartest thing Jobs ever did was bring Unix and OS X to the Mac. If Macs weren't running OS X, I'd have left a long time ago. Windows has gotten much closer to the Mac OS over the past few years in terms of GUI refinements. They're closer than they have ever been before. But as of 2016, I still prefer the Mac OS to Windows.

December 19, 2016 at 9:57PM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
151

All Apple laptops are top quality built but not nearly all of PC ones are. It's easy to draw conclusions when comparing £2000+ Mac to £300-400 PC. For £1000+ you can get amazing machine, like the Vaio from 2012 I am still happily using that has travelled with me around the world and mind you, not in the first class.

And Derek, I don't think PC has gotten "closer" to Mac UI, which I always felt was retarded, even if it improved significantly over the course of time -- the only refinements that MacOS has, are visual ones, whereas Windows has ones that improves usability and depth/nuance of what you can do on the system. Windows is for an expert user, has been rock stable since Win 7, and its biggest advantage is of course the file/media/application management, which is basically what you are facing day in and day out, no matter what productivity software you use. I really feel disabled every time I am forced to use MacOS and do anything else outside the editing program (which I inevitably have to at some point). Finder and the system configuration interface has always been crap and still is.

December 22, 2016 at 7:39PM, Edited December 22, 7:48PM

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zetty
Filmmaker
719

That's absolutely true and you make a good point. If you can go 4 years between laptops, a Mac is probably your best bet. As for desktops, however, you can upgrade parts as needed. I have a new 1070 GPU, a 1 year old soundcard, 32 GB of RAM that I stalled 2 years ago, and an i7 3770K that will hopefully last until AMD releases their Ryzen CPU. PC parts for a desktop machine can be as reliable as Apple parts (since they're often the same thing).

Now that Apple has hit a significant wall with their RAM and GPU specs, you can get a better PC laptop, cheaper. When MacBooks were almost as fast as top PC laptops, it was a little easier to argue for paying that $1,000 Apple premium.

But you do make a good point. In terms of reliability and durability, there is still no PC equivalent to the MacBook.

December 23, 2016 at 4:27PM

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"Too bad the majority of creatives don't have enough brains to understand how a computer works or the willingness to jump platform."

Can't agree with that - pretty much every editor I know has jumped ship at some point in the last 5 years. There are a few who also keep a Mac around (I have a 2011 Mac Pro still running) but just about everyone I know has moved to Windows+Premiere.

December 20, 2016 at 1:05AM

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Manning Bartlett
Children's Television producer
96

It's nice that you took the time to type out so much stuff, I agree with you about Apple (especially about them being overpriced) except for two things: "Too bad the majority of creatives don't have enough brains to understand how a computer works or the willingness to jump platform." That's not nice, and you know it's not really true. Lots of creatives use PCs and the Adobe ecosystem. Second, below I see you "dis" FCPX. As a working editor who began on Final Cut 5, used Premiere for several years, and is now back using FCPX, I can genuinely say that FCPX is faster, and that is the only reason I am back using it (since I was quite happy with Premiere, and I got as fast as I possibly could with it). The workflow is simply better in FCPX and export speeds are faster, and for a working-class editor like me time is money. Yeah they botched it at first, but it's excellent now. I don't care about the politics, I want to be done all my work by Christmas.

December 21, 2016 at 7:52AM

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Noah Leon
Videographer editor
124

What was the reasoning behind limiting the MBP to 16GB of RAM?

December 19, 2016 at 1:35PM

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Joe O
Marketing Videographer/Video Editor
88

Apparently, according to Phil Schiller, it's mostly about the batter.
http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/11/21/phil-schiller-again-defends-to...

Which is, well, mostly not what filmmakers need it for.

December 19, 2016 at 2:56PM, Edited December 19, 2:56PM

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Charles Haine
Director/Writer/Colorist

Macbook Pro? What are you guys talking about?!?!?!?

For video editors and colorist who need a mobile work station what could be better?

1. 15" Retina 10 bit P3 color gamut 500 NIT screen! Check.
Who else is offering this? And this is a first on a Macbook
2. Fastest SSD in ANY laptop on the market. Check
3. Cabable of driving TWO 10bit 5K ULtra fine Monitors with one cord! Check
No other laptop can do that.

4. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports with potential transfer speeds of up to 40 GBs. Check
Just bought a Sandisk 900 external drive for usb-c and I'm getting 770 write and 790 read!!!!! On an external drive! What? I can't do that on a MBP2015

(Got rid of my lagacy drives and readers OR I switched cables so I could take advantage of the new hardware Apple just released with the new tbMBP.) You know, those little things you do when new tech comes out and you want to take advantage of it's new potential.
Kinda like new camera tech, a professional camera has XLR ports but someone will complain that there isn't a 3.5 jack to plug their video mic pro in to get audio. LOL

5. Optimized work flow with FCPX capable of playing R3D 6k footage in realtime, and scrubing in real time. Check
High spec'd Windows DESKTOPS have a hard time doing this in Pr.

You guys have literally gone crazy, lol. WTF more do you guys want? 32GB RAM? Yes cool, that would have been awesome, but a let down or computer disaster is just people trolling the internets, or this site really doesnt know what they're talking about when it comes to "film industry tech".

December 19, 2016 at 4:38PM, Edited December 19, 4:59PM

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Timothy Cook
Self employed storyteller.
177

everything you can said can be achieved on any custom made laptop and probably cost half what Mac charges. Listen, I get it. Macs are designed to be idiot-proofed, and until recently they were the better choice for creative work therefore it's only logical that still now a lot of mac-users stick with them even if, well, as i said, you can have everything. But I get it. They look cool, they are status symbol, they are regarded as "the cool kid on the block" I can't blame people for wanting a bit of swagger and style :) But they do not make sense economically.

December 19, 2016 at 5:26PM

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Luc Beloix
Director Of Photography
124

Haha, I think you missed the parts of my comment where I mentioned fastest SSD in a laptop, meaning no other laptop has that, right now.

Or 10 bit P3 Retina Display. I'm pretty sure no one has that either.
So with those two points alone, I struggle to see how this computer is a miserable failure, or "you can build a PC version"
Everyone wants to say' "I can get it cheaper in a PC" but yet you can't get it in a PC.
Not to mention if I'm editing in FCPX which seems to be the only way to work with high end footage on a LAPTOP, then it has to be Mac OS based system not a PC. ;)
You want to say a PC can do it but we keep seeing Pr struggle with high end footage on laptops and even desktops, without throwing tons of high end hardware at it.

Mac isn't a status symbol if I can't run FCPX on a PC. It means I have to run a Mac if I want to run OS or other OS based programs. I actually don't have a option of run a PC.

I would buy a cheaper Mac if I could, but I buy what Apple sales.
Why? Not because of a status, but because it runs the programs that I want and use. If your're happy with PC then great!
But I use Macs and the new MacBook Pro blows the 2015 vs out of the water. (Ref. my first post and numbered points)

December 19, 2016 at 6:45PM, Edited December 19, 6:49PM

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Timothy Cook
Self employed storyteller.
177

Tim, you can get PCI-E M.2 NVMe ssds for laptops that are faster and replacable as long as it has the proper input (mine has two). They're sequential 3.5 read and 2.1 write. The key here is that these are replaceable and the Macbook ones are not, which can cause major issues.
Is Final Cut the only software that you need for work?

December 19, 2016 at 7:51PM

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LukeP
232

Why would you prefer to use fcpx? It's garbage

December 20, 2016 at 9:03AM, Edited December 20, 9:03AM

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connor
20

lol

December 20, 2016 at 2:28PM

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Tyler McCool
One Man Show
310

Your opinion is garbage. Have you edited a project from beginning to end on fcpx? No? Sheep.

December 20, 2016 at 5:44PM

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James Manson
Photographer
48

You're obviously not an editor, connor.

December 21, 2016 at 7:55AM, Edited December 21, 7:55AM

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Noah Leon
Videographer editor
124

Yeah, all those custom made laptops out there are amazing...

December 19, 2016 at 8:19PM

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Nothing to do with style or swagger. Macs work. When you have work every day, deadlines to meet, out in the field shooting and editing, harsh condition etc, etc. Macs just work. To be honest you are starting to sound kinda silly.

December 20, 2016 at 5:43PM

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James Manson
Photographer
48

Agreed.

December 20, 2016 at 12:19PM, Edited December 20, 12:19PM

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It's true if you really want to edit full-scale on a laptop. Why would you do that, I don't know though. If you do dirty edits on the go, it's easy to use proxies and you don't need supermonitor for that. Nice build quality though, those Apple laptops -- only the higher end PC laptops can rival it.

December 22, 2016 at 7:54PM

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zetty
Filmmaker
719

I give honorable mention to the Sony a99ii. After several years of a7 users wishing Sony would put those great sensors in a body large enough to take advantage of them (no heating, room for internal ND), the much delayed a99ii has nearly all the faults of the 5D Mark IV (huge 4k crop, etc.), plus crippled video AF, no touch screen, and no 10bit out, years after the gh4 threw down the gauntlet.

December 19, 2016 at 5:11PM, Edited December 19, 5:12PM

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J Robbins
356

I agree with a lot of what you say, but I bet both of us would sure as heck take one! Sounds like a pretty nice camera to me.

December 19, 2016 at 11:35PM

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I don't know how you put the vaporware "Craft Camera" in the same category as the fastest Macbook Pro ever created.

December 20, 2016 at 11:08AM

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I think you missed one on your list. The original BM Ursa. Those sensor upgrades never did materialize nor is there any indication it's likely to happen anytime soon (if ever). To add insult to injury, those owners can't even upgrade to the new firmware that was just released.

December 20, 2016 at 2:18PM

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I find it very ironic the number of anti Apple comments by people who seem to have it better figured out, yet still have the time to write lengthy posts about it..

December 20, 2016 at 2:26PM

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Tyler McCool
One Man Show
310

Really. They have proclaimed the performance, that sounds like the Mini. Red released at a high price and so is Craft. The starting price is mostly a head. If you add all of it up, how different is it to the mini price? We are talking a $1000 camera here. So a full package should be upto $2000 4k to be cheap in today's terms (compared to black magic cameras that start around $1000).

It is what it is, a nice base line camera with modular features, which is apparently better than cheaper BM cameras.

December 22, 2016 at 6:18AM, Edited December 22, 6:33AM

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Wayne M
Director of a Life
228

5D was a film tech let down for sure but the sensors ability in low light for photos is incredible.

December 28, 2016 at 9:55PM

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Missing from this list - Atomos failing to complete the original Shogun's firmware to match the advertised claims of what the device would do.
If you bought it for Raw, you're shit outta luck, even Sony FS cameras are only getting 'Beta' support, nothing for the Canon crowd, and definitely nothing for the Aja fans or Arri owners.
Got myself blocked from Atomos's facebook page for asking questions on this subject, and ya gotta wonder, is the planned action to not complete the firmware the real reason Atomos closed the user forum?

January 3, 2017 at 1:14AM

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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
157