5 months after unboxing my Amira I have installed the first major software update and am thrilled by a number of new features now available. Not that the camera had been in any way lacking before this; minor bugs were repaired in the first few weeks after delivery. Some of the new features now available were still in development when the camera was first released, while others are improvements suggested by those who, like myself, gathered experience with the camera in the first few months after its introduction.
I was able to test these new features before the official release. Here are my Top 5 of functions that are relevant and useful in daily use. For a complete list please go to this post
PL glass, in particular the Cabrio zooms, will remain my preference for documentary shooting, they provide optimal image quality and best handling, but do come with a hefty price tag. For clients with a lower budget who still appreciate the superior picture quality and unsurpassed features of the Amira, using Canon EF glass is now a cost-cutting option.
The mount is not an adapter, but replaces the PL-mount and can be switched in two minutes.
For lenses without a manual iris ring – the electronic iris can be adjusted in whole stops or as finely as the lens allows by using the jog wheel on the menu screen.
Many additional aids help to evaluate the viewfinder image even better than before. My favourites:
- Lens data (iris, distance, focal length) can be displayed in the viewfinder.
- A waveform monitor can be superimposed in two different sizes – a small box and full-frame. Very useful for critical exposure decisions.
- The peaking level can be varied in finer gradations.
- Viewfinder magnification is increased for more accurate focussing.
- The “battery empty” and “card full” indicators, which were rather subtle before are now more obvious.
- Inadvertently switching into playback-mode with your thumb while gripping the viewfinder is a thing of the past – you have to press the switch for three seconds to activate playback.
Both SDI output connectors can be configured independently. You can choose between a clean feed for the director’s monitor, and a separate feed which superimposes all the viewing aids available in the viewfinder. These can be configured independently – assistant and operator do not need to share the same settings.
Colour bars can be routed to the monitor, which helps set contrast and brightness levels accurately.
A buffer records a loop of up to 20 seconds (when shooting ProRes 422HQ @ 25fps) – never miss what happened before you hit record again.