I don’t care about what anything was DESIGNED to do, I care about what it CAN do. – Gene Kranz, Flight Director Apollo 13
That is one of my favorite lines from the movie Apollo 13… it’s also a truism uttered by flight director Gene Kranz during the drama of getting the real Apollo 13 astronauts home safely. The result was engineers squeezing every available amp of electricity and making a dwindling oxygen supply keep three men alive until they splashed down in what Commander Jim Lovell called “A Successful Failure.” Now, what does an epic voyage that happened over 40 years ago have to do with a micro 4/3s mirrorless camera? Read the quote again. Because hackers at EOSHD have embraced it and figured out how to give the Sony NEX-5 46Mbit capture rates and even 4:2:2 color. WOW.
Sources say that this hack can allow 46Mbit on the older NEX 5 without too much trouble and it is still early days yet, so we could see stuff like intra-frame recording and improvements to HDMI out, or even 4:2:2 colour in MP4 mode and higher resolutions. – EOSHD
Hacking a camera isn’t a new trend. If you’re a Canon users, you are probably well affiliated with Magic Lantern, the firmware hack which lives on the SD card and bypasses Canon’s own firmware. Magic Lantern has given select Canon DSLRs a variety of features that Canon is only now starting to incorporate, including manual gain control and zebra support. Then there’s a host of Panasonic GH1 and GH2 hacks which have boosted ISO to 12,800, supported 200Mbit AVCHD 1080/24p and even 80Mbit Anamorphic 2.66:1 MJPEG. The result is that the GH2 has become a favorite amongst low budget shooters looking to make short films on a shoestring that look much bigger than they cost. And it’s working, too.
So, a hack for the SONY NEX-5 and other SONY models would certainly make it a more serious contender for shooting low budget video Super35 (or actually APS-C) style. The hack doesn’t boost resolution, per se, but because it’s pushing capture rates, it’s able to put more detail into the image which isn’t lost through compression. That means much better detail in shadows and that means far more dramatic imagery in low light situations. In short, NEX-5 users get more bang for the buck. Now, are you going to make your epic using the NEX-5 hack and sell it at the American Film Market? Not solely based on the NEX-5, but to start with a lower end camera, means that the hack can go no where but up with beefier models like the SONY FS100, which could get a hand in color correction by higher bit rates at image capture.
And even if the experiment dead ends with the NEX-5, it’ll take1080p video that cameraman Philip Bloom said of the “N” model that it was “pretty damn good” and can turn it up to eleven. And that can’t be a bad thing. And as the hack gets more stable and more features come on line, it may just be that it’ll turn the NEX-5 into a serious option … especially if you add this.
(look about 14 minutes in for Bloom’s testing of the NEX-5)