B&H Photo News Roundup: Week of April 7, 2024

B&H Photo News Roundup: Week of April 7, 2024

NAB begins on Sunday and this week was loaded up with plenty of reveals from brands hoping to capture attendees’ attention on the show floor. There’s always too much to cover—that’s why you should keep stopping by our NAB page to find the latest news, videos, and specials—and that makes it even more difficult to pick out the key products to highlight this week. We landed on the latest DJI gimbal release due to their consistent popularity along with Tilta’s extreme cage system for iPhones and Atomos’ phone accessory and light strip.

Be sure to look through the other news of the week as I’m sure you’ll find something else that will pique your interest.

DJI RS 4 series gimbals and upgraded Focus Pro system arrive

Gimbals have become an almost mandatory addition to any filmmaker’s toolkit and DJI has been leading the pack in this category for years with the Ronin series. The main lineup is getting a decent refresh this year with the release of the RS 4 and RS 4 Pro. These gimbals feature a slew of upgrades, including a revamped vertical shooting setup, enhanced stabilization, and new accessories. Alongside these gimbals is the Focus Pro, which is an improved take on their LiDAR-based follow-focus system.

The company’s biggest problem with their next-generation gimbals is that the current models are very good already. The RS 4 and RS 4 Pro don’t stray too far from their predecessors with a look and feel that is very similar—even the load capacities have remained effectively unchanged. It is under the hood where you will find the real improvements:

  • Teflon coatings on all axes for smoother balancing

  • Second-gen vertical orientation shooting

  • 4th-generation stabilization algorithm (plus car mount mode)

  • Pro can handle payloads up to 10 lb and it has 20% stronger motor torque

  • Standard RS 4 can work with rigs up to 6.6 lb

These are still among the top gimbals you can purchase today.

DJI made autofocus for everyone when they released their original LiDAR focus system a couple years ago. The Focus Pro is kicking things up a notch. All the major components of this focus system have received upgrades, denoted by a new “Pro” moniker. This includes the Focus Pro LiDAR, Focus Pro Motor, Focus Pro Grip, and Focus Pro Hand Unit.

The piece that makes DJI’s focus system work is the LiDAR rangefinder. The new Pro module promises to be more accurate by nearly doubling the number of ranging points. It can also work from a greater distance as the maximum range gets a bump from 46’ to 65’. Additional smart AF functions have arrived with human and vehicle recognition as well as finer control over focus transitions and modes. The entire Focus Pro system can be used independently from other devices with the use of the Focus Pro Hand Unit which is a fully-features FIZ controller.

Lots of cool stuff for filmmakers. Also, they did release a new FPV drone—the Avata 2—this week and you can check out our video on it.

Tilta Khronos system makes the iPhone a full-fledged cinema camera

The most popular camera of all time is the iPhone. More people take more photos and videos with an iPhone than any other device. The iPhone 15 Pro is Apple’s latest take and with it came some shockingly impressive improvements, such as ProRes, log recording, and USB-C (finally!). Even with its popularity and shockingly good video quality its form factor—being a phone and all—is far from ideal for professional video capture. Enter the Tilta Khronos.

Starting with what could be viewed as a chunky smartphone case, the Tilta Khronos allows filmmakers to build up a rig that feels at home on set and enables the use of all the essential accessories one would want to make shooting easier and guarantee the highest quality footage.

The Khronos Cage goes beyond the usual smartphone cages as it has some cool tech inside. The most notable being an accessory ecosystem that includes power distribution. Attach the Power Handle and you will be keeping your iPhone and more all juiced up. There are even adapter for lenses and filters to customize the look of your footage.

A good example of how you can build this system into a rig you can be proud of is how it looks with the addition of a USB-C Hub. This allows for the use of additional accessories and even a full-size monitor, such as an Atomos Ninja. Make sure to snap on Tilta’s cooling fan to maximize shooting time with your iPhone as well.

When using a compatible app, like the Blackmagic Camera app, you can gain additional accessory support. The coolest one is being able to use Tilta’s remote follow focus system to control the iPhone. This is real, professional control similar to what you would be able to get with a traditional camera. If you want to use some of your current camera tools there are NATO, Arch, and cold shoe adapters available.

I’m not saying you should drop your current cinema rig, but now you can consider using the iPhone alongside it or even as your primary camera on select shoots.

Atomos expands offerings with Phone accessory & Sun Dragon light

Originally in the game with on-camera monitors, Atomos is expanding their offerings with the release of the Atomos Phone, an accessory that turns an iPhone into a fully-featured monitor, and the Sun Dragon, an LED light strip promising outstanding color rendering and versatility.

Oftentimes the best display anyone owns is the one on their smartphone. Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro series has an OLED panel with a max brightness of 1600 nits and support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. That’s better specs than any consumer-grade monitor. That USB-C port has been helpful for adding accessories but it still doesn’t have the native versatility we would want from a professional tool. The Atomos Phone is an accessory that solves many of the iPhone’s shortcomings and essentially turns it into a Ninja.

The Atomos Phone attaches to the back of an iPhone and provides plenty of I/O:

  • L-series battery slot

  • HDMI in

  • USB-C mic/accessory in

  • Video output

  • USB-C power input (5V/3A)

The Atomos Phone relies on the Atomos app to become a proper monitor and will even operate in a vertical orientation. It will save in a high-quality ProRes or simultaneous transcode to a 10-bit H.265 file. And, of course, the iPhone can serve files directly to the cloud.

Truly expanding their horizons, Atomos has also revealed the Sun Dragon—a full-color LED light strip. This is completely different than what we are used to seeing from Atomos. It is a 16’-long LED strip with LEDs that are spaced close enough together to theoretically eliminate the multiple-shadow effect. It is also full color and has excellent color fidelity.

Being a flexible strip opens the door for many positioning and mounting possibilities. It also benefits from advanced control options. Users can use conventional wired remotes or DMX systems, but if you are an Atomos user already then you can benefit from AirGlu control via a compatible monitor, such as the Shogun or a Ninja with Atomos Connect. We will have to wait and see more about this light at the show to get a better picture on how it performs and what Atomos’ strategy is moving into lighting.

In other news…

NAB is going to dominate the news cycle for at least the next week. One item that we hope doesn’t get lost in that madness is the Arturia Astrolab. B&H’s Gabriel Richards put together some nice jams with it and you can see it in action in this hands-on video review.

And here are the rest of the items we covered this week:

Check back next week for all the latest from NAB!