For the most part 4K acquisition has been relegated towards cinematic style production. The majority of professional 4K cameras on the market are “cinema” cameras that utilize interchangeable lenses and have Super35mm (or similar) sized sensors. There has been very little traction in implementing 4K in traditional television production with classic acquisition tools like studio cameras, ENG-style cameras, or hand-held integrated lens camcorders. Sony is aiming to start the shift towards 4K in all forms of video production.
Before NAB Sony already had several good options including the X70, the Z150, and the Z100. All include an integrated powered zoom lens. All of these camcorders have a single sensor image system. The X70 & Z150 use a 1″ sensor and the Z100, the oldest of the group, a 1/2″ sensor. At NAB this year Sony is debuting several new cameras including the new PXW-Z450. The Z450 is based off of the same body as the PXW-X400. This gives users the first Sony traditional ENG shoulder mount form factor camera that offers 4K acquisition. Sony has intentionally stuck with a 2/3″ sensor design for the Z450 so that it will be fully compatible with all of the existing 2/3″ B4 broadcast ENG servo powered zoom lenses that are already in the field. Interestingly it appears that the Z450 uses a single 2/3″ sensor. Additionally, there is an upgrade kit for owners of the 1080p X400 camera. If you currently have an X400, or buy an X400 in the future, and decide you need 4K, you can send your camera to Sony and the camera will be converted to a Z450 for a fee.
Finally, in the studio space, Sony is introducing the HDC4800 studio camera. This is very interesting as this will have a newly designed single Super35mm 4K sensor. The sensor can generate up to 480fps in 4K. Yes, thats 8x slow motion in 4K. This is incredible. The camera has a native PL lens mount meaning that you will need some of the hig-end cine servo glass, like a Fujinon Cabrio, to use the camera in 4K. The HDC4800 has another trick up its sleeve. In the promo video for the camera Sony shows it’s PL lens mount being adapted to a B4 2/3″ mount. When the camera is in 1080p mode it can utilize a 2/3″ crop of the sensor, thus allowing it to be fully compatible with stadium or large studio style box lenses. Also, when in 1080p the maximum frame rate jumps to 16x normal, or 960fps for 60p countries. Imagine a sports game where a couple of these cameras are mounted onto large box lenses with 40x zoom magnifications as your primary cameras and the 4K super slow-mo camera is on the sidelines for close-ups using a 4.5x Fujinon Cabrio 19-90. The HDC4800 is also designed to integrate well with the 4K studio camera Sony introduced last NAB, the HDC4300. The HDC4300 uses 3x 2/3″ 4K image sensors and has a maximum frame rate of 60p in 4K or 480p in 1080p. Both cameras have matched colorimetry for ideal compatibility.
Just announced are Canon’s new 18-80mm T4.4 EF Compact Servo lens and ME200S-SH Multi-Purpose camera.
Weighing in at only 2.65 lbs the 18-80mm was designed for video and is as versatile as it is compact and lightweight. It was developed with full external servo control to control zoom, focus, and iris/aperture and there is also a new optional ZSG-C10 grip to help support different shooting styles. Other features include high level 4K performance, a no step iris mechanism, accessory support, and is parfocal. There is also additional support for use with Canon Cinema EOS cameras. It supports dual pixel autofocus and the dual pixel focus guide, image stabilization, and EF communication functions. This compact servo lens will be priced at $5225.
The other announcement Canon made is for the release of their new multi-purpose camera. Built in the same vein as Canon’s 4,000,000 ISO ME20, the ME200 can be configured to tackle just about any pro video scenario such as cinema, television, surveillance, and documentary work. It weighs 2.2 lbs and has dimensions of 4”x4.6”x4.4” (LHW) which allows for numerous builds and use with various camera systems.
– Features include
Canon Super 35mm CMOS Sensor
Dual Pixel Auto Focus
12 Stops of Dynamic Range
1080p/720p Video to 60fps
3G/HD-SDI and HDMI Terminals
Locking EF Mount
One Shot Auto Focus
Built-in Motorized ND Filters
Motorized IR Cut Filter for Infrared
Push Auto Iris
Compatible w/ Select EF-mount Lenses
RS-422 Remote Control Terminal
Fuji has announced that they will introduce the Super35mm Fujinon Premier 20-120mm Cabrio XK powered servo motor zoom lens at NAB. The new lens features a constant T3.5 aperture throughout the entire zoom range and, like other Cabrio lenses, comes with a detachable servo drive unit similar to those seen on traditional ENG broadcast lenses. It also has a 200 degree focus rotation, 9 iris blades and a minimum focus distance of 1.1 m, 3′ 7″. The 20-120mm weighs in at 6.39lb. Fujinon are aiming the lens squarely at the growing number of owner/operators who are making the transition from ENG 2/3″ sensor based cameras to Super 35mm digital cinema cameras such as the Sony F5/55, Canon C300 Mark II, Panasonic Varicam LT and the ARRI Amira. With a lot of broadcast television series making the move to digital cinema cameras there has been a growing need for ENG style Super 35mm lenses that feel more familiar to operators making the transition and are quick to operate. LDS and /i Tech metadata compatibility are very useful when you need to record the position information of zoom, iris, and focus for computer animation and similar post production operations. The digital servo on this lens has 16-bit encoding, so operators can be assured that the lens data outputs are extremely accurate. The lens is set to start shipping in June of this year.
From March 1st through June 30th Canon is offering a slew of instant rebates on their pro video camcorders- specifically in the XF and XA families. The instant rebates range from $200 to $1,000 which makes it a great time to pick one of these up and save a couple bucks.
$1,000 Instant Rebate on XF305- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $3,999
$500 Instant Rebate on XF300- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $3,499
$500 Instant Rebate on XF205- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $3,499
$500 Instant Rebate on XF200- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $2,999
$500 Instant Rebate on XF105- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $2,499
$500 Instant Rebate on XF100- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $1,999
$300 Instant Rebate on XA25- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $2,199
$300 Instant Rebate on XA20- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $1,699
$200 Instant Rebate on XA35- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $2,299
$200 Instant Rebate on XA30- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $1,799
$200 Instant Rebate on XA10- Final Price after Instant Rebate- $1,299
By this stage in Sony’s camera evolution they have made it clear that XAVC is the way of their future. Sony has spend the last two years or more slowly remaking their whole professional and broadcast lineup to unify on XAVC. Everything above the AVCHD/NXCam products has transitioned this direction. With these two cameras Sony’s XAVC line has grown to 9 professional cameras. The traditional XDCam, MPEG2 422, camera line is now down to 5 in-production models.
Sony has now introduced two more ENG cameras to the XAVC camera family. The first is a full-size shoulder mount ENG camera called the PXW-X500. This directly replaces the PMW-500 in the XDCam lineup. The PXW-X500 features a full 1080p 2/3″ PowerHAD 3CCD sensor block. It combines state-of-the art wireless technologies, utilizing wi-fi control, FTP file upload, and LTE proxy transmission. It also features up to 120fps 1080p recording and has options for ProRes and DNxHD.
The second camera Sony has shown is the XAVC version of the PMW-200. You guessed it, the camera is called the PXW-X200. Although for the moment the PMW-200 will remain in the line the X200 is the obvious replacement. Built on the same body and using the same 1/2″ 3CMOS block the camera now records XAVC up to 60fps 1080p. It adds the wireless connectivity that has started to become standard including wireless streaming. It also ups the zoom ratio to a 17x zoom lens.
As a side note Sony is shifting the use of the term “XDCam” once again. XDCam started off as their term for tapeless acquisition. Then it became a video codec that could be recorded to optical media or solid state media. Then it became a family of similarly designed MPEG2 codecs. Now Sony is using it to simply refer to their broadcast level cameras, the category above the “pro-sumer” AVCHD/NXCam cameras and adjacent to the CineAlta cameras. In all the Sony literature they’ve now started to refer to the older MPEG2 recording codec as simply “MPEG2 422 50mbps”, with out any catchy moniker. Sony XDCam could be a broadcast-level XAVC camera or it could be a broadcast level MPEG2 camera. Additionally all of the newly announced XAVC cameras have legacy support for MPEG2 recording formats.
Although Sony hasn’t debuted a new cinema camera at this yeas NAB Show the have announced several new firmware and hardware upgrades for their existing F5 & F55 cameras. In many ways this strategy of continuing to offer a wide array of enhancements to existing products is a welcome breath of fresh air. Many companies have promised us “modular” cameras, “future proof” cameras, “upgradeable” cameras, yet year after year NAB is still crowded with new models driving people to feel as if investing in new gear is futile because of the compulsive need to not be “out of date”. Sony has continued to demonstrate a real interest in developing and fleshing out the F55 & F5 to meet the needs of any possible shooter.
The first big announcement was firmware 4.0 for these cameras. The heavy hitting features in version 4.0 are big enhancements to interval recording, the addition of cache pre-roll recording, and the addition of ProRes and DNxHD codecs. The importance of the addition of ProRes cannot be understated. Its significant on several levels. It marks the first time Sony has enlisted a 3rd party codec on one of their industrial level cameras. It furthers the concept that ProRes has really become the worlds first high end “universals standard” video format. It also shows that Sony is truly listening to user feedback, to the extent that they are doing what was previously considered impossible for them. 2 years ago when these cameras where introduced and the XAVC codec was introduced with them i knew Sony would never go to the extent of licensing a 3rd party format like ProRes. And now 2 years later here they are enabling ProRes on their cameras.
In the hardware department there were two notable announcements. Sony has introduced an interesting “sled” concept. The sled mounts to the bottom of the F5 & F55. It adds a shoulder pad and a new control layout. This layout essentially converts the bottom quarter of the camera into a layout that would be identical to what someone would find on an XDCam ENG camera. It also adds a slot-in wireless audio dock. The native control layout of the F5/F55 is similar to an Arri Alexa, it’s driven off of a screen/button combo thats on the side of the body. While this works well for cinema users it’s a very unfamiliar, unintuitive, and slow layout for news-style shooters who need critical function access with the flick of a switch. The second big hardware announcement is the ability to upgrade your F5 to an F55. It involves replacing a few components including the image sensor. Having that upgrade path available is an extremely nice option to allow customers to get into a camera today with a path set for the future
When you combine all of these exciting new features with some of the options that Sony already has for these cameras it becomes clear that Sony want to find a way to use these cameras in every possible scenario. Keep in mind Sony already has their own B4 mount adapter for these cameras to allow of ENG lenses to be used. And they already have a studio dock so that they can be used in live environments (think 4K sports). Post by Eric C. Petrie
Panasonic has announced the latest in it’s legendary VariCam series, the VariCam HS. What was old is new again as Panasonic brings back the dockable camera solution. The camera is made out of two components; the head, with the lens mount and the sensor, and the back with the dockable recorder. The head features a 2/3” 1080p sensor that is capable of generating 240 frames per second. The camera can record 4:4:4 12-bit AVC-Intra or, in a surprise move, 4:4:4 12-bit Intra-Frame ProRes. Another surprising specification, Panasonic claims that their newly designed 2/3” sensor block is capable of delivering 14 stops of dynamic range. This would make it one of the only small-sensor cameras capable of doing this. Although it’s not that far removed from Blackmagics Super16mm Pocket cam which delivers 13 stops with a single 1” sensor.
Where does this camera fit on the market? With a standard B4 ENG mount you’ll be able to use high quality versatile servo zoom lenses. You’ll still be able to get “cinematic” looking images thanks to the 14 stops of dynamic range. Internal 240 frames per second at 4:2:2, 10-bit, Intra-Frame is very impressive. And 1080p30/24 at 4:4:4 12-bit Intra-Frame is a ton of data to work with. Right now Panasonic has the list price of the camera at $55,000. That puts it (in Panasonic’s eyes) in competition with Alexa and Epic. Thats far beyond the price range of Canon C500 or Sony F55. Is the cinema world of Epic and Alexa ready to embrace this Panasonic camera? I guess we’ll find out this fall. Post by Eric C. Petrie
Sony is starting to make it apparent that XAVC is their do-it-all format of the future. They’re slowly introducing XAVC hardware on all levels. Today they revealed a new XAVC camera, the PXW-X180. So what the heck is it and what does it do? It’s a hand held ENG-style camcorder in a very similar body as the PXW-Z100 or, going back further, the NX5. It features 3x 1/3” 1080p CMOS sensors and a 25x zoom lens. The big feature of the camera is it’s format versatility. It’s primary format is XAVC, 10-bit, 100mbps, 4:2:2. But it can also record XDCam, 8-bit, 50mbps, 4:2:2. Or it can record AVCHD, 8-bit, 35mbps, 4:2:0. It records all of these formats to SxS memory cards.
Another new and unique feature of the camera is it’s Sony’s first broadcast camera to feature an internal variable neutral density filter. This give it the ability to have the N/D adjusted in smooth continues levels from 1/4 to 1/128, instead of the traditional 3 setting N/D wheel. It also features Wi-Fi control, which is becoming more and more common these days. The camera will be available late summer for about $6,000. Post by Eric C. Petrie
Even though it doesn’t get as much hype as the digital cinema, large sensor, 4K cameras, traditional 1080p ENG-styel shooting is still a very important part of what many video professionals do. Panasonic has revealed their latest camera to meet these needs. The AJ-PX270 is designed in a similar form factor to the HPX250. It features a 22x servo zoom lens with combination mechanical and servo rings for zoom, focus, and iris. Panasonic has moved the XLR ports around. In a style you might see in a shoulder mount ENG camera they’ve put one on the front and one on the back. The camera has all an all new LCD panel and an amazing OLED viewfinder. It has SDI, HDMI, USB 3.0, and ethernet ports. It is Wi-Fi controllable. It records to full size or microP2 cards. The biggest reason to get this camera is it is the first hand held sub-$10k camera to feature all flavors of AVC-Ultra. That means it can do AVC-Intra at 50, 100, and 200mbps. And it can also do AVC-LongGOP at 25, 35, and 50mbps. Amazingly all formats of AVC-Ultra are 4:2:2 10-bit, except AVC-Intra 200, which can be 4:4:4. The AJ-PX270 ships in early summer for around $5,750. Post by Eric C. Petrie
Over the last couple of years Blackmagic has made their name in the camera world by offering cameras that made amazing looking images but were extremely sparse in features. Some might even say totally lacking in features. On top of very poor user interface design they lacked little things like any way to hold the camera, any way to check focus, any way to power the camera, any way to input pro audio into the camera. They required a kit that could equal or surpass the cost of the camera itself. Blackmagic has decided it’s time to introduce a camera that is more then a metal box with a sensor in it. Behold, URSA.
URSA starts off by taking the 4K global Super35mm sensor and processor out of the Production 4K camera and putting it into a larger housing. Format and image wise URSA can do all of the same things you expect from the Production camera. ProRes and RAW 4K are recorded internally, no outboard recorder necessary. 12-stops of HDR and a global shutter round off the image parameter list. Video is recorded onto CFast cards. Whats new is the housing. URSA is in a more familiar shoulder mount camera body (although it looks like an actual shoulder pad will have to come from 3rd parties). The body has 2 XLR inputs, SDI output, and timecode in and out. It even has a headphone jack. Although it doesn’t ship with a eye level viewfinder it does include 3 separate LCD screens. The primary monitor is a ten inch (yes 10”) flip out LCD screen that is 1080p resolution. On the left side of the camera you’ll find a 5” touch LCD for navigating camera settings. On the right side you’ll find another 5” LCD you’ll find read outs of all your key setting, a histogram, focus assist features, and audio meters.
The body of the camera has integrated handles and standard battery plates for V-mount or Gold Mount (three stud) batteries clip right to the back of the body. The front end features a very unusual design. This camera harkens back to the day of “dockable” camera systems where you had a head and a back recorder end. The “head” of this camera is interchangeable. Currently Blackmagic is offering it in 4 different builds, Super35mm sensor with a PL mount, Super35mm sensor with an EF mount, 2/3” broadcast sensor with a B4 mount, and finally dock recorder only with out head. Buying the dock recorder only gives you an HDMI input on the front end. This means you can mount any camera with a clean HDMI out (Panasonic GH4, Sony A7s) and use the Blackmagic back. The 2/3” B4 will mark one of the first, and certainly one of the most affordable, ENG broadcast style 4K cameras. This would be an amazing tool for sports, events, news, reality TV, and so on.
URSA with the EF mount is selling for $5995, the PL mount is $6495. These builds ship in July…. according to Blackmagic. The B4 and dock recorder only have not been priced out yet, nor is there word on availability. Post by Eric C. Petrie