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.
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
I recently had the new Sony PXW-X70 camcorder here in the office for a few days. It’s a very interesting little camera. It’s very small, weighing in at only 2.9 pounds. It offers a unique combination of a larder sensor and a built-in 12x powered servo zoom lens. The sensor is 1” in size. That means its bigger then a 2/3” broadcast camera sensor and even bigger then a Super16mm film frame. It’s still a fair amount smaller then a Super35mm motion picture film frame or a Photo Full Frame sensor. The result is that you are able to create a shallow depth of field much easier with this camera then most traditional 1/3” or 2/3” camcorders, and you still get the benefit of using a 12x powered zoom.
The camera shoots 1080p up to 60fps in the XAVC format. The sensor is a 4K-ready sensor. Beginning in 2015 Sony will be offering a paid upgrade for the camera to enable the 4K recording capability. At this point there is no price point set for the paid upgrade. Currently the camera is selling for $2,299.
Local shooter Jeff Kastner (website) took the camera out for one of his “Grants Getaways” packages. The results looked great. The 60p slow motion was very clear and retained lots of detail. He also performed some low light tests compared to the Sony EX3. The X70 held up very well. The noise levels were low and were mostly in the luminance range. Post by Eric C. Petrie
I had my first look at the new Panasonic HC-X1000 camcorder over the last few days. It’s a fantastic little machine. This might be the most exciting Panasonic camcorder in several years. The camera is very small and light yet still gives you all of the hard button control you would want in a true broadcast hand-held camcorder. There are 3 separate rings on the lens for zoom, focus, and iris control, hard buttons for gain, shutter speed, white balance, and true glass neutral density filters.
The huge feature of the camcorder is the ability to record 4K resolution mpeg4 video in camera to SD memory cards. The camera uses a 1/2” CMOS sensor to make this possible. It features a 20x zoom lens. Notably the camera can also record mpeg4 1080p images up to 60fps in an I-Frame format. I-Frame recording retains better motion detail in your images and also is easier for computers to work with because they don’t have to decode the GOP structure simultaneously.
I was really impressed. The camera offers the most innovative hands-on experience from any Panasonic broadcast camera in years. Having the 4 blank, user assignable buttons right there in a row on the side also was very handy. Although some old-school pros might scoff at the touch screen at first i felt that the way Panasonic has implemented it was great. Nothing really requires the touch screen control but the touch screen can be used to accomplish certain tasks much faster then the buttons can. I liked the touch screen auto-focus. I also thought using the touch screen for “bonus” user buttons was very smart, even creative. Overall i really liked it. I haven’t been able to do any image quality tests yet. But comparing to comparable cameras like the Canon XF200 or Sony Z100 should happen soon.
This little beauty weighs in at only 3.4lbs. It is currently selling for $3,498. Do you want to check it out? Arrange a demonstration time. Rent it and have 100% of your rental go towards a potential purchase. Post by Eric C. Petrie
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.
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
Canon has announced a new compact hand-held traditional ENG-style camcorder. XF200 is an update to the XF100. About 6 months ago Canon released the XA20 compact camcorder for just over $2,000. Many people thought it was odd that the XA20 actually outperformed the more expensive XF100 camera which sold for about $500 more. The XF200 now rectifies that. The basic design of the XF200 is nearly identical to the XF100. However Canon has added some of the most desirable features from the XA20. This includes a 20x zoom lens (up from then 10x on the XF100) and Wi-Fi network control for the camera. Other changes include adding separate lens rings for focus, zoom, and iris (compared the XF100 single multi-fiction ring), adding a rotating hand grip, and adding internal mpeg-4 recording for situations where you need a smaller signal. As is typical with the Canon ENG cameras there will also be an XF205 version that will feature HD-SDI output, timecode, and gen-lock for studio use. The XF200 is expected to start shipping by the beginning of summer for $3,499. The XF205 will be selling for $3,999. Post by Eric C. Petrie.
We have the Sony PXW-Z100 4K ENG hand-held broadcast camera in-stock and ready to go. Wondering if this is the right camera for you? We’ve got a demo model. Come down and play with it. Arrange and out-of-office evaluation and shoot with the camera in your circumstances. Why do we call this a revolution? Imagine you’re shooting a reality-style TV show or a run and gun documentary for eventual 1080p release. If you’ve captured with this 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 camera you have so much extra data to work with that you can zoom, crop, stabilize, and create whole new cut-away angles and still have plenty of resolution and data to create an acceptable image. Don’t want to shoot in 4K? No problem. What about 1080p at 60fps 10-bit 4:2:2 on a 1/2″ CMOS sensor with a 20x powered servo zoom lens. All of this power in a hand held camera. Oh, and we’re throwing in a 32GB XQD card for free for a limited time. Take a look at it in our office today or see it next to 30 other cameras at the Cascade Mt. Video Show on February 26th.