NAB this year was about as crazy as it’s ever been with tons of new cameras, accessories, and other products being announced and released. I’ve covered a bit of the action on my blog over the past couple of days, but now that NAB is coming to a close, I wanted to roundup some camera highlights from the show so the readers of this site could have everything in one place. I won’t be going into huge detail on any of the new cameras in this post, so be sure to check back soon as I will delve into my thoughts on some of these products in future posts.
Blackmagic URSA – $5995/$6495
The first of two cameras that Blackmagic Design released this year. The URSA is a Super 35mm 4K digital cinema camera that shares the same sensor as their 4K production camera, but is housed in a body that is much more suitable for real world use. It has three monitors built in, including a massive 10 inch pop out 1080p screen on the side, comes in EF or PL mount, has XLR inputs, audio metering, and records to CFast cards. The camera also has a swappable mount, so down the road you can upgrade the sensor if you choose to do so. You can also opt to buy the camera with no sensor at all, and attach a different camera (let’s say a GH4) to the body of the URSA, and just use the URSA to capture/monitor your footage.
Blackmagic Studio Camera – $1995/$2995
This is a very interesting camera that is intended to be used in a live studio environment, as opposed to the BMCC/Pocket Camera/URSA which are designed for location production. The Studio Camera has a MFT mount and can shoot at 1080 or 4K, depending on which version you opt to purchase. It also has many other features that are suitable for a broadcast environment such as a tally light, and talkback functionality. It will likely find its home on broadcast productions covering sporting events, local/cable access tv, and in other low – mid budget broadcast environments.
Sony A7S – $1699 (estimate)
Sony’s new addition to their full frame mirror less lineup is the ultra powerful A7S which is capable of recording 4K (with an external recorder), and can shoot at ridiculously high ISO’s at up to 120fps. The camera can actually shoot at up to 409,600 ISO which means it can essentially see in the dark, and apparently shooting at around 25,000 ISO is just as clean as shooting at 100 ISO. This is made possible by the 12MP sensor that is really optimized for low-light/video work, as it has a very large pixel size, and a low pixel count.
AJA CION – $9000
AJA must have taken notice after their competitor, Blackmagic Design made such a big splash when they entered the camera work, as now they have followed suit. Their new CION is a 4K production camera that has a global shutter, and can record at up to 120fps, which is certainly going to give Blackmagic a run for it’s money! The camera has a PL mount, can record to ProRes (potentially RAW in the future), has XLR inputs, and has a built in thunderbolt connection. It also has a built in shoulder pad, which makes it ideal for run and gun/handheld work.
Digital Bolex D16M – $4000
There aren’t many cameras designed to shoot in monochrome (black and white), in fact there are probably only 3 or 4 that are in existence today, and one of them is the new D16M from digital bolex. The camera has a native B & W sensor made by Kodak, and is the most affordable black and white camera on the market today. While the market for this camera might be small, they certainly have it cornered as for anyone looking to shoot a film in black and white (and understand the importance of shooting monochrome natively, rather than desaturating in post), this is really the only cost effective option out there. The next step up would the Epic or Alexa monochrome cameras, which cost many times the price of the D16M.
RED Scarlet Dragon – $14,500
RED finally gave word on shipping dates, pricing, and specs for their upcoming Scarlet Dragon camera. While the camera costs $14,500, current Scarlet owners will have an upgrade path, although it will cost about $9000 to upgrade to the new camera. The camera is supposed to ship in June, but there has been no official release date yet, and I wouldn’t expect to see them going out in large volumes until at least the end of the summer. It can shoot at a maximum of 150fps, but that needs to be achieved by shooting at 2K, but even at 5K the camera shoots at 48fps, which isn’t bad at all. At 6K, it will only shoot at 12fps, so the 6K setting will likely be used for time-lapse or still photography purposes.
JVC has really stepped up their game this year by releasing 4 new cinema cameras (two of which I won’t be discussing as they are specialty/rigging cameras), but the most impressive is the GY-LSX1 (although it could use a better name!). This camera has PL mount, shoots 4K at up to 60p, HD at up to 240p, and can record to SDHX or SDXC cards using an MPEG-4 AVC 4:2:2 codec. There is still no information on this camera regarding the official price or the specs on ISO/dynamic range, but I will be sure to update this post once more information becomes available.
Another 4K interchangeable lens Super 35mm camera from JVC, but this one takes more of a camcorder format as opposed to the cinema/broadcast format of the LSX1. The strange thing about this camera is that it has a MFT mount, and the sensor is Super 35mm size, so I’m not quite sure how that will work out considering the mount and sensor size don’t match. The camera can only shoot at 24p or 30p at 4K – so there is no over cranking available as of now, but it is able to simultaneously record to HD and/or SD for proxy files that are more easily editable during the offline editing stage of post. Like the LSX1, we still don’t have an official word on the ISO/dynamic range specs, but I am not expecting crazy numbers from this camera.
There are a few other cameras that have recently been announced or released, although not at NAB 2014. They are:
Panasonic Varicams – Under $60K (package price: camera, recorder, viewfinder)
Panasonic released two new fantastic Varicams this year, both sharing the same modular design and recorder, but featuring different camera heads. One version boasts a Super35 4K camera head, and the other features a 2/3” HD/240fps head. Many of us Panasonic users have been eagerly awaiting an update to the Varicam lineup for some time now, so this camera was very much welcomed when it was announced. The sensor can capture over 14 stops of dynamic range, which puts it in Alexa territory, has a PL mount, and can record up to 240fps on the 2/3″ version and 120fps on the 4K version. It is capable of capturing 4K RAW, but can also record to AVC-ULTRA 4K or AVC-Intra at 2K resolution, and ProRes recording is also available at HD resolution. Codex will also be releasing a recorder to be used with these cameras that will allow for uncompressed RAW capture at up to 120fps. We can expect to see these cameras shipping by the fall.
Kinefinity KineMAX ($10,000 estimated) & KineMINI ($6000 estimated)
I posted about these two new cameras from Kinefinity a few weeks ago on my blog, but I will give a quick refresher here for those that missed it. The KineMAX is a new 6K camera that has a PL, Nikon, EF, or B4 option for the lens mount, can shoot at up to 30fps at 6K and up to 100fps in 2K. It has 14 stops of Dynamic range at 6K and 16 Stops at 3K, which is absolutely amazing.
The KineMINI is the little brother of the KineMAX, but it still shoots 4K images from a Super 35mm sensor, and has all of the same lens mount options as the KineMAX. It also can achieve very high frame rates, shooting up to 96fps at 2K or 100fps at 1080p. Really, it looks like the KineMINI is the better option in terms of price to performance ratio, unless you absolutely need 6K, which I’m fairly confident that no one really does!
Lumix GH4 – $1699
One of my all time favorite camera lineups (Lumix GH) was expanded earlier this year with the addition of the GH4. This camera shoots internally to 4K from a MFT sensor and is still the most affordable 4K DSLR on the market. It’s main competitor now is the newly released A7S, but given the fact that the A7S needs an external recorder, the GH4 definitely has a leg up in my opinion. The camera also outputs clean 10bit 4K over HDMI, which is fantastic and will make it an excellent companion for the recently released Atomos Shogun 4K Recorder, and has much improved lowlight sensitivity over their previous iterations in the lineup. An optional recording module can be purchased (as pictured above) that allows for XLR inputs and TC in, and SDI out.
What Didn’t Get Released
I was fairly shocked that there were no new camera announcements from Canon as far as their cinema/DSLR line goes, but at the same time I wasn’t expecting much from them. If they were to step up their C100 for instance, anything they could do to it would immediately cut into their sales of their C300/C500/1DC, unless they also updated those cameras. So in a way, Canon has sort of backed themselves into a corner, but given the fact that their existing camera lineup is still going strong, I don’t think they are too worried.
GoPro was also rumored to come out with their new Hero4, but it has still yet to be released.
That’s about it for my camera highlights, but check back soon as I will be getting into more detail on some of these cameras over the coming weeks, and also touching on other highlights from the show in regards to accessories and gear.