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Old January 21st, 2014, 12:24 AM   #1
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Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

OK, I'm trying to get a heads up on what may be unveiled at NAB, hoping to get a sneak peak at something new from Sony, Panasonic, JVC or Canon. I was browsing thru the net when I came across this article.

Panasonic Will Likely Unveil Working 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB 2014 No Film School

I know everything is speculative right now, but, I was curious if someone with more insight might be able to know if this is just some writer guessing or if such a camera might be unveiled. NAB is about 9 weeks away so I'm guessing possible leaks might come out as we get closer to the event. And I'm sure(or hopeful) that we might get a few surprises from Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Canon and the others at NAB. So, for now, as NAB slowly but surely draws closer, let the speculating and guessing begin.
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Old January 21st, 2014, 07:04 AM   #2
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

Oh, I'm sure Panasonic will have the 4K Varicam on display. Now, whether it will be a true production model, or them just pulling out the same mock-up from the past two years is another matter. Much like the GH4K they had at CES.
But I have no doubt there will be a new 4K S35 Varicam soon, if you're in the market for one. Panasonic has publicly stated they plan on going into 4K in a big way. I'm thinking they're going to go for the broadcast TV market more so than big-screen digital cinema. In other words, maybe no raw capability. Just my guess.
I'd love to see the HPX600 come out in a 4K model. That'd be a nice shoulder-mount cam.
Can P2 cards handle 4K streaming video?

As for the other makes, Sony seems to have their plate full as it is, especially with 4K. F5, F55, Z100, AX1, FS700, even the little AX100. Canon seems to release their cameras independent of NAB. I've heard rumors of a new JVC shoulder-mount, but who knows?
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Old January 21st, 2014, 05:03 PM   #3
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

Like Glen said, Panasonic has stated they will concentrate on the commercial business side of things and I think the S35 4k will be in the 14-18k range. The GH4k will be for the rest of us for the mean time. Putting that S35 4k sensor in a AF100 form factor and price range would be a good move also, though I doubt we'll see that at NAB'14. I love being wrong in situations like this. :)
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 05:10 PM   #4
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzy Alvarez View Post
NAB is about 9 weeks away so I'm guessing possible leaks might come out as we get closer to the event.
I feel like a lot of NAB announcements aren't leaked, or if they are it is a day or two before.

The best sources I've found is when a reseller accidentally lists a new camera before it is announced. It seems like 99% of all the other speculation is just that & just camera junkies trying to get an artificial fix by saying things like:

The new GH4 is going to be 8K with raw video with a 70mm sensor that gets 24 stops of dynamic range, 12 XLR inputs, two headphone jacks, 3G SDI output & will only cost $37 or $37.50 with a new f/1.2 22x cine zoom lens.
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 07:05 PM   #5
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

Looking back at last years NAB, then Panasonic announced a new third generation Varicam - For Journalists . That press release states "The third generation VariCam will be available early next year, with pricing to be announced." But where is it? If a 4K s35 Varicam does get officially announced at NAB2014, there seems a high probability that the fourth generation of Varicam will be being officially announced before the previous generation even goes on sale!

Whilst it's true that not everybody wants RAW, then giving a camera RAW output capability is the easy part - though (as with Sonys F5/55, FS700 etc ) you may need to spend extra to record it. It's the processing etc to get coded 4k at high quality that's the difficult part - which is why only the (more expensive) F55 can record 4K XAVC - the FS700/F5 can output 4K RAW for external recording, but "only" internally record HD..

It would make no sense at all to build a camera to a very high spec, build in processing, coding etc to 4K XAVC or 4K AVC-Ultra and not give a RAW output option.

As Glen says, "I'm thinking they're going to go for the broadcast TV market ..... ", but this also begs the question of any such cameras capability of being used for studio or OB, for live usage. There's been a lot written about the F55 being used in exactly such a way, and after the trials at the football in the summer, 4K (with F55s AFAIK) is due to have quite a high profile with 4K OBs at the Sochi winter Olympics soon.

My understanding is that in that setup, it's the RAW output that gets used and sent back down the fibre - not coded XAVC. The advantage is that gives much higher flexibility at the base end, can be processed in the base unit to give various options.

If the camera we are talking about is going to be a serious competitor to the F55 - for broadcast, let alone "cinema" - it has GOT to have a RAW output.
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 07:56 PM   #6
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

I suppose Panasonic can have two distinctly different Varicam designs: the 2/3" and large sensor variety. After all, they have two now, the 2700 and the 3700, even though they're very similar.

Panasonic seems to still believe in the 2/3" camera design, and recognizes the emergence and need of the large sensor format. Sounds like a win-win to me.
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Old January 24th, 2014, 08:06 AM   #7
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

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Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
I suppose Panasonic can have two distinctly different Varicam designs: the 2/3" and large sensor variety. After all, they have two now, the 2700 and the 3700, even though they're very similar.
But historically, "Varicam" has been associated with the top end of the market, and there's no reason to believe that's going to change now. And it's there that the demand for 4K is at it's highest. Even if a potential buyer doesn't have a 4K demand at present, in this market sector there's a strong chance it will be so very soon. Currently, it makes no sense whatsoever to buy a high end 1080 only camera. (If you've already got one, and it's paying it's way, that's fine - this is talking about a new purchase.)

A year ago, I'd also have argued in favour of 2/3" having a place because of lens availability issues. But all that's changed with the advent of the high quality B4-s35 optical adaptors. Use one of those, and optically the B4 lens behaves in all respects as before, on a 2/3" sensor camera. Same angle of view range, same dof characteristics, same light sensitivity. (The higher base ISO of the larger sensor size balances the smaller effective f-stop.) But a basic large sensor design also enables shallow dof, high sensitivity etc if fast primes are used.

I'm not saying that there's no place now for 2/3" per se - rather that it's usage is likely to fast diminish in the top end of the market.

And it's the timing that seems so strange. Apple may well still be selling iphone 4's alongside iphone 5's, but do you really expect them to announce any iphone 6, then announce the iphone 7 before the 6 actually goes on sale!?! Same for any product from any manufacturer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
Panasonic seems to still believe in the 2/3" camera design, and recognizes the emergence and need of the large sensor format. Sounds like a win-win to me.
I have little doubt that 2/3" designs will continue for a long time to come. But increasingly less at the top end of the market. Hence whilst Sony may see the F65, F55/5 as their flagship models, there is still a market for such as the PMW400.

For Panasonic, they have a fairly new 2/3" model in the shape of the PX5000. It's also fairly upmarket ($24,000, body only at B&H). If the Varicam 3 ever does come to reality, expect it to be priced well above that - and at that sort of money, then nowadays I'd expect potential purchasers to be far more interested in s35 designs.

And let's have a reality check about pricing of the 4K s35 Varicam, assuming such does get announced at NAB. If the PX5000 street price at B&H is $24,000 for body only, I don't see any likelihood at all that the s35 Varicam will be less than that, probably far more. My guess would be well over $30,000 by the time you include a viewfinder - and that sounds reasonable when you look at the F55 (also body only) being about $29,000.

Don't get me wrong, I think the video division of Panasonic have got a lot wrong in the last decade or so, but now deciding to go down the s35 and 4K route may be a sign of an encouraging turnaround, albeit late to the game. But the devil is in the detail, and we need to see what is actually said at NAB. Will it have a global shutter? Will it have a RAW output? (The F55 has both.) What will the options be for using it in a live capacity, especially as it seems to be being targeted at broadcast more than "cinema"?
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Old January 24th, 2014, 02:18 PM   #8
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
Even if a potential buyer doesn't have a 4K demand at present, in this market sector there's a strong chance it will be so very soon. Currently, it makes no sense whatsoever to buy a high end 1080 only camera. (If you've already got one, and it's paying it's way, that's fine - this is talking about a new purchase.)

I'm not saying that there's no place now for 2/3" per se - rather that it's usage is likely to fast diminish in the top end of the market.

For Panasonic, they have a fairly new 2/3" model in the shape of the PX5000. It's also fairly upmarket ($24,000, body only at B&H). If the Varicam 3 ever does come to reality, expect it to be priced well above that - and at that sort of money, then nowadays I'd expect potential purchasers to be far more interested in s35 designs.

And let's have a reality check about pricing of the 4K s35 Varicam, assuming such does get announced at NAB. If the PX5000 street price at B&H is $24,000 for body only, I don't see any likelihood at all that the s35 Varicam will be less than that, probably far more. My guess would be well over $30,000 by the time you include a viewfinder - and that sounds reasonable when you look at the F55 (also body only) being about $29,000.
There doesn't seem to be any doubt that the large sensor cameras will dominate the higher end productions, if they aren't already. Can you imagine any major production company shooting a theatrical feature with a 2/3" camera anymore? The F900 days are long over.

As for why Panny released the PX5000 and new 2/3" Varicam, we can assume they think there's still a good market for them. I'm sure they've invested a lot of money to get them to the market. They're still the best option for sports and will still do a darn good job for documentaries and reality shows, certainly news programs.
Or maybe pursuing 1080, 2/3" HD cams is a dead end for Panasonic, and they've made a grievous error in judgement. Given the choice between the F5/55 or PX5000 for broadcast work, I would think most camera operators would invest in the F55. I do know of one camera op who sold his HPX2700 for an F55.

And maybe going to a 4K capable camera is the best option for anyone who works in high end productions. But don't forget, Arri is releasing the S35 shoulder-mount Amira that shoots in HD (maybe 2K?). A lot of films are still being shot with the non-4K Alexa.

Interesting tidbit: all of the films nominated for the 2014 Oscars were shot with Arri cameras, either digitally or on film. Plus a smattering of secondary Canon C300, C500s, and Phantom cams. Not one RED camera. Hmm...

And I agree, the price of the Varicams will be high. I can't see Panasonic releasing a Varicam for around $14,000. Wishful thinking.
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Old January 24th, 2014, 06:00 PM   #9
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

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Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
As for why Panny released the PX5000 and new 2/3" Varicam, we can assume they think there's still a good market for them. .............Or maybe pursuing 1080, 2/3" HD cams is a dead end for Panasonic, and they've made a grievous error in judgement.
I see the PX5000 as one thing - the Varicam 3 as quite another. I don't see pursuing 2/3", 1080 only cameras as a dead end - but not at the top of the market. So PX5000, maybe yes, the 2/3" 1080 only Varicam - no. I think the most likely explanation is that Panasonic did make an error of judgement - but realised only too well (albeit late) and are now trying to put the error right.

I think a lot of people have been caught out by just how fast the 4K movement has taken off, at least for acquisition, and trend seems set to accelerate. It's been most the case first at the top end, and now the consumer end with cameras like the AX100. That doesn't surprise me - it's following the pattern of HD a decade before, when we first saw high budget programmes being made in HD, together with the launch of such as the Z1. Mainstream broadcast was some years behind.

But "high end" production doesn't just mean "cinema" - it can just as well apply to broadcast, and such as the Olympics and Football World cup are good examples of just such prestige events. And the RAW output seems just as significant for such as it is for "cinema". That's why whether or not this Varicam will have RAW is such a key factor - even if intended for "broadcast", and not primarily for "cinema".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
And maybe going to a 4K capable camera is the best option for anyone who works in high end productions. But don't forget, Arri is releasing the S35 shoulder-mount Amira that shoots in HD (maybe 2K?). A lot of films are still being shot with the non-4K Alexa.
That's all true - at the moment. But I suspect Arri got caught out by the 4K wave as well as Panasonic. It takes time to develop and bring product to market, but it's highly likely we may soon see the "4K Alexa", and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see exactly such at NAB. It could well be that the Amira is paving the way for exactly that - allowing them to discontinue the Alexa and immediately relaunch it in 4K colours? We'll see soon enough.
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Old January 24th, 2014, 11:43 PM   #10
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

Arri has stated they are making a 4K camera. Somewhat begrudgingly, it sounded like to me.
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Old January 26th, 2014, 01:38 PM   #11
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Re: Panasonic 4K Super 35mm Varicam at NAB?

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Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
Arri has stated they are making a 4K camera. Somewhat begrudgingly, it sounded like to me.
Yeah, but they were kinda right about resolution not being everything or even the most important thing. The Alexa has about a quarter of the resolution of the Epic Dragon, but who has all the Oscar cinematography nominations (for films shot on film as well as digitally)? That's right -- Arri. Now, if the 4K Arri can oversample to the same degree that the Alexa does (5,760 pixels for 4K vs. 2,880 for 2K), can get 15-16 stops of dynamic range, and has a manageable raw solution, it will continue Arri's supremacy.
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