JVC develops handheld 4K camcorder

Long known for making compact cameras that are less expensive than competing models while still offering good quality HD pictures, JVC Professional Products Company has done it again; this time for video production professionals working with very high-quality (up to 4K) imagery. The company has announced a handheld 4K camera for under $5,000, which should bring high-resolution acquisition within reach of a broader community of productions.

After conducting a number of 4K forums throughout North America last year, JVC has used that feedback to develop a 4K and HD imaging system that feels like a traditional video camera that can be easily handheld. In fact, it’s similar in size to JVC’s GY-HM150 ProHD camcorder, which is popular with broadcasters for their ENG fieldwork and HD newscast studios.

Using MPEG-4 technology and a variable bit rate H.264 codec operating at up to 144 Mbps, the GY-HMQ10 records up to two hours of 4K video to standard SDHC or SDXC memory cards. In addition to 4K imaging, the camcorder also captures and records 1080i or 1080/60p HD images on a single memory card that’s ready for file-based editing.

The GY-HMQ10 is part of a larger move at JVC to bring 4K technology to a wide range of customers, according to Edgar Shane, general manager of engineering at JVC Professional Products Company, in Wayne, N.J. In September 2011, JVC introduced an affordable line of 4K projectors to the home theater market, and the company’s high-end

4K projectors are widely used in commercial flight simulators and planetariums.

The new camcorder—available in March—captures, records, and plays video images at four times the resolution of HD (1080p/60) with the company’s Falconbrid large-scale integration (LSI) chip on 1/2-inch CMOS imager. It facilitates high-speed signal processing with 8.3 million active pixels, and, according to the company, delivers real-time 3840x2160 footage at 24p, 50p, or 60p.

JVC’s Shane said that heretofore the ability to capture, process, display and record full 4K images in real time has not been available to the typical shooter. High-resolution still picture imaging has been possible in DSLR cameras, however, full motion video capture with these cameras has always been done at a lower video resolution because of a lack of processing power. Likewise, he said, high-end digital motion picture cameras may capture 4K images, but often provide a raw data output to an external storage array for later processing (again, due to inadequate processing power inside the camera).

JVC’s exclusive Falconbrid LSI processing solves this problem by taking raw image data from the camera’s CMOS device and dematrixing (“deBayering”) it in real time. Unlike existing 4K cameras, the GY-HMQ10 is able to output these high-resolution images to a monitor or projection system in real time with virtually no latency.

One feature requested by customers was the ability to crop an HD image from a 4K frame. This can be accomplished in postproduction or in real time during camera playback. A built-in “trimming” feature makes HD cropping easy using the camera’s touch panel LCD monitor.

The GY-HMQ10 includes a build-in F2.8 10x zoom lens with optical image stabilizer, as well as a color viewfinder and 3.5-inch touch LCD monitor with a new, intuitive user interface. The GY-HMQ10 is built in a familiar, comfortable and lightweight form factor for hours of field production with minimum fatigue. The camera is includes manual level controls for audio, with audio metering in the LCD and viewfinder displays. A microphone holder and two balanced XLR connectors with phantom power are located on the handle. The camera is also equipped with a built-in stereo mic for ambient sound pickup.

Other features include JVC’s patented Focus Assist, as well as manual and auto control of focus, iris, gain, shutter, gamma, color matrix, and white balance. In addition, the camera has the unusual capability of live 4K output via four HDMI terminals.