HotCam’s Technical Supervisor Daniel Farmer went to NAB to check on new camera developments, and found that higher resolution camera bodies and external recorders are the way forward.
Sony started by releasing their new cinema camera, the F65. This camera boasts an 8k sensor that currently records at 4k to the rear mounted SR-R1 solid state HDCAM SR recorder.
As far as the compression goes there were some mixed voices. The camera will output 16 bit RAW but all I specifically got out of their Engineer (who only spoke Japanese) was that the recordings are “visually lossless” which probably means 4k resolution at 880mb SR compression.
Other great features include an optional mechanical shutter that eliminates problems such as picture “sway” with CMOS sensors.
The camera is also capable of 1-72fps recording at full res and 1-120fps at 2k, which is quite a step forward in high frame rates at high resolution without needing a specialty camera.
At the lower end of the market Sony released the NEXFS100U. This camera appears to be in direct competition with Panasonics AF100 camera coming in at a sales price of around $5,500USD.
The major advantage of this camera is the sensor. It has exactly the same Super
35mm CMOS sensor as the Sony F3 but - as is the case with the AF100 - it records in AVCHD.
The major downside is the output. It has no HD SDI option. Instead they’ve gone with HDMI. Which is not ideal but most external recorders support this input nowadays. The big question was: will there be a locking connector? The short answer was no.
The NEXFS100U supports Sony E-Mount natively however due to its shallow flange depth there are adapters available for any 35mm sized lenses. The supplied zoom lens however should probably be replaced immediately as it is extremely slow at f3.5-f6.3.
For recording you can use either standard SD cards, Sony’s Memory Stick Duos or a detachable 128Gb Flash Drive.
On the XDCAM front Sony are releasing a triple layer 100Gb disc. Now, as you may remember, last year they announced the 128Gb disc, the major drawback of which was that it was write once for archiving.
This new 100Gb disc is a re-writable disc. The biggest question mark over this however was can it be used in camera. Again I got a ‘no’ but was told they are working on it as everyone had asked the same question. Fingers crossed..
That’s right, although it wasn’t a focus for HotCam this year it certainly isn’t going away with all the major manufacturers releasing new cameras.
Sony had two of note, the first being PMW-TD300 Shoulder mount 3D ENG camera. The above lens adjustment ring controls convergence as well as focus and zoom, however there is a zoom rocker on the opposite side of the lens as well.
The camera has a total of four SxS slots for recording XDCAM EX to two cards per
eye or four slots for 2D recording.
The other 3D camera in lineup is the NX-3D1. This camera records to a single SD Card for both left and right eye and the 3D image can be viewed and adjusted on the LCD without the need for glasses.
This is the future of display. The new range of BVM and PVM OLED production
models are available in 71” and 25” models and in terms of critical viewing these are the best I have seen since the days of CRT and quite surpass them.
I also managed to sneak in somewhere I shouldn’t have and got a glimpse at a
40” 4k OLED monitor, which was amazing. But more on 4k later.
Not a lot new here but further support for 3D and P2. Their big push seemed to
be on the codec front where they continued to tout the advantages of P2
recording AVC-Intra and the new AVC-Ultra, 1920x1080 (50p / 59.94p) 4:2:2
10bit 1920x1080 (24p) and 2K (24p) 4:4:4 12bit. But no camera with AVC-Ultra has been announced yet.
They did have the AG-HPX250 which is a handycam P2 camera recording 10-BIT,
4:2:2 AVC-Intra which may compete with Canons XF-305. The price drop in
P2 cards will help this along.
They also had a new 3D shooter, the AG-3DP1. This camera records AVC-Intra onto P2 cards but utilizes 3 x 1/3” COMS sensors (3MOS in Panasonic terms). The smaller sensor is not only economical but gives you a wider depth of field, which is extremely useful when shooting 3D in this style. The lens has Focus, Zoom and Iris rings which, personally, I like and gives it an advantage over the Sony model.
A new 9” BT-LH910 monitor was also on display, which along with its increase in size and resolution over older models, also now supports 3G and 3D. The interesting feature in 3D is that the monitor rapidly switches display between the left and right eye so convergence can be adjusted without the use of
glasses. This is not good for long-term viewing but is extremely helpful.
And finally, Panasonic have released a full production P2 deck with 3D support and all the trimmings. Need I say more?
The big release from Convergent is the Genesis. Very thin and extremely lightweight, it strictly records video uncompressed so it’s just a data stream. No encoding. It will record HD formats as well as 2k in 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 in dual stream. It also supports S-Log so out of one output you can view the S-Log raw and a LUT for reference. The Genesis records to standard SSD’s and will take two for recording dual stream or single stream across both including S-Log on one and LUT on the other.
This is great for users of Arri’s Alexa and Sony’s F65 or 35 but the only way we would get involved with it is possibly for high end PMW-F3 shoots. But it is a wonderful device regardless.
I enquired about the future of the Nano and if we would ever see the XDR Drive
come back. The Nano is going to move forward unchanged but there was nothing on the XDR although I was told they may have some refurbished XDRs in the factory. This was interesting as the XLR inputs and Timecode with Reference has been needed in some situations.
Sound Devices had a huge unveiling with the PIX240 Video/Audio recorder. Not only is this unit compact and lightweight it’s on board heat sync is quiet and efficient.
The unit has HD SDI as well as HDMI inputs on the digital side but also has the
coveted XLR inputs and my sought after audio delay plus two channel through put. Additionally there was Ambient Timecde input for Timecode and reference.
In terms of the recording format the PIX will record 8 or 10 bit 4:2:2 in Apple
ProRes or Avid DNxHD for cross platform compatibility and reliable high quality
The device records onto either a Compact Flash Card or a SSD attached to a
docking station for high speed transfers.
The new 2 channel Mix Pre Digital is also interesting as it features digital audio
out and a USB connection so it can be used as a sound card for your computer.
Moving to the next sound booth was what could have been the biggest hit of the show. The Nomad.
This new bad boy of the Audio Field Recording world has six independent programmable faders, six mic/line level XLR inputs, four line level camera return or mix inputs plus an optional six digital input making this a 16 input mixer recorder.
It features 12 recording tracks onto CF cards and has a built in Zaxnet IFB transmitter for Zaxcom IFB receivers. Full timecode support is also available with visual TC Slate readout for quick camera reference. It also supports a USB Modem for wireless file transfer.
All of this and a ton more in a chassis no much bigger and no heavier than a
788T w/console. This is certainly worth a look.
Those people that thought we were settling in to 1080 HD had better brace themselves. Among the myriad of 2k and 4k displays I found, buried under glass with no light at the JVC booth, a camera that shoots 4K!
Obviously I have my reservations but plenty of people were discussing Ultra HD
or UHD as a viable format.
If you are worried about the compression on your new high res handycam,
DSLR or other low cost camera then there is a low cost recorder that might be right up your alley.
Atomos comes in either SDI(Samurai) or HDMI(Ninja) and both record ProRes to an SSD.
Fastec have a nifty little device. It’s a camera that runs at about $30k but you can mount a wide variety of lenses on it, it has a large rear LCD for viewing and playback oh, and I forgot to mention, that it will record up to 720fps in 720p! So reality shows who needs a Phantom? No tech required or any additional crew and it records images RAW or as AVI files so quality is maintained. I want one!
Daniel Farmer is Technical Supervisor for HotCam in New York.
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