Sony HDC-4300 on FastTrack for NBC

NEW YORK—For this year’s Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, NBC Sports used several of Sony’s HD and 4K cameras, including one of their newest models, the HDC-4300.

The Derby is a massive show, and we strive to get every bit of performance out of our cameras that we can. This year was our first time using the 4300 for a live event, so we certainly put it through the paces.

We found it to be an impactful tool for high-quality replay and specialty program effects with 3x, 4x, 6x, and 8x progressive high-frame rates at HD resolution; and 2x frame rate at 4K resolution. We were also impressed looking at 4K using the Sony PWS- 4400 server’s crop and zoom capabilities.

To test the camera’s overall picture quality and high-speed usage we placed it inside the Churchill Downs track near the finish line, outfitted with a Canon XJ95X8.6B IE-D lens. We experimented with all available modes: 3x, 6x, 8x speeds and then in 4K. We ended up using 8x for our Friday and Saturday Derby coverage.

Sony HDC-4300

The new camera is very sensitive, and it allowed us to get back to a decent lens aperture even when running at 8x. This, plus the 2/3-inch true 4K sensor, enabled our camera operator Gary Mosley to work with a depth of field closer to that of the previous generations of HD cameras. Our Senior Video Operator Tom Gamble was really pleased with how easy it was to match the 4300 to the other Sony HDC-2500’s we were using; making fast adjustments second-nature from an operator’s point of view.

Inside the production truck, we experimented with Sony’s new PWS-4400 XAVC server, which captured and stored all the 4300’s high-speed HD and 4K modes in high quality XAVC, plus its ability to crop and zoom on both HD and 4K images. The new 4400 is easy to operate and adapt to from an EVS mentality. We also successfully tested with an EVS XT3 server recording at 6x speed using 3G connections.

We recently launched our new “NASCAR on NBC” coverage and are using two 4300 cameras at 6x speed and two at 4x feeding into two EVS’s. These same cameras are intercut live with all the other “normal” speed cameras, so this truly benefits the production team as they don’t require multiple cameras for real-time coverage and super slow motion. We also plan to use two 4300s on our NEP “Sunday Night Football” truck this fall.

The new 4300 camera has a very quiet and silky look, whether being used in 1x or all the way up to 8x speed. All in all, we were very happy with the results. The camera looked great in every mode we tested it in. The best thing I can say is it looked just like a Sony.

Craig Bernstein, director of remote technical operations for NBC Sports, oversees on location technical activities for NBC and NBCSN’s remote programming. To reach Craig, call 203-356-7000 or

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