April 07, 2014

Panasonic VariCam 4K + high speed

Panasonic has launched two new VariCam models: the VariCam 35 (shooting 4K Raw) and the high-speed (HD) VariCam HS.

The PL-mount VariCam 35 (AU-V35C1) uses a newly-developed super 35mm MOS image sensor (4096x2160 - 17:9) and can shoot 4K, UHD, 2K and HD, making it suitable for high-end filmmaking, commercials and episodic production as well as live 4K events.

Besides offering 4K RAW output, which requires an external recorder and produces huge files, the VariCam 35 can also record 4K, UHD, 2K and HD using Panasonic’s AVC-ULTRA codecs for more manageable production file sizes.

Its sensor boasts an impressive 14+ stops of latitude (about equal to an Arri Alexa), and is claimed to faithfully capture high-contrast, wide dynamic range imagery “without compromise”. It also has improved colour management capabilities to provide a much extended colour gamut for greater image fidelity, and supports the ACES (Academy Colour Encoding System) workflow for mastering.

 Highly variable…

The VariCam HS is the third generation HD VariCam since the introduction of the original in 2001, and can record at up to 240 frames per second. It uses a modular design, where the camera head can be separated from the recording module, so that users can switch between super35 and 2/3-inch heads as needed.

The AU-V23HS1 high-speed camera head is aimed at documentaries, sports or SFX slow-motion applications, and has three 1920x1080 MOS imagers with 14 stops of dynamic range, and 1080p native recording, with the ability to ramp or change frame rates during record. It also has 24-bit LPCM audio and various creative image controls (such as matrix, detail, gammas and a new Log recording capability).

It offers a range of recording formats, including: AVC-Intra Class100 (recording as 1080/24p, 25/30p or 50/60p format) with variable frame rates (up to 240p); AVC-Intra Class200 (up to 30p/60i); and AVC-Intra Class4:4:4 (up to 30p - 240Mbps 10-bit 4:4:4). Both AVC-Intra Class200 and AVC-Intra Class4:4:4 deliver improved performance in applications where image quality is the primary consideration.

Catching the 4K express

Panasonic has also introduced the next generation of P2 solid-state recording media at NAB: the expressP2 card. This is specifically designed to accommodate 4K image capture, and offers fast transfer speeds (up to 2.4Gbps.), meaning an hour of 4K footage can be transferred within about ten minutes.

The expressP2 card AU-XP0256A contains a flash memory error correction system, equivalent to a RAID system, to recover from a failure in a sector, page, or entire block. It can be used in the new expressP2 card drive (AU-XPD1) to facilitate the fast offload of material at up to 2.4Gbps.

By David Fox

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