April 13, 2015

Sony HDC-4300 Ultra HD camera

Sony's new HDC-4300 system camera, aimed at sports and events broadcasting, is touted as “the world’s first camera to use three 2/3-inch 4K image sensors” [the Hitachi SK-UHD4000, which is already in use, has four sensors: one red, one blue and two green for extra sensitivity].

The HDC-4300 also offers up to 8x Super-Slow Motion in HD (at frame rates up to 479.52/400fps), which will make it a useful HD camera to have for today’s mainstream productions. It can do 50/60p in Ultra HD. Both the 4K and 8x capabilities are on a paid-for license (which can be bought on a weekly, monthly or permanent basis), so if you don’t need them from the start, you don’t need to pay for them until you do. It comes standard with 2x and 3x HD recording.

Having 2/3-inch sensors is important for sports production, in particular, because cameras have to follow action that can be quite a distance away (using lenses that have up to 100x magnification), where using a typical, larger sensor 4K camera means there is very little depth of field for focusing, especially if the lens is wide open, as it usually will be for games at night. Using smaller sensors, as found in all current HD system cameras, means a fast moving player is more likely to remain in focus. There is also a dynamic focus (focus-assist function) for use in UHD, where a focus point can be displayed on the viewfinder with a marker for easy focusing.

The HDC-4300 supports the same B4-mount lenses and the same control surfaces as Sony’s mainstream HDC-2000 series cameras, and the existing HDLA-1500 series, control and shading systems, viewfinders and master set-up units are all interchangeable between the HD and UHD systems. This means it offers all the same camera angles, zoom ranges and iris settings.

“This camera provides 4K capabilities and a workflow that content producers are instantly familiar and comfortable with,” said Norbert Paquet, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Professional, Sony Europe. “We’ve developed the HDC Series as a flexible platform for our customers to maximize their ROI on multiple applications. The HDC-4300 is multi-format for daily HD applications, sports on the weekends with up to 400fps, and future proof with 4K acquisition.”

It also supports the widened colour space included in the next-generation ITU-R BT.2020 broadcast standard, which will help to future proof master recordings and post-production options.

The HDC-4300 also allows for HD cut outs of two full HD images from the UHD picture in real time, including a selectable zoom and perspective mode.

Other features include: Auto lens aberration compensation 2 (ALAC2); Colour reproduction adjustment; Gamma table selection; User gamma; Natural skin-tone detail; Knee saturation; and Low-key saturation.

The HDC-4300 should be available this Summer, and is likely to cost about $80,000.

Note: Ultra HD (3840x2160) is four times the resolution of HD (1920x1080), although Sony calls both UHD and Cinema 4K (the Digital Cinema Initiative standard, which is 4096x2160), 4K just to confuse matters - or rather, so as not to confuse consumers of its 4K (UHD) televisions. So, it is just possible that the HDC-4300 can also shoot 4096x2160, but as UHD will be the broadcast standard this is unlikely - however, Sony hasn’t revealed the full specifications yet.

4 times the security

In other NAB news, Sony has announced its first Ultra HD security camera, the SNC-VM772R, which boasts excellent sensitivity in low light (down to 0.1 lux - there is also a built-in infrared light source for night time shooting).

It has a single 1-inch back Illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor, and uses bandwidth optimization (for streaming the pictures back to base over limited bandwidth) and intelligent scene capture to improve picture quality. It also has a 2.9x motorized zoom lens with optical image stabilization. An Evidence Shot mode lets users see critical moments in the camera’s highest resolution of 20MP in still shot mode - 2.4x more pixel resolution than UHD.

“4K is the new video security standard,” said Katsunori Yamanouchi, Vice President, Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “But 4K imaging is about more than just increased resolution. It’s also expanding the application potential of security cameras and helping to transform security and surveillance. The increased resolution covers a larger area, improving situational awareness and ensuring nothing is missed. These benefits help security professionals reduce installation and operating costs as fewer cameras are needed for specific areas.”

By David Fox

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