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Here’s the News on All the New Cameras

Advances from Sony, Panasonic, RED, Canon, Blackmagic Design, and more

Introduced this year as an optional extra for those wanting to upscale, 8K is well on its way to being a permanent fixture on the roadmap (if not the ultimate destination).

Read more: Your 8K Ecosystem is Almost Ready 

Read more: 8K: So Where Do We Go From Here?

Read more: Research Project: How Seriously Should We Take 8K?

The 8K production ecosystem continues to grow. While there are additional storage and postproduction costs to consider, a growing number of prestige dramas are being acquired beyond 4K: Homecoming S2 (Amazon), Money Heist (Netflix) and Snowpiercer (TNT) among them.

One reason is the trend among cinematographers to use anamorphic lenses, in large part to negate the pristine sharpness of the digital image. In order to de-squeeze the anamorphic image and still deliver a 4K master to premium SVODs it is necessary to capture at a higher than 4K resolution.

Read more: The Case for 8K Production and How to Manage That Monster Data

Homecoming, for example, shot with DXL2, the RED Monstro sensor given Light Iron color science, in 8K to accommodate anamorphic glass.

The second season of Amazon’s “Homecoming” was captured in 8K. Courtesy of Amazon Studios
The second season of Amazon’s “Homecoming” was captured in 8K. Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Recently RED was teasing the launch of a new Super 35 6K camera supporting anamorphic. The latest video, landing early April, was shared by company co-owner Jarred Land on Facebook and was a short clip shot on the Komodo of Brad Pitt promoting Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for the AFI Movie Club. A later post demonstrated the camera’s Phase Detection Autofocus capabilities with Land adding that the company still had “miles and miles to go” to perfect the AF.

Other specs for Komodo which seem solid: it has a fixed Canon RF mount (with adapter options), is capable of 6K at 40 fps and will record to CFast 2.0 cards (that would be the first RED model to use non-proprietary media). It’s thought to be the developer’s smallest model of camera to date.

We shouldn’t expect an imminent release—but who knows with RED since their marketing is more about being maverick than following the rules.

Regular updates have been key to the adoption of the Sony Venice since launch in 2017 and there is evidence that Hollywood has taken note. Snowpiercer and Netflix’ drama Hollywood have photographed using the camera. Sony has widely promoted James Cameron’s use of the Venice (in its snorkel mode) for production of the new Avatars.

Read more: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: The Lights, Camera(s) and Action for the Ryan Murphy Series

Version 6.0 firmware due in November allows for importing of Advanced Rendering Transform (.art) files for improved monitoring picture quality on-set. These files can be generated by Sony’s RAW Viewer software, from users’ own 3D LUT files. Sony has made its SDK available to other developers.

Jennifer Connolly in TNT’s “Snowpiercer.” Photo by Justina Mintz
Jennifer Connolly in TNT’s “Snowpiercer.” Photo by Justina Mintz

Accompanying the ART feature will be a “Look Library,” jointly developed by Sony and Technicolor. It will initially consist of five Looks for a Rec. 709 target display and will be available free of charge concurrently with the 6.0 firmware release.

Another enhancement is the ability to shoot with a second user frame line. This enables cinematographers to take advantage of the camera’s large sensor size to shoot for both horizontal and vertical distribution within the same composition—something that will prove useful on shows shot for mobile platform Quibi.

Available for license (activated by purchasing unlock keys from Sony) are expanded HFR capabilities up to 72fps at 5.7K 16:9 and 110fps 3.8K 16:9 to simplify post-production of slow-motion for TV drama workflows that require quick turnarounds. Also unlocked: up to 72fps at 4K in 6:5 imager mode for anamorphic operation.

Sony’s PXW-FX9

Sony’s FX9, launched last year, brought full-frame imaging to “run-and-gun,” documentary and indie productions including the same color science as the Venice but without full DCI 4K. That’s amended in new firmware released in October (free for existing users).

Full 4K DCI (4096×2160) is supported in both full frame and Super35 modes through oversampling from a 5K cropped area of the 6K full-frame sensor up to 60 fps. Used in Full HD the camera can achieve up to 180 fps.

Read more: Sony’s Venice and FX9 Updates/Upgrades: Firmware, HFR, 4K Recording

The FX9 also enables output of a 4K 16-bit RAW signal to an external recorder with an optional accessory (XDCA-FX9) and a compatible recorder. The ability to shoot 10-bit is a bonus for colorists, as it gives you more color data and depth to work with in post.

Other goodies in the v2.0 firmware include the ability to load user 3D LUTs via an SD card; support for HDR format Hybrid Log Gamma; and human Eye Autofocus.

Support for Apple ProRes RAW is being widely implemented. This supports delivers the flexibility of RAW video with the performance of ProRes in a format ideal for high-dynamic-range (HDR) content creation. For now, ProRes RAW can be edited and graded in software including Final Cut Pro X, Assimilate Scratch or Filmlight Baselight with Adobe expected to support the format natively this year.

Users of Panasonic’s Lumix S1H users can put May 25 in their diary for a ProRes RAW update. This functionality has been developed with Australia’s Atomos and pairs the Ninja V HDR monitor-recorder with the full-frame mirrorless camera to record 5.9K 12-bit 30fps ProRes RAW files direct from the camera’s sensor via HDMI. RAW files can also be recorded in Full-frame, or 4K 60 fps in Super35.

Panasonic’s LUMIX S1H full frame mirrorless cinema camera
Panasonic’s LUMIX S1H full frame mirrorless cinema camera

Read more: Atomos Ninja V Enables 5.9K Apple ProRes RAW Recording for Panasonic LUMIX S1H With Free Update

The resulting files allow for greater creativity in post with “perfect skin tones and easily matched colors”, for HDR workflows.

Canon is lining up an 8K mirrorless shooter for later this year promising a new designed CMOS sensor. The EOS R5 will be a stills and video DSLR costing around $3,5000 and able to shoot 8K and 4K in 4:2:2 10-bit using Canon Log (H.265) or HDR PQ and 4K at 120fps, for slow-mo footage.

According to Canon, having the ability to shoot in 8K will allow users to extract oversampled 4K video and pull “high-resolution still images from video footage”.

Canon’s EOS R5

Giving everyone a run for its money is Chinese manufacturer Kinefinity. The firm’s new MAVO Edge ups the ante by offering 8K at 75fps recorded internally on ProRes RAW for an enticing sub $12K on launch in September.

The camera may be more useful for higher frame rate 4K. In full-frame (8192 x 5456) mode the camera will derive 6K or 4K images by downsampling from 8K so you can capture 6K at 100 fps or 4K at 160 fps. There are dual Native ISOs (800 and 3200) and, alongside ProRes Raw there’s support for other ProRes types like 422 HQ, DCI and a H.264 proxy option.

Kinefinity’s MAVO Edge camera

All this data needs some hefty storage lifting for which Kinefinity has upgraded its KineMAG system from SATA 3.0 to NVMe M.2. The new KineMAG Nano uses the PCIe 3.0 protocol to handle recordings up to 10Gb/s.  Dual slots permit a pair of Nanos to record the same clips simultaneously, Additionally, the company is offering KineMAG Nano enclosures so that users can install their own third part NVMe M.2 SSDs if they want to save on costs.

The camera comes with a motorized full-spectrum e-ND filter covering the range from 2 to 7 stops for smoother iris adjustments. A three-axis gyroscope enables recording of spatial positioning information, valuable for VFX and virtual camera productions.

Even though it’s a tidy 1.2kg it packs all the I/O and connectivity options you might need including two video ports for viewfinder and external monitoring and even by live H64 stream; the ability to hot-swap batteries; and separate genlock and timecode sync ports for syncing multiple cameras

Systems Cameras

Live broadcast of 8K was knocked back when the Tokyo Games was shifted a year. TV set makers like Sharp were banking on the visibility of 8K Olympic content to shift 8K panels in the US and Japan.

Attention to 8K broadcasting will switch to the UK when the new 2020/21 English Premier League soccer season kicks-off. Due to start end of July (though the new season could be delayed) BT Sport will be covering select domestic matches, plus select European Champions League games, live in 8K.

It has already tested this using equipment including Ikegami SHK-810 and Sony UHC-8300 8K cameras with Fujinon lenses.

Most broadcasters and outside broadcast facilities will purchase 8K camera inventory only when their legacy camera fleet needs replacing and if they are persuaded of the argument to future-proof their investment.

More of an argument can be made for systems that cover 8K for a lower resolution extraction, for automated coverage or zoom-in analysis. One of these is Panasonic’s 8K ROI (Region of Interest) camera, due for release this summer. The single 8K cameras serves as four HD cameras to improve operational efficiency and reduce operating costs. Multiple ROI systems can be linked for wider multi-angle coverage—an application that might come into its own in a post-pandemic world where the number of staff at live events needs to be pared back.

Fellow Japanese manufacturer Hitachi contends that existing 8K camera sensors are all limited in dynamic range and sensitivity. It argues that pixel size must be much smaller than those of 4K and HD cameras to accommodate 8K’s higher resolution.

It is debuting the SK-UHD8060B, new 8K camera that deploys a CMOS image sensor with organic photoconductive film (OPF). This technology, Hitachi claims, leads to a 400 percent boost in dynamic range, maximizing the effectiveness of support for the HLG HDR.

The camera supports PL-mount lenses and it can be paired with a dockable recorder that uses a visually lossless codec, avoiding “the time-consuming, post-acquisition processing typically required with RAW 8K recording approaches.”

Hitachi states that all of this make it suitable not only for studio and OB applications but also for cinematography “when combined with an appropriate lens and recorder.”

Additional 4K Developments

Panasonic has released a major firmware update for its AG-CX350 4K camcorder for both news and documentary shooters. The two key features of v3.02 are the inclusion of P2 HD format recording, and the addition of V-Log to capture wide dynamic range.

P2 should help make the CX350 more available for news groups, and their stringers and production companies in local markets, who work with local stations. P2 HD codecs use the MXF (Material eXchange Format) wrapper, which is supported by all the major NLE programs.

The addition of V-Log adds a new dimension to the CX350, especially for documentaries. Documentaries will often use a number of cameras to shots. For example, Panasonic’s cinema camera EVA1 can capture cinematic shallow depth of field while the CX350’s 20x zoom might capture dynamic action shots. With both cameras capturing in V-Log, it will be easier to match the look of both cameras in an NLE timeline.

The Ikegami UHL-430 camera outputs 4K via 12G-SDI for studio or outdoor production. It houses three 2/3-inch 8-megapixel CMOS sensors and is equipped with a B4 bayonet mount compatible with 2/3 inch UHD and HD lenses. An optional SE-U430 expander accommodates large studio or OB lenses.

kegami’s UHL-43 camera

Also from Ikegami is the UHL-43, which also employs the same three CMOS sensors but inside of a camera housing for robotic studio work. It supports HDR conforming to the ITU-R BT.2100 standard for HDR.

Blackmagic Design Announces New Low Price for Pocket Cinema Camera 6K
Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Blackmagic Design has reduced the cost of its Pocket Cinema Camera 6K by $500 to sub-$2000. It has also made the 6K and 4K PCC versions compatible with live production in tandem with BMD’s ATEM Mini switchers. Switcher control of up to four cameras and its parameters, lens and tally light via an HDMI connection enable a professional live studio workflow. It’s a package Blackmagic is angling at the current demand for multi camera live streaming from home broadcast studios.

Read more: Blackmagic Design Announces New Low Price for Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Grass Valley has launched the LDX 100, described as a high speed, native UHD camera built specifically for IP workflows. It connects into the contribution network, eliminating the need for an external control unit.

HDR is now ubiquitous in the broadcast studio and shoulder camcorder line-ups of the major broadcast camera brands. The aim now is to simplify workflows to ensure operators are as comfortable using HDR as they are with standard dynamic range production.