Filmmakers, technicians and press filled the main theater at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles for Panasonic’s unveiling of its new VariCam LT – a scaled-down and lower-cost version of their VariCam 35 4K camera, which they introduced around this time in 2014. That camera has been used on a number of shows, including Orange is the New Black and Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo.
This camera offers the same (“dual native” 800 or 5000 ISO) 4K sensor with a claimed 14 stops of dynamic range, but the body weighs in at six pounds, just a hair over half of the VariCam 35 4K. While its big brother comes as a two-piece camera-head-plus-recorder configuration, the LT is a single unit with Codex recorder built in.
The LT comes with the widely used Canon EF mount and a PL adapter for traditional cinema glass is available as a separate accessary – as is a hand grip and a OLED EVF (electronic viewfinder). The camcorder records to expressP2 cards and also has a small slot to simultaneously capture AVC-ULTRA 6 megabit/sec Long GOP H.264 HD 1920×1080 proxies.
After the unveiling of the camera, cinematographer Dejan Georgovich, ASC, spoke about his use of the VariCam 35 4K earlier in the year to shoot the pilot for 1980s period rock and roll series, Once in a Lifetime, the brainchild of Iron Maiden’s Stephen Harris. It was the 5000 ISO that had particularly impressed him. He then ran a short narrative film he’d subsequently shot on the new LT, which demonstrated the sensor’s versatility with some very bright scenes, shot at the lower ISO and some very dark environments using the 5000 ISO.
Following the initial presentation, attendees were able to pick up and try out LTs for themselves and to check out Georgovich’s footage as it looked re-mastered (via OSD color corrector) for HDR, where the sensor’s ability to hold detail in extremes of light and dark could be perceived in even greater detail.
The Varicam LT ships at the end of march and will retail for $18,000 (body only) and $24,000 when bundled with the AU-VCVF10G viewfinder.