Details Released for Panasonic’s New 4K RAW ‘VariCam 35’ and High-Speed ‘VariCam HS’ (240fps)

4K is the way of the future, or so it would seem with many major industry players moving their ranges into this higher resolution; some going further into 6K (Red Dragon) or even 8K cameras. And just when were had finished wrapping our heads around the difference between 1080p and 1080i! Not to be outdone, Panasonic have released the details of two new cameras planned to debut this coming April at NAB 2014.

The most anticipated of the two is easily the 4K VariCam 35 (AU-V35C1), which has a 35mm MOS sensor and shoots in 4K, UHD, 2K and HD. A prototype for the camera has been around for some time now and Panasonic have been hard at work on preparing a production model in time for NAB.

The second camera is a high-speed little brother to the VC35 the VariCam HS (AU-V23HS1), which has a 2/3 CMOS sensor and shoots up to 240 fps at 1080p.

An interesting feature worth mentioning is the ability to interchange control modules and link both cameras to the same recording module unit; as stated in the VC35 press release:

“With its innovative design, the 4K camera module unit (AU-V35C1) is separate but dockable to the recording module unit (AU-VREC1), which is also interchangeable with Panasonic’s new 2/3” camera module unit (AU-V23HS1)…This system flexibility can be expanded with an umbilical cable between the s35mm 4K camera and the AVC-ULTRA recorder, providing “box” camera functionality for jibs, cranes and other “remote” camera needs. This common recorder module is also interchangeable with Panasonic’s new 2/3” 1080p camera, enabling professionals to switch between s35mm and 2/3” camera heads to best suit their creative needs”

Panasonic’s move into 4K RAW is no surprise for those who follow the 4K tech-train with Kunihko Miyagi, (president of the company’s imaging division) promising at last years 2013 NAB: “We are developing a 4K system — a whole set of products — to allow for affordable 4K production,” he said. “Everything we make in HD will be 4K”.

It’s an intelligent decision for the company in order to not be left behind, and a promise they are standing by, with the recent announcement of their latest DSLR, the 4K mirrorless GH4; which will go head-to-head with Nikon’s upcoming D4S (also a 4K DSLR).

However, in reference to the current market 4K cinema cameras (like the new Sony F65, the RED Epic range or the BlackMagic Design’s Production Camera) Miyagi had this to say:

“At the high end of acquisition, there are already many products on offer. There is a huge missing link in product needed to create 4K content besides that of cinema. The direction we are coming from is to rationalize the 4K workflow and make it as cost effective as possible”.

There’s still no word on a release date for the VC35 or VCHS, so it will be quite a wait before we can get our hands on one for review.
Now onto the camera specs.

 

VariCam 35

The VC35 sports a 35mm MOS sensor for 4096 x 2160 (17:9 True 4K recording), has 14+ stops of latitude, variable speeds in 4K recording (up to 120 fps) proving the capability for master level 2K/FHD recording; and advanced workflows with parallel simultaneous 4K/ UHD, reference 2K/HD and proxy recordings for in-camera on-set color grading and monitoring / editing ease; in addition there is support for ACES workflows. The camera also features a newly-developed OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) with optical zoom functionality. Lastly, 24-bit LPCM audio is added for in-camera audio master recording.

The VC35 will use Panasonic’s new expressP2 card for high frame rate and 4K recording.  The camera is equipped with a total of four memory card slots, two for expressP2 cards and two for microP2 cards. The new expressP2 card can record up to 130 minutes of 4K/24p content (see press release here).  The microP2 card is designed for recording HD or 2K at more typical production frame rates.

Professional interfaces include:  3G-HD-SDI x4 for 4K QUAD output; 3G-HD-SDI x2 for RAW output; an HD-SDI out for monitoring (down-converting from 4K); and two XLR inputs to record four channels of 24-bit, 48KHz audio. A multi-connector facilitates docking the camera head to the recording module. In another striking design innovation, the VariCam 35 boasts a removable control panel to facilitate real-time control and easy access when the camera is in a fixed position. The VariCam 35 features a standard 35mm PL mount.

 

 

Specs for the VariCam 35:

  • 4096 x 2160 Super 35mm CMOS sensor
  • 14+ Stops of Dynamic Range
  • PL Mount
  • Internal 4K up to 120fps
  • Records 4K & UHD in AVC-ULTRA 4K
  • Records 2K & HD in AVC-Intra 100/200
  • Capable of 4K RAW
  • 1.5 to 6 Mbps Proxies
  • Two expressP2 card slots (Record 130 minutes of 4K/24p with these cards)
  • Two microP2 card slots (for HD and 2K)
  • Four 3G-HD-SDI Outputs for 4K QUAD
  • Two 3G-HD-SDI Outputs for RAW
  • HD-SDI out for monitoring (down-converting from 4K)
  • Two XLR inputs can record four channels of 24-bit, 48KHz audio
  • Removable Control Panel
  • OLED Viewfinder with Optical Zoom
  • Availability: Fall 2014
  • Price: TBA

 
Panasonic on the VariCam 35 “Is the demand for 4K there yet?”

 

VariCam HS

“Building on the esteemed VariCam legacy of breathtaking image rendition and versatile off-speed effects, this next-generation modular design will deliver unprecedented flexibility to users, who can move between the worlds of sports, documentary, and other content creation with extraordinary ease and efficiencies,” said Steve Cooperman, Product Manager, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America.

Featuring an innovative modular design, the VCHS 2/3” camera head docks with the AVC-ULTRA recording module to provide the full functionality and ergonomics of a conventional production camera/recorder. The VCHS utilizes three newly-developed, 1920 x 1080p MOS imagers with an extraordinary 14 stops of dynamic range, providing full control over wide range lighting conditions for unparalleled 1080p native recording/operation. The camera/recorder boasts a classical RGB imager/prism system that provides equi-band full resolution color processing for critical applications. Among the camcorder’s key features are real-time high frame rate and off-speed recording to 240fps in 1080p (using AVC-Intra Class100), AVC-Intra Class200 (up to 30p/60i) and AVC-Intra Class4:4:4 (up to 30p); plus the ability to ramp / change frame rates during record. To complement the impressive video quality, the new VC HS boasts 24-bit LPCM audio capabilities. Powerful yet creative image controls such as matrix, detail, gammas and a new Log recording capability, allow precise, powerful creative control over image parameters.  

The VCHS will use Panasonic’s new expressP2 card for high frame rate recording (frame rates above 60fps). The camera recording module unit is equipped with a total of four memory card slots, two for expressP2 cards and two for microP2 cards. The new expressP2 card can record about 32 minutes of 240p 1080 HD video. The microP2 card is designed for recording HD or 2K at more typical production frame rates. Addressing the need for high-speed file exchange, the VC HS encodes high-resolution proxy files in parallel with higher bandwidth production formats, enabling fast, efficient offline editing, at bit rates from 6 Mbps down to 1.5Mbps.

Professional interfaces include: RGB4:4:4; a 3G-HD-SDI out to support 1080/60p, an HD-SDI out for monitoring; and two XLR inputs to record four channels of 24-bit, 48KHz audio. A multi-connector facilitates docking the camera head to the recording module. In another innovative design addition, the VCHS boasts a removable control panel to facilitate real-time control and easy menu access when the camera is in a fixed or remote position. The camera’s 2/3” B4 lens mount enables use of a remarkable variety of prime lenses and servo zooms, lensing possibilities simply not available on larger formats.

 

Panasonic-Varicam-HS

Specs for the VariCam HS:

  • Three 1920 x 1080 2/3″ CMOS Sensors (Red, Green, Blue)
  • 14 Stops of Dynamic Range
  • AVC-Intra Class 100 at 1080/24p/30p/60p with VFR (up to 240p)
  • AVC-Intra Class 200 up to 1080/30p/60i
  • 12-bit AVC-Intra Class 4:4:4 up to 1080/30p
  • 1.5 to 6 Mbps Proxies
  • Log, FilmRec, VideoRec and Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS) image contrast management controls
  • Two expressP2 card slots (32 minutes of 1080p 240fps)
  • Two microP2 card slots (Record HD/2K at more typical production frame rates)
  • RGB 4:4:4
  • One 3G-HD-SDI supports 1080/60p
  • HD-SDI out for monitoring
  • Two XLR inputs can record four channels of 24-bit, 48KHz audio
  • Availability: Fall 2014
  • Price: TBA

The VariCam 35 and the VariCam HS will launch fall 2014, with pricing to be announced. For further information about Panasonic professional video products, visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

2 Comments

  • Reply April 2, 2014

    Cheryl Cadzow-Gunn

    Why do you photograph a black camera on a black background? I can’t see it properly. It sounds wonderful.

    • Reply April 8, 2014

      Nicole Boyd

      Yea, it is a little strange. I’m not sure why their marketing dept. have done that?

      – Nicole Boyd, V&F Online Editor

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