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February 27, 2014

New Cameras from Panasonic: 4K RAW & 120FPS 'VariCam 35' & 2/3-Inch 1080P 240FPS 'VariCam HS'

Panasonic has been teasing a 4K VariCam for a few NAB shows in a row now, but the camera has, up until now, just been a prototype hidden under glass. Back in the fall it became clear that the real thing was coming at NAB 2014, and now the company has unveiled the first images of the final model, along with a number of specs, which include 4K RAW and 4K variable frame rates up to 120fps. They've also got a brand new 2/3" VariCam high-speed camera, which can do 1080p up to 240fps.

Here are the main specs of the camera:

  • 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

And a particularly interesting part from their press release courtesy of Creative COW (click for larger):

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) (see separate news release). 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.

It's also unclear right now how similar the final design will be to the prototypes, but it likely won't be too different. Here is a video showing off the camera as it was back in September (thanks to cinema5D):

Panasonic has stuck with their modular design concept, which means the sensor head and recording modules will not be one piece. Regarding the 4K RAW, Panasonic isn't completely clear on whether this will ever be able to be recorded internally, though with a modular design there is no reason they couldn't create a new 4K RAW module for the camera. We do know for sure that the camera will output 4K RAW from its 3G-HD-SDI outputs (likely uncompressed), so you'd need an external recorder like the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q to record that (and obviously they would have to release an update supporting the camera). We don't yet know precisely what frame rates will be available in 4K RAW, but from the press release it seems like it will at least be able to do 4K compressed internally up to 120fps.

Panasonic Varicam HS

Here are the 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

Panasonic has smartly made the modules interchangeable between these two cameras, so if you're a production that intends on using them at different times for different purposes, you could just use the same modules. It doesn't look like this second camera will be capable of RAW in any way, but it will probably be used more for news, sports, and docs where RAW may not be as necessary -- and compressed codecs are actually preferable.

The VariCam 35 is definitely going to be interesting if Panasonic gets the pricing somewhere near, or below, Sony's F5 or F55. The original VariCam (even the 720p version) produced some gorgeous images, so if the new Super 35mm camera can build off that, it will find its way onto plenty of productions. Panasonic was once at the forefront of digital filmmaking -- with the DVX at the low-end and VariCam at the high-end -- and only time will tell if these new offerings get them back there.

More will likely be revealed at NAB this year, so we hopefully won't have long to wait before we can see some actual images from the camera.

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Your Comment

98 Comments

I know the prices are TBA, but any guesses on price range?

February 27, 2014

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i think price would be 4, 5 lac........

February 28, 2014

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kishor rawat

lac? this isn't india.

February 28, 2014

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S

RIP BlackMagic 4k camera......

February 27, 2014

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Al

lol

February 27, 2014

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Jérôme

I think the Blackmagic 4k camera is still highly relevant due to the cost

February 27, 2014

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Henry

I think both have their place, but there is no doubt this camera will be more expensive than the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. I would venture it's going to be twice as expensive at the least.

February 27, 2014

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avatar
Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director
284

If the price is around $6000.00 to $7000.00 then this Panasonic camera will be a second Panasonic camera this year that will change paradigms.

February 27, 2014

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Gene

If this is going to be only US$6k we'd better all start saving our pennies right away as this is a bargain!

But it is a PL mount camera, I doubt the price bracket they'll be aiming for will be cheap.

February 28, 2014

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It's way too late to the S35 party. It seems to be matching specs to the Red One MX. I've got multiple Panasonic cams, all very nice, all gathering dust. They are hammering home "workflow" but after editing 5k at real speed without any issues on a computer that cost 7 grand, I can't see what professional environment is gonna need a better workflow than that. Go after reality TV, and TV live broadcast, Panasonic. You might have a chance. You won't sell many S35 systems unless you price yourself in the basement.

February 28, 2014

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Paul Watt

If they can get colors close or better than current Varicam, they have contender. I sold all my RED gear because of the thin color gamut. Old Varicams get better fleshtones. My guess, this camera will ring in at about 20-25k.

February 28, 2014

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This will likely be a Sony f5/55 competitior, nothing under 10K I believe. This is a 20K+ camera or even more

February 28, 2014

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Ebrahim Saadawi

Why is Blackmagic the camera company to beat? LoL. That's sad, less than two years making cameras and noone can shut up about them.

Congrats, BMD.

February 27, 2014

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Kholi

What is it with the camera community and the need to "kill" other cameras just because one from a different brand with different specs comes along?

February 27, 2014

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Coty

These people are not from camera comunity, they are just the hype whores, gadget noob geeks which even dont have money to buy anything but moan about everything :)

February 28, 2014

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Kuk

Preach it brother.

February 28, 2014

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Anthony

No. If this were cheap enough to "kill" the BMPC 4K then it would also "kill" Panasonic's own new GH4 which wouldn't make any sense for them to do. It's obviously going to be way more expensive (especially looking at those specs).

February 27, 2014

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Paco

lol - just need to spec it against the Sony F5 which costs $16k and I would be gobsmacked if this camera comes in anywhere under $14,000. So NO - not a threat to the BMC4K in any was shape or form.

Of course Id love it to come in closer to $10k and give Sony a real run for their money. Clearly Canon has no interest in doing so at all so thank god we now have to big name companies who actually GET IT when it comes to the right gear at the right price.

Canon is on the precipice of obsolescence for mine.

February 27, 2014

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Peter

I don't think Panasonic will be able to match whatever the price that BlackMagic is offering, so saying RIP to BlackMagic camera is not really the case here.

February 27, 2014

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Sigh

February 28, 2014

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Panasonic, I think you may have done it. If the image is nice and the price isn't too high, this will most likely be the camera I have been waiting so long for. Dynamic range, true 4K, high frame rates, S35, raw and internal codec, decent low light (I assume), xlr's, all in one camera body. Oh my!!!!!

February 27, 2014

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Jonesy

The GH4 would probably make a great B cam.

February 27, 2014

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Jonesy

Prolly make a great A cam too in some cases.

February 27, 2014

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Gene

The image of the AG/AF100 looks great. If the image from this camera looks as good or better this will be a very exciting camera to use!

February 27, 2014

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Gene

True 4k (9MP)? and price below 10k? Then it gets very interesting for me!

February 28, 2014

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Markus

Two very interesting sounding cameras. Panasonic has been listening to the community so I think these will be priced extremely competitively I mean look at the GH4. I'm excited For Panasonic.

February 27, 2014

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Caleb

You can guarantee this will not be in the same ballbark as the BM4K.

More likely a closer competitor to Sony's F55 I think.

February 27, 2014

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Tone13

I think comparing it to the F55 is a stretch. I would venture to guess that the cameras would be targeting the FS700 crowd. Maybe a little more expensive but not over $16k. Cameras are getting cheaper with time, and pricing it to the point where there are already other proven options available doesn't seem like the right move.
Who knows, it might end up costing $30k for all we know.

But if Panasonic, who by all means needs to play catch up in the S35 market, it would be wise for them to come in lower than the C300 and just a tad bit more than the FS700. With it being modular in design I could see the base camera being $6-7k and then with all add ons closer to $15k for full RAW pipeline.

February 27, 2014

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Jorge Cayon

I think you're right that it will likely be targeted at the FS-700 crowd, although probably priced a little higher.

February 28, 2014

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Brian

The current Varicam is $60,000. It's pretty likely this will come in at a similar price point.

February 28, 2014

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Jake

Although $60K is what's listed on the website, I believe it's the list price from when it was first introduced. I don't think it sells for nearly that much now, if people even still buy them new.

February 28, 2014

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Brian

That's the current sale price on Adorama with lens. http://www.adorama.com/PCAJHPX3700.html

February 28, 2014

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Jake

I would love to see a sample image when released. I'd imagine it's going to be that Panasonic video look, for lack of better terms. I hope I'm wrong.

February 27, 2014

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Chris

No way this Panny 4K is going to be less than $15K.

February 27, 2014

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AVC-Ultra 4K has a 400 Mbps recording rate or about half of Pro-Res (AVCU4K will be ~ 150GB/hour) or four times of the GH4 4K internal. This doesn't sound like a F55 competitor on specs. My guess $15K or so for the camera itself + another $5K for the module.
.
PS. My price guesses have been wrong before (aka Arri Amira).

February 28, 2014

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DLD

I highly doubt this will sell for under 30 grand but hopefully I'm wrong.

February 28, 2014

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This is gonna be pricey, no doubt. Sweet specs though.

February 27, 2014

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Kraig

Seems nice but I reserve judgment until it has been on the market for 4 months.

February 27, 2014

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$12-$20k I'm guessing.

Is there anything announced to replace the Af100 camera?

February 27, 2014

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VinceGortho

IT MUST HAVE cropping at 2K so it can use super 16 lenses like F5/F55 does. Small detail for some HUGE ONE for me. STILL F55 seems a more complete camera. Already has 240 fps capability !

February 28, 2014

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Cristian

The specs are there. Now time to see the color science.

February 28, 2014

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Steve

Does this mean we'll never see an AF200 (successor to their AF100 series)?
Or is there still hope they'll bring out a 4/3" videocamera underneath this but above the GH4? (which has a stills body)

February 28, 2014

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"14+ Stops of Dynamic Range"

NOW WE'RE TALKING!!

February 28, 2014

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Indeed!! (but i'll believe when i see it ;)

February 28, 2014

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Alex Roman

Doesn't seem a smart move to me. They are ranging towards expensive(ish) productions by adopting a PL mount (I never heard of a Canon or Nikon to PL adaptor), so even if the camera is in a bellow $10k price range, like some suggested, you would still need to afford or rent PL glass. Just think its not ideal. Panasonic should have made the M4/3 mount able to cover at least APSC sensors (like E-mount, which covers up to full frame).

And 2/3" sensor for the other camera? How does it make it desirable? I don't seem to get it, sorry. Also, no word about the mount on that one, but I'm guessing M4/3.

And again with the proprietary media. First microP2 and now expressP2... I wonder how much will they charge for that...

February 28, 2014

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Miguel Franco

2/3" sensor is still hugely desirable for 90% of TV production, presumably it will be B4 mount so you can keep all your $10k ENG glass. You can buy the back end recorder and whichever front end you like (or both) and switch between cinematic s35 and TV 2/3" as and when you need. I've been waiting for a replacement for my much missed Af101, and this isn't it - like Erik says, it's got to be $20k at least, but it's going to be stiff competition for both markets - F5/55, C500 etc AND PDWF800s and the like. Good move Panny, now give us a cheaper m43 version as well please!

February 28, 2014

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Tom Lenham

This camera is probably gonna come in closer to the F55 pricing. I'd be surprised if it was under $20k.

The 2/3 Varicam will probably be a $10k or slightly under offering.

Both have some quality specs and their own place in film/TV. I'm excited to see more.

February 28, 2014

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Ben Howling

Still, to expansive for the most indie filmmakers. Many will go for gh4 or something similar

February 28, 2014

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Why AVC-Ultra etc? Just give us ProRes. Didn't they learn anything from Arri?

February 28, 2014

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Tulio

1) AVC-Ultra4K files are smaller than Pro-Res
and
2) Panasonic has an own codec, so they don't need to buy/license anything from the outside vendor (Apple) here.
and
3) If the file size isn't a problem and budgets are flexible, you can always record Raw with the external recorder. Aja and Convergent Design would probably be prime candidates to have a suitable Raw recorder.
.
PS. Pricewise - B&H is selling a full FS-700 Raw kit for ~ $23.5K (was on sale for $20K over the holidays, as I recall). Their F5 "documentary" kit is ~ $25K. You figure F55, depending on the package, is ~ $45K and up. So, mid-$30's, for the full shooting kit appears reasonable.
.
PPS. The Red Shark News report out of a UK based broadcast conference that the GH4 footage on a 4K screen looks phenomenal.

February 28, 2014

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DLD

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