February 10, 2016

Panasonic Unveils Smaller Super 35mm VariCam LT with 4K Up to 60p

Panasonic VariCam LT Side 1
While the Panasonic VariCam 35 is the company's flagship Super 35mm 4K camera, they've just introduced a model at half the price and size, which can take Canon EF or PL mounts.

The new VariCam LT takes the sensor from the 35 and puts it into a much smaller body with slightly reduced specs — 4K up to 60p, instead of 4K 120fps. The LT takes over a lot of the same features, including the unique dual ISO sensor structure, which lets you shoot at 800 clean, or at 5000 clean. In addition, the camera has ProRes recording like its bigger brother. The camera will also be capable of up to 240fps in a crop sensor mode.

Panasonic VariCam LT Ports

We also know that the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+ will support 4K RAW from this camera when it's released in a firmware upgrade this summer. As for the price, it's coming in at a suggest list price of $18K, and $24K with their OLED viewfinder. It's worth noting that list prices can fluctuate from actual prices, so this may not be set in stone, and could be lower when it's actually released in March.

According to Panasonic, this camera is aimed at a more specific market than the Varicam 35:

...the VariCam LT will be the ideal camera for handheld, SteadiCam, jib, crane, drone, gimbal and overall cinema verité work. The VariCam LT is likewise tailor-made for owner/operators, independent filmmakers, documentary makers and corporate production creators.

Here are the specs:

  • Same 4K Sensor as the VariCam 35
  • 14+ Stops of Dynamic Range
  • Dual ISO: 800 and 5000
  • Removable Canon EF or PL Mount Option ($1,300)
  • 4K-UHD — AVC-Intra 4K422: up to 30p
  • 4K-UHD — AVC-Intra 4K-LT: 30p to 60p
  • 2K — AVC-Intra 2K444: up to 30p, AVC-Intra 2K422: up to 60p, up to 120p (cropped), AVC-Intra 2K-LT: 120p to 240p (cropped)
  • HD — AVC-Intra444: up to 30p, AVC-Intra422: up to 60p, up to 120p (cropped), AVC-Intra100: 50i/59.94i, AVC-IntraLT: 120p to 240p (cropped)
  • HD ProRes: 4444 up to 30p, ProRes 422HQ up to 60p
  • One expressP2 card Slot
  • SD Slot for Proxies — AVC-Proxy G6 (6Mbps): up to 60p
  • RAW Output from SDI Coming in Summer 2016
  • ND filters (CLEAR, 0.6, 1.2, 1.8)
  • 256GB expressP2 card — 90 minutes of 4K/4:2:2/23.98p content
  • 3G-SDI OUT x3 (SDI OUT 1/ SDI OUT2/VF SDI)
  • Genlock INTC IN/OUT, LAN
  • USB HOST (for Network Connect), USB DEVICE (miniB)
  • XLR 5 pin x1, XLR 3 pin x2
  • DC OUT 4 pin Hirose x2
  • Lens/Grip Connector 12 pin
  • 12 V DC-IN 4 pin
  • Head Phone x1 3.5 mm Stereo Mini Jack
  • Proxy FTP
  • Can use Panasonic AU-VCVF10G viewfinder and 3rd party viewfinder solutions
  • Weight: Under 6 Pounds Body Only
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 184 mm x 230.5 mm x 247 mm (7-1/4 inches x 9-1/8 inches x 9-3/4 inches)
  • Power Consumption: 47 W (body only), 77 W with all ports maxed out
  • Availability: March 2016
  • List Price: $18,000 (body only), $24,000 (body + AU-VCVF10G viewfinder)
Panasonic VariCam LT Workflow

The new LT also has an interesting V-LOOK color profile, that should give you a less-crushed image but not be as flat as log:

Powerful color management capabilities combined with VariCam’s extended color gamut and support for the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) workflow allow for full fidelity mastering of original source material. The VariCam LT offers in-camera color grading, with the ability to record an ungraded 4K master along with all on-set grading metadata. A new color processing feature is “V-LOOK,” which acts as a blend of V-Log and video, and allows filmic documentary acquisition without the same need for intense color grading.

We'll update with more information and videos as they become available. 

Panasonic VariCam LT Front with Canon Mount

Your Comment

48 Comments

This is the camera I have been waiting for. Much more cinematic looking than a C300 Mark II with a more versatile workflow and ergonomics. I really am putting this on the map as a great A-Cam for broadcast commercials.

February 10, 2016 at 11:49PM

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Caleb Rasak
Camera Operator / AC
401

This camera looks great. There are not a lot of small cinema camera options in this price range and this is a welcome addition. For the $15k-$30k price range we've got the Canon C300 MK II and then the RED Scarlet-W. That's about it. Really nice to see Panasonic come blasting back into the market.

This camera ticks off almost everything I want. It's got a nice highlight rolloff, ProRes, 14+ stops, internal NDs, interchangeable lens mounts (huge), built-in XLRs, built in battery mount, lightweight, and under $25k. I do wish they could have pushed the 4k to 120fps without a crop. That's probably the only box I would have liked to see checked off. But hey, 60p will do and it's much better than the C300 MK II's paltry 30p.

The gorilla footage posted on this page is some of the least impressive footage I've seen from this sensor as it seems just a hair overexposed in some shots and doesn't quite showcase what the sensor is truly capable of. I think these two shorts showcase the sensor a bit better (though these are from the Varicam35, same sensor, different camera):

https://vimeo.com/105522587
https://vimeo.com/130289882

February 11, 2016 at 1:09AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

Are you sure about 4k 120fps? I haven't found that spec anywhere!

February 11, 2016 at 2:40AM

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Rayhanur kabir
Director, DP
204

It is listed in this article under "specs". It only shoots up to 60fps at 4k. If you want to shoot anything above 60fps then there is a crop of the sensor. It states you can actually shoot up to 240fps if you are okay with the crop. But if you want full frame 4k, then 60fps is all you can do.

February 11, 2016 at 2:44AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

Hi Derek, currently the camera only supports up to 120 FPS in 2K Crop Mode. But like you, i'm still hoping for 240 FPS and 120 at 4K! But I doubt that will happen right now.
In regard to the Gorilla video, this is the first of a set of videos that will be posted up. I agree this video doesn't quite show the Dynamic range of the camera, more on the details & this video was all shot on V-Look1. Other videos coming soon, will show more on what the sensor itself can do to the image.
We've had very little time with it, but for Doco, Nature, wildlife stuff, this is certainly a camera we've been waiting for! It's no doubt robust & packs a lot in! More soon...

February 11, 2016 at 3:30AM

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Sandesh Kadur
Director of Photography
87

Yea, I know. Nowhere did I claim it shoots 120fps without a crop. I guess I wasn't clear in my comment. I said I was hoping for that.

February 11, 2016 at 10:49AM, Edited February 11, 10:50AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

The 60P is only a degraded AVC codec. It doesn't even shoot 4K ProRes at any speed.

February 11, 2016 at 11:03PM

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David Gurney
DP
1297

The Camera shoots 240 FPS at 1920 x 1080.
if you shoot at 2K crop the maximum FPS is 120FPS.
At 4K you can shoot up 60 FPS.

February 11, 2016 at 3:07AM

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Robin Darius Conz
Cameraman, Editor
81

Incorrect. According to the specs posted on this article (unless they're wrong), you can shoot up to 240fps with 2k cropped:

AVC-Intra 2K422: up to 60p, up to 120p (cropped)

AVC-Intra 2K-LT: 120p to 240p (cropped)

February 11, 2016 at 11:01AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

It might be a future firmware release that allows you to do that. But currently, when we used it we were only able to shoot 120FPS at 2k crop and on the LT codec.

February 11, 2016 at 11:20AM

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Robin Darius Conz
Cameraman, Editor
81

"For the $15k-$30k price range we've got the Canon C300 MK II and then the RED Scarlet-W. That's about it. "

The Sony F5 and F55 are not worthy competitors in this price range?

February 11, 2016 at 9:35AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
888

I suppose you could throw those in the mix even though they were released in 2012. I wouldn't exactly call them new. But yeah, they're still competitors. In my comment, I was specifically referring to small cinema cameras and the F55 weighs close to 8lbs. I'm not sure if it can be considered a small option.

February 11, 2016 at 10:58AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

"weighs close to 8 lbs"
Wow, it's a backbreaker!

February 11, 2016 at 2:44PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
972

Definitely not a backbreaker by any means. But when it comes to the kind of weight I want to fly around on a gimbal or on a drone, the F55 sits on the other side of that line for me. Nothing personal!

February 11, 2016 at 9:40PM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

Sony F5 is in the price range, but the F55 is about double the price when fully rigged.

February 11, 2016 at 1:37PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30206

Panasonic is "attempting" to blast back into the market but it's more like they're desperately trying to play catch up and they're going about it all wrong. It's not our fault that they held out from getting into the 4K world until 2014. For what this camera does versus its competitors, this camera is overpriced. It should honestly be in the $10,000-$12,000 range.

February 11, 2016 at 1:53PM, Edited February 11, 1:54PM

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Breht
Filmmaker
204

The Alexa still doesn't do proper 4k without upsampling and that camera costs way more. People still buy it, and it's the most used camera on the high-end market. The image sells that camera.

Based on what I've seen so far from the Varicam 35, it's the first camera that really starts to give the Alexa a run for its money when it comes to highlight rolloff. It's also the only camera, so far, that has reached Alexa-levels of dynamic range in independent testing. Couple that with a great form factor, dual native iso (making it the new low-light king), built-in ND's, and an all-around great feature set (the only thing that really competes on paper is the Scarlet-W), and I'd say they're doing pretty well.

February 11, 2016 at 4:55PM, Edited February 11, 4:55PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
550

It's true, Arri still hasn't entered the 4K world. They are still at 2K. Yes they have a 6K camera. But, at $10,000.00 a day to rent it, 99.999% of us will never use it.

February 12, 2016 at 12:09AM, Edited February 12, 12:15AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
573

Breht, Panasonic changed the 4K playing field with the GH4.

February 12, 2016 at 12:04AM, Edited February 12, 12:10AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
573

Or hey, get a BlackMagic with more capability and a less proprietary storage format, and have thousands of dollars left over to buy overpriced CFast cards. Still better than P2 and a camera with no built-in raw recording, no 4K ProRes, and only 30 FPS in its full-quality AVC mode.

February 11, 2016 at 11:06PM, Edited February 11, 11:08PM

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David Gurney
DP
1297

The big strength that Blackmagic have is the choice of in-camera codecs. Fantastic to have all the way up to ProRess 4444XQ and Raw in the same cam.

But the color science of the Varicam, from what I've seen so far, runs circles around Blackmagic. Most of all, the 4.6k is 8 months late to market and Blackmagic haven't said a word. This is the same company that flat-out denied the FPN issue, basically saying it was all a figment of their customers' collective imagination. To be frank, when they act professional and release a camera that works as advertised it'll be a different thing, but right now I don't trust them.

February 12, 2016 at 4:48AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
550

I just got back from the DGA. This camera is spectacular! Nicer than the C300 MK II by far. Really sturdy but it weighs almost nothing. Maybe even less than URSA Mini? At least it felt that way. Really well balanced for such a small camera.

The demos they showed at 2500 ISO had some of the best colors I have seen in the dark. Very saturated with nice clean blacks. The whites roll off really nicely and it does something with blues that I have not seen in any other digital cameras besides maybe the Alexa.

According to one of their own reps it shoots 240fps in 2K scaled from 4K not cropped, but I just looked at the brochure and it says cropped? In any case.. I would buy three if I could. Crop or no crop. :)

February 11, 2016 at 3:12AM, Edited February 11, 3:29AM

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Miles, I really hope you are right. 2k scaled would be a thousand times better than cropped.

February 11, 2016 at 11:04AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

Some footage from the official release made by Tomasz Wolski https://vimeo.com/154942238

February 11, 2016 at 4:23AM

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Nice. Feel like this one might be my go-to rental.

February 11, 2016 at 6:44AM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
1078

At just above this price point you could get a global shutter with the Sony F55. Does the additional 2-bit recording depth (another site lists the Varicam as 10bit/4k and 12bit/2k) over the F55 (10bit/2k) make the Varicam a better buy even though it doesn't have a global shutter?

February 11, 2016 at 10:25AM, Edited February 11, 10:25AM

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Dave
Producer
12

The color science on this camera looks so much more cinematic and pleasing to me than the Sony. Aside from the very cinematic F65, Sony has its own look going on. Some people love them and some hate them. Whether or not the Sonys have a cinematic image as opposed to a digital video image is a topic that has been heavily debated on forums for over a decade now (not trying to fire up that conversation here).

The Varicam LT is lighter by about 3 lbs, which means the world when using it on a gimbal or a drone. You get interchangeable PL and EF mounts which is only something you find on $50k cinema cameras. It shoots ProRes which is much better for post. And perhaps one of the biggest positives is Panasonic's dual native ISO's, which means this camera will be incredible both in daylight AND in low light. That is something that no major cinema camera has been able to achieve to date and Panasonic looks to be spearheading a new technology that can achieve this without sacrificing image quality.

February 11, 2016 at 11:33AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

The Sony F55 costs $40,000 when you add on the Sony EVF, the Sony recording unit, the Sony battery and battery-charger. So the F55 costs almost double what this new Panasonic camera costs.

The Sony F5 ( which does not have a global shutter ) would be the camera to compare with this new Panasonic camera.

February 11, 2016 at 1:46PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30206

You only need the Sony recorder for RAW which this camera doesn't do internally either. Add those same things to the Varicam LT, you're going to end up pretty close to $30k.

Luckily there are cheaper viewfinders. I would probably couple this with a Gratical and spend the difference on a Convergent Design 7Q+ and the shoulder-rig.

February 11, 2016 at 5:03PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
550

Which is still Sony F5 pricing, not Sony F55 pricing.

Can't wait to see some professional footage from this new Varicam beastie.

February 11, 2016 at 5:55PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30206

Agreed. The F55 will end up costing usually around $10k more whichever way you cut it.

Same, I hope this is the year that Varicam starts being used more often. Master of None looked great.

February 11, 2016 at 6:06PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
550

Those express p2 cards are expensive, 256gb card for 2k$

February 11, 2016 at 11:12AM

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Yikes. That definitely sucks.

February 11, 2016 at 11:34AM, Edited February 11, 11:34AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

Geez, and I thought RED mags were expensive. Although, the price is similar. A 1TB minimag is $4k.

February 11, 2016 at 11:58AM

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Yeah, it's annoying. There really is no reason for the media price to be that high for these cameras. They're just taking SSDs or CFAST technology and rehousing it, then tacking on $1k to the price. Looks like P2Cards and Redmags are the printer ink cartridges of cinema. At least they don't run out of ink.

February 11, 2016 at 1:02PM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
310

And if you need your computer to be able to read the card, the card reader is $500.

February 11, 2016 at 12:56PM, Edited February 11, 12:56PM

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Breht
Filmmaker
204

Yep. Panasonic pulled a Sony with this crap. Heaven forbid they use CFast and help drive the price of THAT (admittedly less) overpriced boondoggle down.

February 11, 2016 at 11:10PM

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David Gurney
DP
1297

hopefully sony is soon to roll out a sony f65 mini - maybe without mechanical shutter and a built in recorder - that should get the weight down maybe to around 10lbs

February 11, 2016 at 3:50PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1429

I'm guessing Sony's next move is announcing a new camera/sensor-family altogether. The F65 is great, but it's getting rather old.

The Alev3 still reigns supreme on the market, and both Red and Panasonic have made huge strides in the past two years. Judging by how the FS7 completely undercut the F5, I'm guessing they're getting ready for something new.

February 11, 2016 at 5:00PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
550

This is fantastic, image is stunning.

February 11, 2016 at 8:25PM, Edited February 11, 8:25PM

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Vladimir Druts
Founder & Director at Intangible.co
327

That's a beautiful camera but can it film humans?

February 11, 2016 at 8:35PM

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Julian Terry
Writer/Director
328

Yeah, it's funny. I remember the day when everyone talked first about flesh tones. Now, it's never that it's brought up.

February 12, 2016 at 12:25AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
573

A nice sample from this camera from the cinema5D web site:

https://vimeo.com/154955332

February 12, 2016 at 12:59AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
573

At this price point, this camera makes no sense at all IMHO. What customers this camera is amed at? 4K with max 60 fps? For that price I can have a ready-to-shoot RED Scarlet, or three Ursa Mini 4.6k.

I only can imagine of documentarists who requires ND filters inside.

The image quality is nice, but it reminds me on Sony's video-look. Maybe it can be pushed forward to something "35mm-alike".

February 12, 2016 at 2:32PM, Edited February 12, 3:29PM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator
538

"Weight: Under 6 Pounds Body Only"

I would like to see the specs with the battery before I get too excited.

February 12, 2016 at 8:25PM

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Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
352

I love the form factor of this camera! Although the images in this post look very similar to GH4 footage...

February 13, 2016 at 6:09PM

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Terrell Lamont
Director, Director of Photography
306

Check out the low light abilities of the VaricamLT. Base ISO 5000 https://vimeo.com/155218095

February 14, 2016 at 6:18AM

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Robin Darius Conz
Cameraman, Editor
81

great highlight roll off ? ?

February 18, 2016 at 5:18PM

2
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Was just pointed here by my equipment supplier in Australia but it looks like I'm disappointed again, why drop the 4K to 60P? Still looking for a US$20-25K package that has global shutter, 4K@ 120fps (100 for PAL) and EF lens mountable. Looks like Ursa 4.6 or 4.6 mini is still my only hope... this side of NAB anyway.

March 1, 2016 at 3:42AM

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Chris Tangey
Director/ Cinematographer
8