Every once in a while a company announces a product completely out of left field and it's unclear if they'd actually asked regular shooters for input. The new HMQ30 is a new 4K camera from JVC that was teased at NAB 2012 and has now finally seen the light of day. We didn't know much about the camera at that point except that it was going to have a Nikon F-mount and a 1.25" sensor (which is slightly smaller than M4/3), but now it's been revealed that it is more or less just a big brother to the GY-HMQ10, another 4K camera from JVC that records to 4 SD cards.
Some of the basic specs for the HMQ30 (from the JVC website):
- 8.91 million pixel CMOS Sensor
- Image area: 4K2K: 829 million pixels
- HD: 829 million pixels (dynamic zoom OFF)
- 2.07 million pixels 8.29 million pixels - (dynamic zoom ON)
- Lens Mount: Nikon F-mount
- Shutter: 1/15 to 1/4000 (auto shutter range 1/60 to 1/4000)
- Gain: 0dB, 2.5dB, 6dB, 12dB
- LCD: 920,000 pixel 3.5-inch LCD, 16: 9, color, touch panel
- Viewfinder: 260,000 pixel 0.24 type LCOS, 16: 9, color
- SDHC / SDXC (Class 6/10 recommended), SD slot: × 4
- 4K2K setting: 3840 × 2160/60p/50p/24p
- 4K: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (. MP4) // HD: AVCHD (. MTS)
- VBR, 144Mbps (Max) MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: AAC 2ch 48kHz 16bit 384kbps
- HD set: 1920 × 1080/60p/60i/50p/50i
- 60p/50p mode: VBR, (Max) 28Mbps
- UXP Mode: VBR, (Max) 24Mbps/XP Mode: VBR, (Max) 17Mbps /
- SP Mode: VBR, (Max) 12Mbps/EP Mode: VBR, (Max) 5Mbps (1920 × 1080i)
- Audio: AC3 2ch 48kHz 16bit 256kbps
- Frame rate: NTSC setting 4K2K: 3840 × 2160/59.94p, 23.98p
- HD: 1920 × 1080/59.94i, 59.94p
- PAL setting 4K2K: 3840 × 2160/50p HD: 1920 × 1080/50i, 50p
- Mini HDMI output × 4 (4K: HDMI × 4 HD: HDMI × 1)
- MIC, +48 V / LINE -- (has built-in stereo microphone) XLR × 2
- USB 2.0
- Price: 1.7 Million Yen (Roughly $18,000)
On the surface, this isn't the worst idea in the world, but there are some major problems with the implementation if this will actually be the product released outside of Japan. Having to record to 4 SD cards for 4K (actually UHD 16:9) is about as cumbersome as it gets -- which is probably one of the reasons the HMQ10 more popular. Needing 4 cards for high-resolution shooting means you need at least 8 if you're going to keep shooting before offloading. If you need to shoot even more, marking them is going to be even more essential.
If $18,000 is anywhere near the final price, there are going to be a lot of these sitting on shelves. At that price, even if image quality was mind-blowing, it's going not going to stand up favorably with anything else in that range. If JVC had gone with HDMI 1.4, they could have used two ports instead of four to output 4K 60fps, and then you'd only need one to get 4K 30fps.
I'm glad to see an interchangeable mount, though it looks like there will be no electronic controls built-in. According to JVC's website, you'll still be able to control newer Nikon lenses that don't have aperture rings. It also seems like the sensor is slightly smaller than Micro 4/3, which makes it a bit curious why they didn't just try to build a Micro 4/3 mount. This camera would probably be a lot more interesting with an active MFT mount recording to standard SSD drives. $18K would still be a little steep with those specs, but at least in that case it might fill a need. As it currently stands, I'm finding it hard to imagine who would be interested in the HMQ30, even if it finds its way somewhere around $10,000.
What do you guys think? Is there any price where recording 4K onto 4 SD cards is worth it?