Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 2.26.41 PMAbout a month ago, the future of Panasonic's video production tools became clear when we got the first details of the brand new Varicam camera system, which consists of a 4K-capable s35 module, a 2/3 HD module, and an external recorder that is interchangeable between the two systems. While all of the official details will be released at NAB in just one week's time, the director of Panasonic's digital imaging division, Kunihiko Miyagi, has just divulged some new information and given us some new pictures at which to grovel. Check it all out below.

First and foremost, in case you missed Joe's excellent post last month about the official announcement of the Varicam, here's a quick recap. At NAB this year, Panasonic will officially release the brand new modular Varicam camera system. The long-rumored 4K s35 module looks to have all of the high-end specs that shooters are demanding these days, from 14+ stops of dynamic range, to internal variable high frame rates of up to 120fps in full 4K.

Here are the specs that we currently have, plus a few new photos of this beastly production machine:

  • 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 s35 VariCam

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 1.19.36 PM

Panasonic also unveiled a separate camera system with 2/3 sensor that is geared towards documentary and news production. This camera is HD-only, but it will likely be a very high quality HD due to the 3 separate sensors, which eliminate the de-bayering process of single sensor CMOS cameras. Here are the specs:

  • 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

2:3 Style

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 1.19.55 PM

Originally it was unclear whether or not these two modules were full-fledged cameras in and of themselves that would be augmented by the recorder unit, or if they were simply boxes with a sensor and a lens mount that would need to be attached to the recorder in order to be functional. In his post on the Panasonic Pro Video blog, Miyagi pointed out the following:

VariCam Recording ModulePlease note, however, that the camera heads cannot be used without the recorder, and the recorder can only be used with the Varicam camera modules.

In his post, Miyagi also outlined Panasonic's thought process behind creating a truly modular camera system:

The biggest reason is simply that we believed we could best meet the needs of users by simultaneously developing a large sensor version when shallow DOF is needed, and a 2/3” version for scenes that require more of the picture in focus. Being modular also of course allows more flexibility for further additions to the line in the future.

At this point there are still a few things that we absolutely need to know before we can determine where the Panasonic Varicam system will fit into the market, chiefly what kind of images these cameras can produce, and more importantly, how much they will cost. On paper, these cameras have the specs to become truly competitive with the other tools on the market, and if Panasonic can price these in the $20K-30K range, they might just have a real winner on their hands.

Let's hear your thoughts down in the comments!

Link: Varicam Modularity -- Panasonic Pro Video Blog

[via News Shooter]