March 29, 2014

Panasonic Unveils New Details of the Modular 4K Varicam, Plus Sexy New Pictures

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]

Your Comment

42 Comments

Panasonic were accused of being late to 4K, but seem to have quietly considered the matter very well with these and the GH4 (my feeble complaint is the YAGH add-on unit is very ugly).
Rumours of more Canon 4K coming at NAB too:-
http://www.eoshd.com/content/12310/canon-4k-refresh-c200-c400-coming-nab
Silence from RED, though that could mean anything. Exciting stuff.

March 29, 2014 at 7:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Saied

The " the YAGH add-on" costs more than the GH4, it makes no sense! Wake up Panasonic!

March 30, 2014 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
MovieBuff

The name YAGH seems strangely appropriate for the visual appearance, but I am quite impressed by the price to be honest. The option to imminently buy and shoot to a 4K DCI cinema standard or saying "Nah, I'll get the next one" shows how far things have come in how little time and how spoiled we all are right now.

March 30, 2014 at 1:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Saied

yagh can be bypassed using the mini hdmi port on the gh4 body, which will enable you to record 4k at highest quality to an external recorder. though, currently no recorders are available to make that possible -- word is there may be at least one announced at nab

April 1, 2014 at 3:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

5
Reply
3q3w51f

Thanks, will look out for that.

April 3, 2014 at 9:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Saied

So, who's going to the NAB?
.
PS. As to Varicam, my do-over price guess - $15K for the 2K unit, $25K for the 4K, $10K for the module. This should make the complete 4K set at just under F55 total (which wants to encroach on Panasonic's ENG territory with its updates) and the 2K set well under the Amira total.

March 29, 2014 at 7:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

2
Reply
DLD

SWEET looking little cameras!

March 29, 2014 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Gene

New Panasonic GH4 footage [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFdnI7C2slk&feature=youtu.be ]
.
Night in Hong Kong. Superb 4K picture quality. At under $2K. Makes you wonder how many production companies - from the majors to the independents - will be perfectly content to use something like this (or the new Sony DSLR style 4K camera) and shrug their shoulders at the higher priced offerings.

March 29, 2014 at 8:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

3
Reply
DLD

We are planning on selling our RED Epic and using this. Sure you lose features and some quality but it's also $20,000 in our pocket. Putting some of that towards a Metabones adapter, a lens or two, and the YAGH unit and it's not a bad set up at all.

March 29, 2014 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply

You really are switching from a Red to the GH4K? I didn't think I'd hear that. These preliminary videos really are beautiful. And they are made with Panasonic lenses. I am certain other lenses, like Leica, etc., will look even better. And I'm really happy that the GH4K is $1700.00. That really is affordable to anyone that is even mildly serious about video.

March 29, 2014 at 9:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Gene

Surprised to hear that!

Were you thinking of upgrading to the dragon?

March 29, 2014 at 9:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Luke

I was thinking of a TV production where there might be 4-6 cameras (and camera operators) shooting on various locations/sets or a multiple camera shoot for a "single cam" look show, where it's much easier to operate lighter units with hand held stabilizers, dollies and jibs. Historically, TV has been mostly about the workflow anyway. Where companies could have used the 35 mm film, they used 16 mm. Where they could have used 16 mm, they used video tape. It's all about speed. Sony F55, in its defense, has a $27K attachment that lets it function like a live unit. It is primarily designed for the sporting events, such as the upcoming World Cup, but can be also used as a studio piece, with the director seeing every feed on a wall of monitors in the control booth or truck.
.
BTW, in the 20's and 30's, a lot of the low end shorts and films - think of the 3 Stooges quality - were shot with a 4-camera technique. The inside cameras held the master shot - very useful when you're filming Curley and he decides to ad-lib - while the outside cams did the closeups. The set was generously lit, which is to say blasted from every direction (often overexposed too ... imagine that with the 1930's film) but it surely helped ease the workflow and thus significantly lower the costs of production.
.
PS. As to costs, there are some excellent MFT, EF, F, FE/A mount zooms and primes on the market. Many are capable of the auto focus as well. Cooks may look gorgeous but a set of those may run anywhere from $40K to $100K. A set of high quality MFT primes may run under $5K. For a TV production with half a dozen of simultaneously deployed shooters, having the same number of high end cameras and lens combos might be cost prohibitive but a sub-$10K camera and lens investment is a piece of cake.

March 29, 2014 at 9:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
DLD

Hopefull the gh4 will be able to do 96fps @10bit through an external recorder, if 10 bit is possible it will be a ver nice camera, not 12 bit, but 10 bit 4k will be good enough and will also be very nice in lowlight

March 30, 2014 at 3:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

4
Reply
NoWhiteInMyCup

I sold my Scarlet package to buy all 3 Blackmagic cameras & a GH4.

My BMPCC is now pre-rigged onto a Defy G2. I could afford a much more tricked out handheld rig w. mattebox/filters & Redrock MicroRemote for the 4K & 2.5K. I use the 2.5K with Speedbooster for lowlight & times where DR is important, the 4K for everything else. Plus I made over $6,000 on top of all that by selling my Red gear.

When the GH4 comes out I'll have all the overcranking I need.

The only way I'll go back to Red is if I have 35k laying around for a basic Dragon package.

March 30, 2014 at 7:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply

...and by then I'm sure a cheaper alternative will be released

March 30, 2014 at 7:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

5
Reply

Wow. NAB will be so interesting this year! Can't wait! :D

March 29, 2014 at 10:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Tiedtke

By the way, speaking of the divergent prices - a new Tokina 11-16 mm T3 (F2.8) Cinema zoom is priced at $1,899 for the MFT mount and at $4,999 for the PL mount. For the difference, you can get a GH4 with the YAGH!

March 30, 2014 at 4:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
DLD

Tokina doesn't make a PL lens. You're thinking of the Duclos custom re-housed Tokina. You can expect to pay a lot for a custom lensA, and it's only $3500. (It's almost always out of stock.). I totally want one...a perfect compliment to my RPZ 17mm-50mm T2.9 v2.

April 14, 2014 at 4:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

4
Reply
Daniel Mimura

god I hate TBD prices. You know what you want to charge. They're just waiting to see other announcements at NAB.

March 30, 2014 at 4:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
sean

The prices of computers fall quickly for given for the level of performance and modern cameras - much like camera phones - are basically portable computers. When C500 was released, it was MSRP at $30K and now, two years later, it's going for $20K street. GH3 was $1,700 on its release in September, 2012 and it is now selling for about $1K. Lenses, of course, tend to hold their value, which is why Canon or Nikon ecosystems continue in eternity. Its owners need to be nudged very hard to jump into a different mounting.
.
PS. Many folks are poo-pooing EOS HD report on the new 4K Canon cameras. However, to me, this is a question of when and not if. The photography market is nice but it is shrinking terribly and the upscale video niche is one of the few places where money can still be made. Supposedly, Canon will only unveil the servo-zooms at the NAB'14 while the camera line will have to wait a little.

March 30, 2014 at 5:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
DLD

When you're late it's always best to wait, I always say. ;^)

March 30, 2014 at 6:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

7
Reply
Enjoying some G...

At some point, of course, it's going to be a deluge, especially when offloading some of the processing duties to an external unit via HDMI 2.0 or 6SDI cables rather than via the proprietary connections such as YAGH. And, depending on the cooperation between the various manufacturers, you might see something like a combination of YAGH and Odyssey Q7 rolled into one, i.e., something very similar to the Panasonic design in this very article ... except smaller and cheaper, if with some tradeoff for quality.
.
PS. The influence of the brand ecosystems ought not be underestimated (or misunderestimated, if you will). New models have superior auto focusing designs - the new Sony A6000 has almost no lag; GH4 and C100/300 are excellent as well - but they will work best, and often only, with each company's own brand of glass. Add a third party attachment such as Metabones and you're either back to manual focus or to a somewhat less-than-optimal solution available.

March 30, 2014 at 11:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

8
Reply
DLD

Canon seems not to understand the deluge has already begun. No worry. Their advertizing convincement will illude they were on the true forefront, necessitating time to forge the genuine article, while others were only tinkering at what could only be aptly categorized as bush-league ware. Then the patches will ensue, from hither and yon, to make that illusion materialize--try they will!

March 31, 2014 at 1:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Enjoying some G...

Speaking of the GH4K:

Here's some low light testing:

4096x2160, 24p, night in available light

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdxXRH-qVk0

March 30, 2014 at 8:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Gene

Some GH4K aerial on vimeo: http://vimeo.com/90458582

March 30, 2014 at 8:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Gene

More consumer 4K from Panasonic, "Wearable 4K". Canon has zero consumer 4K, jus sayin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlgeM4E0N9Q

March 30, 2014 at 8:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

2
Reply
Gene

I'm curious about the pricing and how it will handle skin tones.

I personally think they are ugly cameras and I don't know why anyone would want to follow Sony's lead on slapping buttons everywhere. I find the modularity to be an odd choice - yes, that's great if you have two of them and are shooting 3d, but really, who is this camera aimed at? It looks like they slapped a C300 on an F55.

And a 2/3" sensor version? Really? Are there people clamouring for that? Couldn't they make a B4 mount for the regular camera? Arri did with the Amira...

Anyway, I look forward to seeing footage from it and I'm glad they are back in the game.

March 31, 2014 at 6:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
david

My guess is that if you are a network's tech department, you might be given X-number of head units and 1/2 X of the attachments, so you make one coupling for news/reality/sports and another for the A-list scripted. Sony must be thinking along of the same lines because they're allegedly getting F5/55 for some shoulder mounts and the same news/reality/sports niche currently dominated by C 300. (thus also the ProRes update) Arri is going for the same market with Amira. Obviously, with the proliferation of digital cable/satellite channels and the internet streaming, there's a huge demand - literally - for anything that moves and talks and the equipment that brings that to the audience.

March 31, 2014 at 9:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

1
Reply
DLD

2/3 inch cameras are the standard in the broadcast industry. Even though you can use B4 lenses on a Super 35mm camera, it is not ideal (there is a magnification factor). B4 lenses built specifically for 35mm sensors are very expensive. In addition, the OPL filter should be different for 4k and HD cameras in order to reduce moire. Dockable cameras were very popular back in the days. It gives a level of flexibility; for example converting a camera from ENG/EFP configuration to studio configuration. Personally, I like how they look. It is like a Sony F5/F55 with an Arri optical viewfinder. And just as Sony, they did a very good job designing the two parts so it looks like a camcorder.

March 31, 2014 at 5:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Mel Feliciano

Rumor that Panasonic and Olympus and doing away with Micro 4/3 over the next two years:

http://noamkroll.com/the-death-of-micro-four-thirds-sources-claim-panaso...

March 31, 2014 at 7:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Gene

43Rumos even posted the alleged audio ... but it's an April, 1 post (since it is April, 1st, in Europe already)

March 31, 2014 at 9:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
DLD

I got a shady email too saying that, meanwhile panny is coming out with the gh4. Its gotta be an April fools joke. From the tone of the email I almost felt Panasonic was gonna file for chapter 11 or something. It can't be right.

March 31, 2014 at 9:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

4
Reply
Anthony Marino

Yep it was April 1st in Russia when they sent that email out. Lol

March 31, 2014 at 10:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

4
Reply
Anthony Marino

I think it originated on Personal View, which is based somewhere in Russia. It's a silly hoax though. For most practical intents and purposes, MFT size sensor is perfectly suitable for photography and cinematography. I am amazed so many people ran with it.

April 1, 2014 at 1:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

1
Reply
DLD

Yep...sorry to say this is true. I heard it from a drunk guy at the local pub...

Even more disturbing is that Canon and Nikon are doing away with the "Floppy Mirror" box in order to make real digital cameras...that can shoot decent quality video...

March 31, 2014 at 7:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Skeptikal

OK, this is one of those "Hitler" videos about Panasonic's April, 1st "abandonment" of MFT. Pretty funny though ... especially if you don't speak German.
.
[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X817_yaCbbc ]

April 1, 2014 at 11:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

4
Reply
DLD

Modular design is a fad they said. Better dead than Red they said.

April 1, 2014 at 2:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Natt

Color me Red Dragon.

April 1, 2014 at 9:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Gene

April 1, 2014 at 9:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Gene

Looking for a mirrorless camera that shoots only Black and White (yes I said ONLY, no color on the sensor), has no auto-focus, poorly functioning auto exposure, and costs $10,000.00? Then Leica has the camera for you!! Maybe they were aiming at the Hipster constituency.

13:26 minute review:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n98Q4uvn92w

April 1, 2014 at 10:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

2
Reply
Gene

Panasonic is teaming with Codex to develop Raw recording modules. Expected arrival is the fall of 2014.

April 2, 2014 at 8:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
DLD

looks neat, but hardly a proven field machine yet.
I love modularity in general, but breaking up component parts of the camera like that will not be terribly helpful to our field camera guys. just more cables=more points of failure.
And we already have a few Panasonics on the repair bench.

We wont be taking any of these to sporting events until we have heard somebody else's success or failure story.

April 4, 2014 at 8:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

7
Reply
Russ D