April 9, 2014

New Full Frame Sony a7S Claims Clean 4K in Candlelight, 720/120FPS and 4K via HDMI Out

Sony's new camera at NAB this year comes in a familiar form factor for all of the DSLR users out there. The Sony a7S, an extension of the previous a7 models, is a full frame 12.2 megapixel sensor capable of HD recording up to 120 fps, with 4K recording only through HDMI to an external recorder such as the new Atomos Shogun. Hit the jump to watch our interview with Sony at their NAB booth:

Specs at a glance:

  • 12.2MP Full-Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor
  • Sony E-mount
  • Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24, 30, 60 FPS
  • Capable of 120 FPS at 720p
  • Records to AVCHD, XAVC S and MP4 to SD, SDXC, SDHC, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO HG-Duo
  • 4K (4240 x 2832) full-frame sensor is cropped to UHD 3840 x 2160 for recording via HDMI to external recorder only (8 bit, 4:2:2)
  • ISO range from 50-409,600
  • 3.0" 921.6k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
  • Sony W-series batteries
  • Dynamic Range TBA
  • Availability TBA

The 's' on the model stands for sensitivity and claims to be able to see and focus in -4 EV lighting conditions due to the large pixels.

Here's Sony's official video and the first footage from the camera:

There's no pricing or availability details, though we know it will be more expensive that the previous a7 models at $1,700. What do you think of this offering from Sony? Join the discussion below and stay tuned to our coverage from the floor at our NAB master post.

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Your Comment

67 Comments

What's going on with Canon? Are they going to announce anything at NAB? Anyone knows?

April 9, 2014 at 3:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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k

The T6i

April 9, 2014 at 3:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Why would anyone ever feel tempted to cough up the money canon is asking for the 1Dc once this is out in the wild?

April 9, 2014 at 5:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Raúl

lol

April 9, 2014 at 10:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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loveit

That's what I'm wondering. Seems like they're waiting for everyone else to announce first, gauging if they have to announce next gen products or pricing on next gen products.

April 9, 2014 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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VinceGortho

hopefully Kinefinity will make some announcements... like U.S. distribution through familiar reputable vendors.

April 9, 2014 at 3:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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VinceGortho

Vince, KinFinity has priced the 4K KineRaw Mini at $3,200 and up. No price on the 6K KineMax yet but they do have a booth at the NAB.

April 9, 2014 at 5:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

That's what I am thinking as well. One possibility is that they won't announce anything technically new, instead firmware updates for both C300 and C100 that would enable features like 4k/raw/high frame rates. Let's wait and see!

April 9, 2014 at 3:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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k

I'd pay for higher frame rates on the C100. All I ask is 120fps.

April 9, 2014 at 4:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alex

"ALL" you ask? haha.

April 9, 2014 at 5:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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60fps is a pipe dream for Canon

April 10, 2014 at 8:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene Sung (non-...

Canon must be working on 4K at 60fps behind the scenes. Affordable 4K from Canon is glaringly absent at NAB. At least they better be working on it so we won't have Canon to kick around any more.

I'm not the GH2 Gene either.

April 10, 2014 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

I'm very intrigued by what Canon is doing, even if they don't announce this NAB, though the C200 and C400 are recent rumours. Not trolling, but personally I feel zero excitement at the Blackmagic models.

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

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Saied

If they do not announce anything they will send a really bad sign. The C500 is a semi-flop and the C300, though very succesful, has specs of another age.

For the job I do (one operator shootings in remote places around the world), the C300 is an absolute delight to use. But things like slow motion or 10bits are missing. If they could add just that, the new version (C400?) would be a great success. Fingers crossed.

April 9, 2014 at 4:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Haroun Souirji

At least a CFast and UHS Class 3 upgrade for the 5Dmk3 would've been nice.

Back on Sep13/2013 Canon stated: Canon is also a supporter of the CFast 2.0 standard. Masaya Maeda, managing director and chief executive of image communication product operations at Canon said, "With extremely fast performance, CFast 2.0 memory cards will enable us to develop next-generation cameras with more powerful features, enabling future 4K Ultra HD video recording capability."

April 9, 2014 at 9:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JuankyAlvarez

Canon is now in lens business ;)

April 10, 2014 at 2:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robert B.

The success of this camera will depend on its price and the amount of rolling shutter skew.
I hope it will be closer to the ax100 by its price and not the rolling shutter skew.

April 9, 2014 at 3:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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don hogfan

Not bad, really not bad.

I'm seeing everyone releasing 4K cameras who probably have been developed many years ago. That makes me wonder, what's the deal with the H.265 codec? 4K 10Bit just a little heavier than the current H.264. I'm sure the next 2015 and 2016 will be as still as crazy . Looking forward to it.

April 9, 2014 at 3:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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edgar

HEVC requires a lot of power and thus generates a lot of heat, so it's more of a final delivery codec at this point. I assume that, soon enough, you'd be able to dump Raw or ProRes HQ footage into your editing station and generate a fairly high quality proxy in HEVC for editing. The streaming and rack mounted studio switches have gone to HEVC already, especially if live delivery is at stake and the power consumption isn't an issue.
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As to Sony - this sensor should be on a 4K camcorder line also - from $5K to $15K - but Sony does have the rest of their line to protect. If they had made something like AJA Cion with this sensor and the internal XAVC and ProRes for around $10K, it'd be very difficult to convince their consumer to splurge on F5 or even F55. So, they'd rather lose some money to Atomos or Convergent Design than to themselves. Of course, at some point, Canon will bring out the C100/300 replacements; Panasonic will have a new AF 100; JVC will bring their ILC's to the scene and Sony will have no chance but to match or exceed the price/quality point. Right now, they prefer to ride the cash cows a bit more. The situation may become different half a year from now..

April 9, 2014 at 5:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

120fps for 720p only.

April 9, 2014 at 4:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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roman

Yes, you're right. My bad! So many numbers to keep track of. It's updated now, thanks.

April 9, 2014 at 5:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

That shot at 2:20 at 12,800 ISO is insanely clean.

April 9, 2014 at 4:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That's what I was thinking! If that's what Sony's sensors are doing nowadays, I can't wait for one to show up in a proper video camera.

April 9, 2014 at 5:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Frank

The F55/65 are proper video cameras

April 9, 2014 at 7:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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FA

yes, but expensive. They could put this video capability into something much lower priced and smaller.

April 9, 2014 at 10:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Does it really do 1080p at 120fps? I thought they said only 60p and 120p at 720p

April 9, 2014 at 4:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ebrahim Saadawi

Did anyone notice that she kept her left eye open when looking through the viewfinder?

April 9, 2014 at 4:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

I'm doing that too. Very useful!

April 9, 2014 at 5:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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A trade secret of perfect sniper too... Although exit pupil is usually so small with typical high power rifle scope, that it becomes impossible. But yes, less strain and more light to eye used.

But in "aggressive and fast combat shooting" with modern low power scope / sight it is a very useful skill. Of course if your eye dominance is reversed, it can be impossible to grasp, even with extensive training.

April 9, 2014 at 6:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juhan-i

Here are the specs and yeah it is 120fps at 720 http://www.sony.net/Products/di/en-us/translation_img/products/vq5f/over...

also heres the promo page

http://www.sony.net/Products/di/en-us/products/vq5f/index.html

thanks to Juhan-i for pointing it out in earlier posts

April 9, 2014 at 4:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Whispers

Output 4K at 4240X2832? I also thought it was only UHD. Is this true, maybe to eliminate the crop factor?

April 9, 2014 at 4:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ebrahim Saadawi

I'm going all perfectionist crazy here, but the camera's name is supposed to be written with an uppercase "S", as "a7S" or "Alpha 7S" or "α7S". Sony's written it that way the whole time...
It's also less confusing when referring to it in the possessive or plural sense.
(Editors writing Blackmagic as two words, or in CamelCase is also odd. I've seen sites that've actually been sponsored by Blackmagic writing the name incorrectly when mentioning the sponsorship...)

April 9, 2014 at 4:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr Blah

Haha, thanks, I've updated the post and video to reflect this.

April 9, 2014 at 5:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

No prob. It's not that important, but was just bothering me a bit.
Thanks!

April 11, 2014 at 12:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr Blah

Okay, I just saw one of Sony's official YouTube channels along with one of their UK product pages write it with a lowercase "s"... while most of the rest of their media has it with an uppercase one. It looks like not even everyone at Sony knows what it is, haha.

(This could be the result of designing the logo for the α7S with a very small lowercase-looking "s" while keeping the textual name with it uppercase.)

April 12, 2014 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr Blah

I've also read/heard that the 120fps is only at 720p. I hope I'm wrong.

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

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Thomas

The output is actually UHD 4K, not cinema 4K, but give props to Sony. I looked at the footage closely, and it has a VERY nice cinematic feel to it, IMO, and the high dynamic range is very obvious to me. Possibly better than RAW DNGs from an FS700. Only 8 bit, but still looks like a great option, maybe 10 bit in the future with firmware?

April 9, 2014 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robert

If internal code is 10-bit, there is very good chance of some creative hacking... Outputting 10-bit data should not be a problem, if the frame rate and resolution stays the same.

April 9, 2014 at 6:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juhan-i

From what I understand, from talking with the representatives at NAB, this chip in this body will never output 10 bit. It's a heat issue. Even getting 8 bits took some creative engineering due to heat, I hope this isn't an issue. But I'm still very excited about this camera. This camera was the one that interested me most from NAB. Really looking forward to seeing some more footage... especially bright sunny days and blue skies.

April 10, 2014 at 12:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jonesy

Even with all the ither camera announcement this NAB, there's something really special about this camera. That sensor! That ultraclean ultra high DR sensor is unmatched by any other camera announcement this year. That new color scince looks amazing! Leagues ahed of any GH4 footage Ibe seen so far. Den Lennie said the DR is similar to his F5, that's a 15stop sensor! Such an amazing move by Sony to offer it first on a small consumer camera. There was a rumor before that the onky way Alexa is introducing a 4K camera is by offering a larger than S35 sensor. This is Sony saying, we know that already, and we did it first.

April 9, 2014 at 7:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Quobetah

In fairness to GH4, most of the available Panasonic footage is from the internal 4:2:0 recording done on a $1,700 camera while A7s connected to an external recorder like Atomos Shogun will run around $5,000. Also, the released A7s clips are very stationary and, while Sony asserts not to have jello effects, it was careful not to release any motion based video either.
.
PS. There's a new YouTube excerpt of a "Panasonic 4K Studio", with four GH4's+YAGH, a few switch boxes, a couple of tripods, a Steadicam and a jib.

April 10, 2014 at 2:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

The price of the A7S is still announced yet.
Only the Shogun we know will be about 2k.

April 10, 2014 at 5:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Greyfus

unannounced * typo sorry lol

April 10, 2014 at 5:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Greyfus

@ Greyfus - it's been mentioned on several sites - I think once by Jeromy Young, Atomos's CEO; another by Johnny Behiri - that combined price will be about (or under) $5K, So, that's where I was coming from.
.
@ Juhan - i - it is amazing and what it means that one can shoot with nary a practical ... in reality, just a few small, dirt cheap LED panels - the type you attach to the top of the camera - will be enough under many circumstances ... and shooting inside a club, a restaurant or a church won't require any additional lights at all ...

April 10, 2014 at 7:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

New Mitakon lens is soon to be released for the FF E-mount - 50mm /.95, $799 retail. That's what you call a shot in the dark.

April 10, 2014 at 4:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/amazing-sony-a7s-low-light-test-video/

Nothing to add really. There is camera brands and their fan boys who keep telling "how xxx changed the industry", and then there is japanese engineering that just ... delivers...

Less show, more go.

April 10, 2014 at 6:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juhan-i

to me looks like they retrofitted the D3s sensor into this one, which is awesome already

April 10, 2014 at 10:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tony Northrup talks about this camera:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpEt68uoMPc

April 10, 2014 at 10:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Is this going to have that god forsaken 30 minute limit?

April 10, 2014 at 10:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

it has a 29 minute limit for internal recording, to avoid the 12.5% tax.

April 10, 2014 at 12:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Matthias

but I think that tax only applies in europe, not the US. Or am I wrong?

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

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Gene

When I asked Sony at NAB, they said the recording limit was removed.

April 13, 2014 at 3:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mo

That's very cool to know Mo. That unbelievable low light makes that camera very valuable. I hope it is priced around the GH4K price, or lower, and not higher.

April 13, 2014 at 4:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Again the same mistake from Canon and Sony they stay at 8 bite on 4k.

Simple made a camera with a chip corresponding to a cinema scope size ratio no need lens scope but just larger lens how covered the frame size capture...

April 10, 2014 at 1:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pierre Samuel Rioux

8-bit HDMI out is what one calls "product crippling" - and the video gear manufacturers are notorious for that - because, as Northrup says, this sensor will make its way into the higher end cameras. The combined rig doesn't look too bad though.

April 10, 2014 at 3:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

it´s not 8 but 10bit HDMI out for the 4K signal.

April 11, 2014 at 3:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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oscar

Rumors have the A7s priced at around $3,000 in the US, conceivably slightly higher.

April 10, 2014 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

that rumor sucks!

April 10, 2014 at 11:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

The pre-order pricing in the UK is £2,499, according to SAR. And that's just about $4,000 U$, although the street prices in North America are likely to be less than that.

April 11, 2014 at 4:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

They will not be competitive with the GH4K at that price. To compete with the GH4K i was expecting something around $1600-$1700.

April 12, 2014 at 3:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Anyone know if you need the external Atomos Shogun to record 50meg 1080p only? No sd card slot? Or do you need external to capture ANY video at all? Thanks

April 10, 2014 at 3:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joanathan

No you can record 1080p 50meg in XAVC-S internally. External recorder only required for 4k :)

April 11, 2014 at 4:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ebrahim Saadawi

good camera, but 8-bit ?
even Sony A99 can do 10 bit

April 10, 2014 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ade a

I agree with Pierre, it is a big mistake that Sony didn't go all the way and let HDMI spit out 10 bit like the GH4 does. I would never dream of switching from Magic Lantern on 5Dlll to an 8 bit system for the sake of getting 4K. The beauty isn't in the resolution itself, but in the capeabilities you get with more dynamic headroom in post. And remember that this demo was shot in overcast weather which makes everything look nice and soft. I would like to see the same footage shot in bright sunshine and see what would happen then with contrast and blown highlights. Also the series has had very little og no grading applied. To me 8 bit belongs to the past, even my 3 year old Panasonic AG HPX-250 shoots 10 bit http://youtu.be/slzNTWRM_fE
Cheers, Steen

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

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Well I guess I am onboard to purchase both the A7s & the GH4 . I currently have a hacked GH2, Gh3 & BMPCC and with the possible exception of the latter, these are a step up for me at an affordable cost compared to 1DC etc. Yea sure wish it was 10 bit output HDMI but not sure how important this is after viewing the beautiful footage. I really want a full frame camera for stills and have been waiting for an affordable model that also does superb film/video. With the lower megapixels, what is the expectation for stills compared to other full frame cameras such as Canon and Nikon? I've resisted the Sony A7r due to it's inferior video/film quality but now as I embrace the A7s's superior video/film quality, will I be losing in the stills?

April 12, 2014 at 8:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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this camera is so sharp that you can even see the celulitis through the yellow pants at 1:32 seconds in the video. what an awesome camera.

April 15, 2014 at 5:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john

GH4 ftw

10 bit

True 4k @ 4096x2160 @ 24hz recording

(Modern codecs will leave 23.98, 29.97 behind)

June 11, 2014 at 4:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lcky