April 13, 2014

A Closer Look at Panasonic's Modular 4K VariCam; Will Be Priced Below $60K

We've seen plenty of impressive cameras be unveiled at NAB in the last week from Blackmagic, Sony, JVC, and even AJA. Although we've known about Panasonic's first 4K VariCam for a while, we were able to chat with Steve Cooperman about the modular camera, as well as take a closer look at its features, which include a Super 35mm CMOS sensor, 14+ stops of dynamic range, PL mount, and internal 4K up to 120fps. We're also told by Cooperman that, with all components included, the camera will be sold for under $60K.

Panasonic will be releasing more detailed specs down the road, but here are some specs that have been shared thus far:

  • 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

Varicam-S35

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Your Comment

34 Comments

4k raw at what FPS?

April 13, 2014 at 10:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Henry

That is yet to be determined, as they're working through the third party - Codex - to deliver the 4K Raw. Currently, Codex Onboard S Plus supports 120 fps 4K from Canon C500 and is priced at $15,000.

April 13, 2014 at 10:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Lol the Sony f55 makes this camera obsolete in nearly every category. The f65 is the king and the f55 is not too far behind

April 14, 2014 at 5:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaye

Yea, I don't understand why Panasonic is making a cam for this category. Should be in the URSA and AJA camera range at $5-8k.

April 14, 2014 at 7:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bwhitz

And there still may be. But first things first.

April 15, 2014 at 4:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

120fps 4k internal. Rep confirms in the video.

April 14, 2014 at 12:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pat

I believe the internal 4k is for AVC-ULTRA 4K, not RAW, as the RAW recording is not done internally.

April 14, 2014 at 12:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The question was regarding 4k RAW, not the internal compressed 4k.

April 14, 2014 at 12:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

Finally, a real camera with great customer support and professional broadcast experience!!! Win win win...butim still ordering an URSA :)

April 13, 2014 at 10:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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InDaHouse Produ...

Although this is a very nice camera, and it's cool that it's modular and has the 2/3rd inch sensor if you need it, I am curious as to why it costs so much? Granted, it's a straight up pro-camera, but why would someone choose this camera over a Red Dragon with roughly $20k in gear add ons?

Granted, every camera system has its own unique look, but is the Panasonic VariCam really going to look better than the Red Dragon? I guess we'll see soon enough. Kinda interesting that they has ZERO footage from the camera to show at NAB.

April 14, 2014 at 12:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Neil

I have read that the Varicam prices aren't set in stone. As to what happens when it comes out, I am not sure even Panasonic management knows. On specs, it's an F55 equivalent, which is about $40,000-$45,000 when fully kitted out. Could it be superior on build? On work flow? It's yet to be determined and quantified.
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I would think your average production company would rather own 4-5 AJA Cion units with EF Cine lenses than one Varicam. What may work against Sony is that it's a general competitor for the other Hollywood studios and they would prefer to do business with someone else or, at worst, negotiate the gear acquisition from the position of strength by pitting two major hardware companies against each other.
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PS. Red and BMD, while fairly even or even superior on specs or specs-per-dollar value, have had some serious reliability and quality control problems in the past, of which, the promised delivery date was only one issue. Arri doesn't have a 4K cam yet. Canon's Cinema line is more popular with reality TV.

April 14, 2014 at 2:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

When there's the Arri Amira or Sony F5 for way less I don't see who in his sane mind would buy such a camera...

April 14, 2014 at 1:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mariano

below $60K? well, keep it Panasonic, I don't want it

April 14, 2014 at 1:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joffrey The King

Wow...Steve is a little cocky prick in that video. He dismisses anyone walking around in a t-shirt interviewing people. Did you see that micro expression at the end when he looks at Joe's shirt/ID badge to see who he's with, and wonder if its someone he should really be talking too.

And he really likes to say "Episodic". ha!

But, anyways...nice camera, amazing specs.

April 14, 2014 at 2:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rod

Funny, but I don't see any of that and your comment is unnecessarily rude and condescending. He seemed enthusiastic and if anything concentrating not to leave anything out. I think your derisive comment about the rep has nothing to do with him but says a lot more about you and your own obvious insecurities and defensiveness. Micro expression, lol.

April 14, 2014 at 9:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Max

Max...I mean Steve, is that you?

lol

April 14, 2014 at 2:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nick

Well, as always, you pay for what you get. The previous Varicams had a gorgeous image and I'm doubting this is going to be anything less. The price is pretty much were it should be and I wouldn't be surprised if this thing is going to be challenging the almighty Alexa in the future.

April 14, 2014 at 3:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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johnny

"Well, as always, you pay for what you get."

Not in 2014. It's a different game now if you haven't noticed...

This phrase needs to be re-booted.

April 14, 2014 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bwhitz

I have noticed. And it's great that these companies are pushing down the prices in the industry, but this camera isn't cheap because it has been developed with time and taking things in consideration, which usually leads to a good product. It's not a half-ass BM camera that was thrown together quickly just to make a fuzz at the show.
I take it you've noticed that most of the big budget features and high end stuff are getting filmed with cameras that really are expensive, and the reason for that is quality in every aspect of the camera. That's why you really do pay for what you get. Not saying I wouldn't love it to have this kind of a camera for $10k, but were not quite there yet.

April 15, 2014 at 4:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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johnny

Probably the best camera feature wise, at the show but the price killed it even before it gets to market.

April 14, 2014 at 6:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nigel

It looks like Panasonic wants this to be a replacement for the myriad of 3-chip 1080p cameras that have ruled the studio/broadcasting industry for about a decade. For that, the ability to shoot for hours in a row into a compressed codec not much different from the H.264 counts for a whole lot.

April 14, 2014 at 8:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Under $60k?

So, $59,999.99?

April 14, 2014 at 11:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Bertzie

I couldn't be less interested in this camera. "Under 60K". Why in the world would someone consider paying so much for this camera when there are so many other options available. Great specs + terrible price point.

April 14, 2014 at 12:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Shayne

It seems like a lot of the people commenting here have never worked in the broadcast industry...

April 14, 2014 at 1:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gurung

You got that right!

April 14, 2014 at 2:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I have, for many years, but the landscape has changed considerably. Budget is a BIG issue now

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

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Nigel

way too much money considering epic, amira, f55, and all the newcomers... It would have to be Alexa quality/color and then some to take a significant market share. They need to rethink price before they launch this thing.

April 14, 2014 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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steve

Personally, I look at a camera like this as something that will be highly useful about 5 to 10 years from now when new delivery codecs, better bandwidth and other innovations finally become pervasive enough to make delivering the images it produces actually feasible. A lot of people here love image quality, and I do too, but the truth is, the images coming out of the once loved, now maligned, h.264 shooting, 4:2:0, 2 megapixel, 1920 x 1080, line skipping, pixel binning Canon 7D, undergo serious degradation before any type of internet delivery currently available in 2014. Most youtube users won't even click the 1080 button and Vimeo's compression is either 720p or a very dubious 1080. 4k, 2k, 11 stops DR, 16 stops DR....It all looks the same to my mom.

April 14, 2014 at 4:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Derek

In case someone missed the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's speech at the NAB - and I assume most have, including myself - the implication was that the gob'mint wants to buy and then auction off the broadcasters OTA frequencies for the wireless communications sector in exchange for favorable rulings on net neutrality and the subsequent high speed internet availability to any streamer and subscriber. The technology to go above 1 Gbps is already here, so that US average 8 Mbps download could instantly become 50 and 100. And then, with HEVC, one could easily enjoy a very high quality 4K stream. (for which one does not necessarily need a 4K TV, by the way).
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And, if that situation is to unfold in such a way, 4K is a must for most local and national channels.

April 14, 2014 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

6 years from now most of Europe, Japan Korea and possibly China will be doing compressed 8k over the air.
This will still be the way 90% of their customers will watch TV in 2020. Their markets are dominated if not outright controlled by govt owned channels, so mandating a transition isn't an issue.
The US will have graduated to 4K via non-TV sources in only some metro areas. Here in LA for example - good luck upping the last-mile bandwidth to handle even HVEC streams. You MIGHT have 4K over the air by then.
4K+ is a HUGE headache for satellite broadcos unless the entire chain is converted to HEVC or BETTER. They only just got their heads around 1080 at 1.5/3Mbit and are juggling channels to even manage that.
I love Google, but their fiber efforts are destined for HUGE roadblocks in bigger markets. Weirdly, I'd trust Amazon to deliver it if it was in their interest - they know state by state politics, physical infrastructure and logistics. Sadly, it is currently only of marginal interest to them.
I loved Netflix talking up their 4K streams, then a month later doing a deal (with a cable company!) to get better bandwidth. That's a future a lot of vested parties look upon smacking their lips. Net neutrality essentially died that day.

April 15, 2014 at 3:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

Here's the most recent - released yesterday - chart of how fast or slowly Netflix streams across the US ... not a pretty picture, so to say ...
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http://betanews.com/2014/04/14/netflix-releases-monthly-isp-speed-test-c...

April 15, 2014 at 8:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

From horse's mouth - (more ISP's included) - http://ispspeedindex.netflix.com/usa
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This is still barely Full HD quality, regardless of what the individual download capacities are.

April 15, 2014 at 8:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Yep.
Even 5G wireless (which is pretty fantastic - due here in 2016) won't be the full solution simply because the amount of bandwidth needed will overwhelm that service, as it does now with 4G LTE in most metro areas.
I can see 4K origination being standard by 2017/18. But to the home in the US by then? Very unlikely except in certain areas (suburban Kansas City, metro Austin TX, metro NY etc) or if the consumer is willing to pay for ultra-premium service.
There's no compelling market case yet for it from the cable companies - the vast bulk of American households are fine with 1080/720 and won't pay for more. 5G may give them a push (if you think cord cutting is rampant now, wait til T-mobile etc gives you all you can eat data at 10 times current speed) but it may take 6G to force their hand.

April 15, 2014 at 11:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

The new Sony 4K TV lineup is announced. A major step-up here is the download availability of ~ 200 4K titles via their media player with a 1 TB capacity. That will work around the previously mentioned broadband speed limits (but not the bandwidth caps, whenever those are implemented). I'll also note that NBC/Universal has made a deal to license a bunch of their films and series to Sony Crackle streaming service. As a consequence of that, Comcast (the owner of NBC/Universal) will be far less likely to cap anything related to Sony.
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https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/sony-electronics-offers-full-4k-120000...

April 16, 2014 at 7:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD