March 11, 2016

Final Packages and Pricing Announced for the 4K Panasonic VariCam LT Camera

Panasonic VariCam LT Side 1
As the VariCam LT from Panasonic gets closer to release, we now have final pricing info.

The VariCam LT 4K Super 35mm camera is the low-end version of their flagship VariCam 35, and while that camera retails in the $40,000-$50,000 range, this new one will be far more in the realm of affordability, especially as it comes standard with a Canon EF mount. Panasonic will not only be releasing a base package (if you want to use your own external monitor or viewfinder), but you'll be able to buy full packages that contain everything you need. In addition, while I mentioned that media cost was going to be an issue with this camera, the 256GB expressP2 cards that you'll need are going to retail for $1,150, a lot less than what they were initially. (One card lets you record up to 90 minutes of 4K/4:2:2 content at 24 fps.)

Here are the packages they are going to be offering, which will be available sometime next month:

  • $16,500VariCam LT Base: Includes Canon EF Mount, Control Panel, Top Handle
  • $21,600VariCam LT-VF: Includes Canon EF Mount, Control Panel, Top Handle, and OLED Viewfinder
  • $25,100 VariCam LT-PRO: Includes Canon EF & PL Mount, Control Panel, Top Handle, OLED Viewfinder, Shoulder Mount, and Grip
  • $27,600VariCam LT-PROEX: Includes Canon EF & PL Mount, Control Panel, Top Handle, OLED Viewfinder, Shoulder Mount, Grip, 2 X 256GB Cards & Reader

On their own, here are the prices for the various accessories:

$5,400 — OLED Viewfinder

Panasonic Viewfinder for VariCam LT

$1,400 — Cinema-Style Shoulder Mount

Panasonic Cinema-Style Shoulder Mount for VariCam LT

$1,200 — PL Mount Adapter

Panasonic PL Mount Adapter for VariCam LT

$1,150 — 256GB expressP2 Card

Panasonic 256GB expressP2 Memory Card

$460 — P2/expressP2 Card Reader

Panasonic AU-XPD1 P2 Memory Card Drive

Footage from the VariCam LT

As we've said before, image quality with the VariCam LT will be essentially identical to the VariCam 35 as they share the same sensor, so the only real difference between the two is in the specs and maximum frame rates (4K 60fps vs 4K 120fps). Here is what we've seen so far that's been shot only with the VariCam LT:

Here's a look at stuff shot only with 5000 ISO, from Sandesh Kadur who was a part of the Africa shoot above:

Your Comment

39 Comments

I'm sure it's a great camera and one I'd love to shoot with, but it's still too much money.

March 11, 2016 at 1:22PM

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Rent...

March 11, 2016 at 2:17PM

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Pat Heine
Producer.
329

Just not sure how this camera is better than Sony's offering.. and is going to be less noisy/better in Low Light? Seems panasonic has really fallen behind.

March 11, 2016 at 1:35PM

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Jean-Marc Abela
Director, DoP, Editor
84

Great point, but what about this hypothetical: as a director, you are given a choice of what camera to use on your next feature film or commercial, the choices are the FS7, the A7SII, the F5, the FS5, or the Panasonic Varicam LT. Which one do you choose? I know which one I would choose. And please don't say Red or Alexa, they are not choices because you compared Sony to Panasonic.

March 11, 2016 at 6:01PM, Edited March 11, 6:05PM

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Derek Olson
Directomatographeditor
621

Image-wise it's more pleasing and more filmic to my eye and it looks like it could end up being the best lowlight cinema camera on the market. Definitely cleaner at 5000 iso than anything Sony has put out, bar the A7s models.

Plus, this is about as expensive as the F5 and way cheaper than the F55. I know which one I would want as an owner op.

March 12, 2016 at 11:19AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
1088

I just don't get who they are aiming at here...Too much for the indie filmmaker, and if you have a properly funded production happening, you just rent the full blown version, or an arri/red whatever...

March 11, 2016 at 1:49PM

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Shaun Ryan
Director
237

If you have the original Varicam 35 this might be a useful B/steadicam/Movi unit.
It's pricing aims straight for the Sony F5. Panavision aren't trying to move things along in any interesting way.
One of the few noteworthy capabilities is recording prores and 444 codecs without the need for a hardware upgrade, ala F5.

I have limited experience of the sensor, but it should be a step up from competitors with its dual ISO and global shutter.

March 11, 2016 at 2:02PM

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Richard L
Camera assistant, DIT, DOP
164

I don't necessarily see how it's a step up from the C300II or C500. They don't need dual ISO to get great, clean shots up to 10,000 ISO and higher.

March 11, 2016 at 6:07PM, Edited March 11, 6:07PM

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Derek Olson
Directomatographeditor
621

Doesn't have global shutter. But the only sensor to reach Alexa levels of dynamic range in independent testing with a set noise floor. Highlight rolloff is gorgeous.

March 12, 2016 at 11:22AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
1088

I agree. If I had a fully funded project I'd hire the full blown Arri. £18700 is a good bit of dosh that could be put somewhere else more vital.

March 11, 2016 at 2:16PM

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John Stockton
Filmmaker, Editor.
303

They are aiming at anyone in the market for a C300mkii. Television, commercials even high end corporate work. I've been eyeing a couple C300 mkii's for television production, but I greatly prefer the Varicam image. Can't wait to try it. That said, I'd skip the viewfinder as the cost is so much more than usable alternatives.

March 12, 2016 at 5:17PM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
505

It looks like a fantastic camera and it hits on a lot of good notes. But the heavily cropped sensor when overcranking anything over 60fps stinks. I understand they're trying not to cannibalize the Varicam35, but this is the camera Panasonic should have introduced 3 years ago. I really wish this camera could at least do 120fps in 1080p without the cropped sensor. Overcranking might not have huge place in narrative work, but it is used a ton in commercials and docs.

I love the interchangeable mounts and built-in ND's. That is a wonderful thing. And I think the curve on the Varicam looks nice. Panasonic's color science is definitely better than Sony's. I'm not so sure that it's better than RED's though.

March 11, 2016 at 2:02PM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
668

Wow those accessories are expensive. I might not be in their immediate market, but I see a lot of great alternatives for that price.

March 11, 2016 at 2:28PM

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Sebastian Kammonen
Filmmaker
431

This is what I don't understand with these higher end cameras like the one above, ok for the total retail price since it is a product aimed at pros with limited expected numbers in sales, but why would the shoulder mount have to cost 1.4k, and the oled viewfinder 5.4k? Isn't that a bit out of proportion?

March 11, 2016 at 2:38PM

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I have the F5 and I think I would buy Varicam LT over that.

March 11, 2016 at 3:32PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1890

Had this camera been available when I bought my F5, I would have considered it, for sure but, I bought the F5 because it can do 180fps in 1080 or 2K without cropping the sensor. And, it does 60fps in 4K, too. All the while recording to 10bit XAVC, which, by most accounts, Alister Chapman included, is as robust as ProRes but, 1/4 the file size. The aging F5 was, and still is, a very formidable camera in it's price range.

And, while I'm at it, can someone point me to definitive, scientific proof that Sony's color science is inferior to any other camera besides the Alexa? I can get some pretty amazing color from an Slog2 or 3 file in Resolve and I'm not an advanced colorist.

March 12, 2016 at 10:14AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1789

I am a colourist and sony's colour science sucks balls compared to panasonic

March 14, 2016 at 6:17AM

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keith
312

Still no real proof of that, though. That's an opinion, not proof. And in my opinion, your opinion sucks balls.

March 20, 2016 at 4:37PM, Edited March 20, 4:37PM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1789

Panasonic is crazy in the head. Footage looks like crap. First thing I thought when i saw the pricing of everything is that Panasonic is trying to be RED. $5,400 for a viewfinder... Lol gtf outta here.

March 11, 2016 at 4:27PM, Edited March 11, 4:27PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
1047

Turns out there's an option to buy it without the viewfinder. Coincidentally, there are also many aftermarket viewfinders available. Lol GTF outta here.

March 11, 2016 at 5:49PM

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Derek Olson
Directomatographeditor
621

Yeah: those shots of the guy running outside at night are not the best incentive to get people to take that camera seriously.

March 12, 2016 at 12:27PM

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I think we have to wait for this camera to prove itself on set to get a good idea about how it compares to the Canon C300 Mk2, RED Scarlet-W, or the Sony F5.

The NetFlix series "Master of None" was shot with the larger Panasonic Varicam 35 camera, and this new Varicam LT is expected to produce an identical image to it's bigger brother, so it's definitely worth checking out.

Master of None - Netflix HD Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bFvb3WKISk

Theo van de Sande, ASC on VariCam 35
http://www.fdtimes.com/2014/12/19/theo-van-de-sande-asc-on-varicam-35/

March 11, 2016 at 9:13PM, Edited March 11, 10:00PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30844

I really don't know why you bothered to put up a link to an ASC dude, I mean what does he know compared to all the people bitching away on this site who've never touched the camera and probably never will...

March 12, 2016 at 5:59AM

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keith
312

No 4:4:4 and No 60p in 4k. Great specs by the way

March 12, 2016 at 5:27AM

0
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what are you talking about?

March 12, 2016 at 5:54AM

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keith
312

can this camera shoot 4k 4:4:4 sampling? All i read from spec sheet it will only record 4:2:2 10bit.

March 12, 2016 at 6:50AM, Edited March 12, 6:56AM

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I think you're getting confused by what it can do signal wise and what it can internally record. So whilst it can record 422 4K internally you can use external recorders too. In 2k or HD 4444 is offered. So it is an internal recorder limitation. External recorders are available and most obvious one's are stating they're working with panasonic on it.

March 12, 2016 at 12:48PM, Edited March 12, 12:48PM

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keith
312

Varicam LT RAW format recording coming later this summer...

Odyssey7Q+ Recorder/Monitor to Support New Panasonic VariCam LT RAW Output
https://goo.gl/58WI7R

March 12, 2016 at 8:57AM, Edited March 12, 8:57AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30844

Isn't the price a bit steep?

March 12, 2016 at 12:09PM

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Speed Post Tracking
Lighting Assistant
154

not if you're a professional.

March 12, 2016 at 12:48PM

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keith
312

Compared to which cameras?

Panasonic took the sensor from their $55,000 Varicam 35 camera and put it in a $16,500 Varicam LT body, and the image produced by both cameras is the same.

This camera also has a global shutter. The only camera with a global shutter in it's price range or lower is the Blackmagic Ursa Mini, which is pretty unique, but I would not expect the same image quality from the Ursa Mini.

This camera also has two base ISO settings, 800 ISO and 5000 ISO, and from people who have shot with the Varicam 35 camera there is not a lot of difference in the image quality between 800 or 5000 ISO, which is kind of a big deal, and something that I don't think has been duplicated by other cameras. So you can mix shots made at 800 ISO with shots made at 5000 ISO and the dynamic range / color / noise will look very similar.

March 12, 2016 at 12:53PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30844

They sure are overcharging for the accessories !

March 12, 2016 at 12:24PM

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I think the accessories are from the Varicam 35 which is a $55,000 camera, which is why they are priced like this. I am sure there will be much cheaper alternatives from 3rd party companies.

March 12, 2016 at 12:30PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30844

It's interesting. I've finally got the point as a film-maker where I look at a camera like this and go "meh".

That's not to say that the Panasonic doesn't have some attractive features- clean ISO 5000 and global shutter and built in ND all sound nice. I'm sure it will be a lovely camera, but it's too little, too late, and too expensive for me.

For my shoots, this camera doesn't offer anything I need over my Scarlet MX. I just don't shoot at ISO 5000, rolling shutter causes me no problems and at all and I can live with external ND when I need it.

Goes to show how ahead of the game RED were back when they released the Scarlet MX, and Arri when they released the Alexa. Interesting that others are saying "yeh OK but why not just go RED/Alexa?" That's still my feeling too.

Good to see others catching up, choice is always good in the marketplace, but I made my "whole heap of cash" investment what four? five? years ago now, and I see no need to contemplate a new workhorse digital cine camera for a good while yet.

Getting comparable quality from a very light sensor head on a gimbal, with RAW recording, though, that's a whole different kettle of fish...

March 12, 2016 at 1:07PM, Edited March 12, 1:08PM

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Hywel Phillips
Director / Cinematographer
178

It's always good to have options to choose from, where you can pick the best tool for the project you need to shoot. I think this new Panasonic LT camera will do very well for broadcast and Indie feature work, but it can't shoot at high frame rates which is something that RED and Sony cameras are better suited to.

March 12, 2016 at 1:21PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30844

This interview does a good job explaining the appeal of this camera to pros...

https://vimeo.com/158017639

March 12, 2016 at 4:00PM

0
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Night shoot with a shoulder mounted Varicam LT at 5000 ISO...

Panasonic Varicam LT and My Constant Quest to Push into Night Shooting
http://filmandy.blogspot.ca/2016/03/panasonic-varicam-lt-and-my-constant...

March 15, 2016 at 8:57AM, Edited March 15, 8:57AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30844

Recently I had been looking to acquire a Canon C300 Mark II which I think is seriously overpriced for what it is (if it where $10K or at least no more than $12K I'd still consider it). However, for that kind of money I'm thinking that the VariCam LT IS the camera I'll be getting instead.

March 15, 2016 at 2:15PM, Edited March 15, 2:15PM

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Ron Marvin
Director of Photography
154

Don McAlpine ACS ASC : Shooting “Ali’s Wedding” on Panasonic’s VariCam 35
http://goo.gl/uc7ZqE

April 4, 2016 at 10:47AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30844