IBC 2014 felt reassuringly familiar this year. Unlike this year’s NAB, where every corner turned seemed to have a 4K camera which left me with a headache of where to place my eggs (this one with that many stops of range, that one with a global shutter, the other one with a particular codec, etc etc etc), thankfully there weren’t too many launches, which possibly means the equipment we bought just last year or this year is still very much valid and contemporary. Yay say we and no doubt yay say our clients!
But back to what there was launched at IBC. I said it felt familiar as for the first time in a while, the camera I felt was the most exciting in terms of usability, capability and of course cost, was the Sony PXW-FS7.
No doubt if you’re reading this you’ll probably already know all this camera but some of the features that caught our attention include the fact it can record 4K internally (in both 3840 and eventually 4096), can continuously record up to 180 frames per second (albeit in only HD but still…) without the inherent pre-buffering the FS-700 suffers. It has what appears to be the same sensor as the PMW-F5, which means, if that is the case, the colour space will be amazing. And finally, 14 stops of dynamic range. 14! Wow.
In terms of down sides, the camera unit may be a pain depending on how much you dislike Sony menu systems. Oh, and I’m not thrilled by having to purchase a stack of XQD cards when our existing SxS cards will be plenty fast enough but hey, it’s Sony, right!
Whatever the case, this camera will be a must-have for us and our order is already in.
Sony also launched the PXW-500 – a rather nice pimped-up version of the near classic PMW-500. Like the latter, it’s a broadcast standard 2/3” shoulder mount camera with a B4 broadcast lens mount. It also shoots to SxS cards. So it’s every bit a PMW-500 with the exception of the impressive frame speeds – the PXW-500 can record a very decent 120 frames per second which, for a shoulder mount of that size and style, is actually a wonderful spec to have on the camera.
However, broadcast shoulder mount cameras are a bit ‘yesterday’ in terms of what people want and given that the PXW-FS7 can record 180 frames per second, with a larger sensor, and can be done internal without the possible need for an external recorder, and all for a price that is likely to be cheaper (in terms of both hire or purchase) then, as good as the camera is, it may not find the market it would have had two-or-three years ago. But still, good to have Sony back at a trade show with something that’s genuinely exciting.
Panasonic also displayed a fully working camera in the 4K Varicam 35. This is not a new camera but the functions listed at NAB were unclear. It is impressive, as is its TV production version, the Varicam HS. The nutshell version of both cameras is this: They are capable of wonderful slow-mo (the Varicam HS can shoot up to 240 frames per second and the Varicam 35 can shoot 120fps). Both cameras have the capabilities of shooting in multiple codecs too, both boasting AVC Intra codecs as well as Apple Pro Res.
However, bearing in mind there is little change in the pocket after shelling out anywhere from £20k/£25k/£30k per camera (you will almost certainly need the external RAW recorder and viewfinders which are additional costs). I really don’t know who will pre-order these cameras in the hope of making a return to the financial outlay. What was nice was having another play with the GH4. Now that’s a camera with a market.
Elsewhere at IBC, I was most impressed with the [unmanned aerial systems specialist] DJI stand. We have taken stock of far-east Asian products that are not from Japan, and there have been occasions when we have struggled for parts/repairs/support etc but DJI seem to have that covered.
With multiple offices worldwide, finding support should the need arise needn’t be a problem. At least that’s my hope as I am fascinated by aerial systems. I particularly like the Phantom 2 with stabiliser for a Go-Pro camera.
Staying on the DJI stand is the DJI Ronin; I suppose you could call it their version of the already popular Movi 10 gimbal. I must admit I found it quite easy to use. In fact, I would go as far to say that the visit to the DJI stand was my favourite stand across the entire trip to IBC.
A big mention must also go to Atomos. I’m not a fan of external recorders – they are a means to an end in my opinion. However, the Atomos Shogun is a really nice bit of kit. It has wonderful resolution as a monitor in its own right as well as 4K and RAW recording via BNC or HDMI inputs.
We use the Atomos Ninja Blade for DSLR to Pro Res recordings and it works like a charm (HDMI input only). The Shogun is just the next step up, but a big step.
I really liked the IO Industries 2K Flare mini cam. This is not a new camera (launched at NAB earlier this year) but I mention it as they now have a new 4K version, which is great but it’s the size that’s important and the dimensions on the 2K Flare is what makes it a stand out product (just 63.5 x 63.5 x 44.1 mm). It also has a global shutter and a decent sensitivity range. Very nice!
From the small to the large, the Arri Amira 4K demo was really something. Stunning in fact. There’s not much one can say about the Amira that hasn’t been said already, but seeing the 4K shot and displayed really does make it a class of its own.
I also took another look at the AJA CION. I was hoping to find it had developed from the original launch from NAB. Sadly, not yet. I expect in the near future there will be a CION² or CION X (or something like that). In any case, if they truly are to refer to the CION as a production camera then it must come with selectable ND filters over the sensor. A Hirose output would also be necessary and a second recording slot for the Data Pak (there’s only one in case you didn’t know) to allow continuous recording wouldn’t be bad either, but a few minor tweaks to that camera and it might just be the camera to rule all else.
Danny Dawson is General Manager at Alias Hire.
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