A gaggle of pro cameras at NAB 2014

Posted By Tom Coughlin on April 29, 2014 06:41 am | Permalink
Content capture is where the rush of content storage begins. At the 2014 NAB show, new cameras and storage devices support greater frame-rates, higher bit depth and more cameras. This piece will talk about the new production cameras for 4K and technology demonstrations for 8K content capture. 

Arri was showing its Amira documentary-style camera, initially introduced at the 2013 IBC. The Amira records HD (1080) or 2K images with high dynamic range (14 stops) and with speeds up to 200fps. In order to support the high data rates required for 200fps the Amira uses SanDisk Extreme Pro C-Fast 2 compact flash memory cards. These cards provide up to 120GBs of storage capacity and data transfer speeds up to 450MB/s. The Amira aims at the market currently filled by cameras such as the Canon c300 and the Sony F5.

Codex announced that it is working with Panasonic to deliver a compact high-speed 4K uncompressed Codex Vault RAW recorder for Panasonic's VariCam 35 camera, supporting V-RAW data rates up to 120fps. The device directly connects with a VariCam 35 camera providing a compact and lightweight camera recording solution. The product will be released in Autumn 2014.

Panasonic unveiled its 4K VariCam professional video camera, which shoots in 4K RAW with 4K frame rates up to 120fps. The company also introduced a 2/3-inch VariCam high-speed camera that does 1080p up to 240fps. The VariCam supports expressP2 cards for 4K/24p and microP2 cards for HD and 2K. The company's camera recorder module is interchangeable between both these cameras.

Sony introduced a DSLR camera, the a7S with a 12.2 megapixel sensor for HD recording up to 120fps and 4K recording through HDMI to an external recorder. Ikegami had a number of high-resolution cameras on display, as did JVC. Grass Valley revealed a camera for the live-sports market, the LDX 4K camera including 3X and 6X slow motion.

Vision Research is known for its specialty cameras, particularly high speed cameras known for their use in slow-motion video. At the 2014 NAB show, the Phantom Flex4K cinema camera sported a super-35mm 4K sensor with low noise and high dynamic range. It is capable of shooting from 15fps up to 1,000fps at 4K and up to 2,000fps at 2K/1080p.  The CineMag IV recording unit has capacities up to 2TBs.  

AJA introduced the CION 4K/UHD and 2K/HD production camera.   This product can capture up to 12 stops of dynamic range with high quality recording of 4K (4096x2160), UHD (3820x2160), 2K (2048x1080) and HD (1920x1080) video with frame rates up to 120fps in 4K or UHD. The CION uses SSD cards to provide up to 512GBs of storage capacity

Blackmagic Design's Ursa camera includes dual RAW and ProRes recorders with a 35mm 4K sensor and 12 stops of dynamic range and records 4K at 60fps. The dual recorders use the SanDisk CFast memory cards (like the Arri Amira camera). These features are supplied in a camera with a base price of less than $6,000.

8K was on display from NHK at the 2014 NAB Futures Exhibits and Ikegami had an 8K technology exhibit. Content capture at 4K is moving more into the mainstream and is starting to appear in workflows and finished content. The next generation of 8K content, probably to be introduced early in the next decade, is already in early stages of development. NAB provides a window on current products and future video developments.