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Passing into a new decade, people are constantly
asking what the future holds. Everyone wants to
know what new camera, product or technology will
impact the future. I am one of those people who get to
see the future in what lies in what is here, now.
After I take a look at current cameras, lenses and
related technology, I am going to close by surprising
you with my pick for today's hottest technology.
While every other manufacturer has been leaving tape
behind on their higher-end products, Sony bucked the
trend to release the first 10-bit tape based HD camcorder, in the SRW-9000 -- basically an HDCAM SRW-1
deck with the F23's imaging system mounted directly
on it. Sony will offer an optional 35mm sensor upgrade
and digital recording capability for the SRW9000 camera
by the end of the year, along with a 25% cut in the
price of SR tape stock.
In December, Sony announced "SR 2.0," an updated
recording system based around HDCAM SR that will
allow for various compression levels, a solid state recording
module, direct access to the "native" HDCAM
SR codec in MXF wrapped MPEG-4 SStP (Simple Studio
Profile), and a 220Mbps "delivery" version of the SR codec
via Gigabit Ethernet.
Sony's XDCAM team has also recently
updated their offerings with the shouldermount
version of the venerable XDCAM EX
(the PMW-350), as well as the new PDW-350
XDCAM HD camera. Just as we were headed
to press, Sony also released a new solid state
professional camcorder, the HXR-NX5U,
which records AVCHD up to 24Mbps in
1080P/24, rather than an MP2 compressed
file inside of an MP4 MXF wrapper.
The Sony SRW-9000
Panasonic keeps hammering away at the
high-end market. Of course, I originally
chuckled at the Varicam 3700's limited features,
yet this workhorse has, hands down,
won me over. The addition of 1080 4:4:4 capture,
and 1-60 fps as VFR on new E-series P2
cards or via dual link output changes everything,
and allows Panasonic to do in 1080 what
is a staple of the 720p workflow. The ability to
record 96K audio seals the deal on the 3700's
status as a mainline production camera usable
in multiple shooting scenarios.
Panasonic also rocked CES 2010 by showing
off a working prototype of a one-piece 3D
camera that records stereoscopically to dual,
interal SDHC/SD cards in camera. A vastly
simplified shooting technology using a single
camera to capture both streams of video,
combined with a projected $21K USD price,
and Panasonic once again has chosen to lead
stereoscopic production, much like they have
done all along in HD. I am looking forward to
testing this camera for an extended review
here on the Cow later this spring.
The Panasonic HPX-3700
When the world's top manufacturer of film
cameras decides to revamp its digital camera
line, watch out. When the new Alexa camera
system was announced last fall at IBC, you
could almost feel the ground shaking on the
show floor -- and I was 4 halls away!
ARRI came to fight, bringing a prototype
imager to the show floor with a baseline exposure
at more than 800+ ASA (2x faster than the
Sony F35), and an advertised latitude of more
than 12 stops.
With an as-yet unannounced tapeless
capture system, and ARRI's long standing reputation
for unrivaled quality and meticulous
construction, I cannot wait to get my hands on
a model for testing.
The ARRI Alexa
The ARRI Alexa is set to give every other
camera manufacturer a run for image quality and versatility
when they release their updated RAW workflow for the camera,
which is 1080/60p capable with variable frame rates, live
video out, and an HD (1280x720) optical or electronic viewfinder.
Here's hoping that the new EVF is usable on other camera
systems, as, at first glance, I found it superior to the incredible
Industry watchers, note: ARRI USA has wooed HD guru Michael
Bravin from his long-time association with Band Pro and
Sony to head up the marketing for their new camera. Things
are going to get very interesting, fast.
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