New Panasonic Cinema Camera To Be Announced This Friday

Panasonic teased their new “Cinema Camera” at NAB 2017, where they had a mockup underneath a cover, and now a new teaser give away a few more details. The new cinema camera from Panasonic will sit between the Lumix GH5 and the Varicam LT in their large sensor hierarchy – this was both indicated in the placement of the new camera at NAB 2017, as well mentioned by Panasonic reps in interviews from the show floor. The official unveiling will be this Friday, June 2nd 4:15pm at Cine Gear Expo in LA. You may recall our post from earlier in April this year about the new Panasonic camera.

Not much has been publicly confirmed about the new camera apart from what we know from the NAB teaser, however I just want to share a few new things that you may or may not have heard or read about, such as the new official video teaser (which does and doesn’t show much at the same time, if that makes any sense) and some comments by official Panasonic reps such as Mitch Gross, who most of you are well familiar with from his previous gigs at Convergent Design and Abel Cine.

Panasonic Varicam LT Mini

Mitch Gross, now a Cinema Product Manager at Panasonic North America, said this on DVXUser.com recently:

Just a week to go. We have confirmed the Facebook Live feed. It will be on the Panasonic Pro Video Facebook page. The New Cinema Camera Preview will begin at 4:15 LA time on June 2nd.

The live feed from the event at Cine Gear is a really nice touch, especially for most of us, who are not in the US and are not going to the be present at the show. You can find the Panasonic Pro Video Facebook page here and give it a like so you can see the live feed this Friday.

There’s a lot of excitement around this camera in our community, and rightfully so – as good as the GH5 is (and I love mine), at the end of the day, a proper camcorder form factor can go a long way in the real world.

Here is what WE KNOW so far:

  • Cinematic Imagery
  • Small and Light
  • Low-cost media and workflow
  • Previewed at Cine Gear Expo in June
  • Released later in Fall 2017
    • These bullet points were listed on the Panasonic banner at NAB.

What we DON’T know (for sure):

  • Lens mount
    • Given the Sigma lens attached to the camera in the teaser, I’d say Canon EF mount, but this has not been confirmed.
    • May or may not be interchangeable (a-la Varicam LT)
  • Sensor:
    • Could very well be S35 if EF mount, but I wont be surprised to see some form of MFT to S35 electronic trickery.
    • It could be a new sensor, or as many hope – the Varicam S35 sensor from the 35 or LT, however I personally doubt it will be the same sensor.
  • Camera name:
    • It is not yet know whether this camera will be part of the Varicam family or be a separate model outside the Varicam line;
    • Given then size, which appears to be very Sony FS5-like, I doubt this camera to be sporting the Varicam badge. This however, is just my opinion.
  • Recording Codecs
    • 4K is a given, even though not confirmed, for this camera to sit above the GH5, 4K or at least UHD recording of some sorts – preferably in 10bit 422 is an absolute MUST.
    • It is not yet clear, however, whether the codec will H.264 based like the GH5 codec, or also some for of intermediate codecs such as ProRes/DNxHD.

A few days ago a DVXuser.com forum member with the username – umani, brightened up a parts of the Panasonic teaser video to reveal some interesting points about the new camera, such as a tilt-able LCD screen, 3 assignable buttons, IRIS wheel, ND filter switch, White Balance/Preset switch, Waveform button and audio control knobs. To me the operator side resembles the DVX200 a lot.

Image by Panasonic/unami (at DVXUser.com)

Looking at the image above, the size is quite compact, the handle will probably be removable, so we are potentially seeing Panasonic’s answer to the Sony FS5. Given that we know what both cameras can do, here are the specs to beat or at least match.

  • Internal 10bit 422 in 4K and UHD – from the GH5
  • 4K/60p
  • 1080p/120 continuous and even 240fps
  • Raw output for 2K and 4K – from the FS5
  • Super 35 chip
  • Sub $6,000 price tag

For me personally, the new Panasonic camera can be a real winner if they put a Super 35 sensor and an EF mount on it. The sensor may not be the Varicam one (and logic tells me it probably won’t be) since the new camera, although Panasonic refer to it as a “Cinema Camera”, is apparently focused on much broader market demo here – the one-man bands, the wedding/event guys and gals, i.e. – the sub $7-8K market that is a lot bigger than the Varicam LT/35 segment.

For a Panasonic camera to have the Varicam badge, it will need to be built like a tank (which means it will be heavy), powered by big batteries – (AB or V-mount) simply because of the increased power consumption, have a S35 chip and multiple SDI outputs for monitoring. I am not saying that the “new Cinema camera” won’t have those, but I don’t see it being a part of the Varicam line. Its intended market is way too broader and also bleeds into enthusiast territory, nothing wrong with that of course, it’s just that no enthusiast will spring for a Varicam camera that cost $16K +.

The potential price is also another indicator that this new camera is probably a part of a new line, or at least not a Varicam. It appears that the new camera will use if not the same batteries as the DVX200, at least similar ones.

And with that said, here is my WISH LIST (that is, what I would like to see) in the new model:

(NOTE: I have not been privy to any information that has not been released publicly, I am also not basing these on any rumors or leaks. I am simply making inferences from the already available information that has been shared by Panasonic or from Panasonic materials that have been released publicly. Don’t take my wish list below as gospel or any indication of what the new camera may feature, as it may not feature any of these)

  • Super 35 CMOS sensor
  • Better low-light performance than GH5
  • EF mount – and interchangeable one at that
  • 4K/60p in 10bit 422 Intra
  • IBIS – asking too much here maybe, no 🙂
  • 1080p/240fps continuous (can be in a crop mode)
  • 4K Raw output for external recorders
  • 2-3 lbs weight with small lens and no top handle
  • Decent LCD monitor
  • Long battery life
  • $5-6K price tag

Are you guys excited about Friday? Share your wish list of features for the new Panasonic camera in the comments below.

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  • Ctb.studios

    In my opinion will be a DVX200 with interchangeable lenses. Not 35mm, but 4/3 on a full body like the old AF100.
    Price: Around 5k Less then FS5 a bit more then DVX200.
    DVX200 was a disaster for Panasonic, in sales. They urgent need a replacement for it, or Panasonic will lose some market.

  • tyger11

    IBIS would be great for the ENG market, and the only ENG camera to have it.

    MFT mount with S35 sensor would give the maximum amount of options if they go with non-removable mount.

  • Syrian Black

    Besides the 10 bit 4k 4:2:2, this is basically a jvc Gyls300 smfh.

    • Levi Davis

      As far as value goes, this Panasonic may have a sensor that’s found in their high-end pro series cameras. Sony has successfully demonstrated this business plan since the release of the FS7; a camera based on the Sony F5.

      Technically, the JVC is more prosumer based; at least in terms of manufacturing specifications. However, the JVC might be the most sophisticated S35 camera on the market; outside of the electronic ND found on the FS5?

      I spent some time on the floor at NAB 2017 adjusting gamma, colors, shadows & highlights, hue and more w/ the JVC camera. Frankly, the camera looks amazing with proper exposure! From what I saw, the JVC appears to feature a lower native noise floor than the Panasonic Varicam.

      Based on my prosumer comment on the JVC camera… The JVC & Panasonic sensor may very well be an equivalent quality? For example, Canon, Nikon, and Sony manufacture many different APS-C cameras. Each camera has its own native sensor state as a means for establishing base ISO / low-light, color reproduction, and/or different dynamic range? However, the Panasonic may be able to shoot in higher frame rates, typically leading to a newer sensor iteration. (A newer sensor iteration does not always lead to a better look, in my opinion. I still love shooting on my Canon 50D w/ a Digic IV sensor over the 5D III w/ a Digic 5.)

      At this time, high-dynamic range, codec choice, and lens mount appear to be about all that sets these two cameras apart. Meanwhile, the JVC can probably turn out twice as much content in the same amount of time. That content would probably look 90 – 95% as strong as the Panasonic footage. And, at the same time, 100% of the viewers would think it was shot on the same camera. All that leads back to the sophistication of the JVC. The software, quite simply, has seen continuous advancements to better suite the professional user base.

      … Things to consider…

      • Syrian Black

        Very well said sir!

  • Gleb Volkov

    M43 sensor size will render it DOA for me. The rest I can deal with.

  • Levi Davis

    It does have a Sigma Art series lens mounted to the body. ** Makes me think S35 w/ EF mount. ** Sub 6K sounds like a sweet spot.

    Looking at Varicam LT and Varicam footage at NAB 2017, the sensor had quite a lot of grain, even at base ISO. In other words, it may be S35 and EF mount, but there may also be a lot of gripe about native noise floor levels?

    Then again, noise reduction software these days is something special. And, the frame rates are an absolutely powerful tool to work with. Plus, it will grade beautifully if push comes to shove w/ the 10-bit files; internally.

    In the end, it should be a great tool to work with.

    IBIS maybe? Like in your article. Now that would set it apart, for sure. Fingers crossed.

    • Ctb.studios

      You can always use Sigma on m43, remember that. I wish was a S35 or Full-frame but I dont think it will be. Panasonic is not used to compete directly to the market, but get something new, out of the box like they did with AF100, GH models. Lets hope for the best!

  • To compete on this segment, you need to be better than the actual offer.
    Better than a Sony FS5?
    Quite easy: Better codec in 4K, better output option, and keep the low light performance, cheap media (with higher codec, may no be so cheap) and small form factor, (Sony mount of Ef is not so big deal as we used to switch one from the other), keep the price range.
    No Vari ND I guess, but no big deal.

    I can already regret so few control button if I see the mock-up picture.

    Basically, a FS5 + High codec will already be a good news, even without the 60p
    But a availability for Fall 2017 may also revel a C200 from Canon within same range.

  • James

    I’d hope it does at least 12-bit internal, or it’s an ENG camera, not a cinema camera. Before anyone jumps on me for that comment, let me qualify it: Cinema is a 10-bit exhibition medium, and one always wants to record MORE bit depth than the exhibition medium to grade. So 8-bit is fine for 8-bit screens with very light grading. 10-bit is good for 8-bit screens (most computers, phones, TVs), with medium grading. 10-bit is good for cinema with light to no grading. 12-bit is good for everything (though in the future HDR grading will start to prefer 14-16bit).

  • Steve

    10 bit for SDR but 12-14 bits for HDR rec2020 support 4:2:2 4kp50/60, please. $2k-3k is what they should charge.

    Let’s assume it is a DVX200 brother, or replacement. Basically, they could design this with a compact zoom in such a way as to make the 200 redundant, and kick BM around the yard.

    6k?

    I agree there is possibility for a new sensor. Panasonic’s organic sensor was not available for the gh5, but maybe it is now.

  • Jordana Leitao

    12 bit!