It’s not just that the camera market overall is way too saturated with new players coming in left and right, but it feels like almost every segment is getting extremely competitive. We’ve all seen the havoc the Sony FS7 wreaked in the sub-$10K camera range, shattering all previous expectations of what features a camera priced at $8K should have, and hey don’t get me wrong we ain’t complaining – at the end of the day the more headaches manufacturers cause for each other in the name of competition, the better for us. Even prosumer lands is going up in flames with the introduction of again another Sony interloper, or rather multiple ones – The RX10 II and pocket sized RX100 IV are already getting a lot of attention due to the sheer amount of advanced technology and 4K on board recording they’re getting in the $1,000 and slightly sub-$1K range. And I have a feeling the we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. In the coming summer months we’ll see more footage from the earth-shattering 4K Sony Alpha 7RII, but more on that some other time… this post is about Panasonic. While they might have brought out the GH4 as the first truly affordable 4K camera, and rolled out their flagship 4K Varicam 35, it seems as especially in the case of the Varicam, the camera’s potential might have been somewhat overshadowed by other more flashy announcements in the higher end segment like the ARRI Alexa MINI, or the new RED Weapon.
I am quite fond of the whole concept of the Varicam 35 and HS. Two heads, one recorder. Super 35 CMOS, modular concept, PL mount, 14+ stops DR, dual native ISO’s, dual recording – the Varicam 35 ticks pretty much all the boxes for major film or TV production. TV drama pilots are already shooting on the Varicam, and we’ve seen some really nice footage from the camera beforehand.
Today’s there’s even more. Recently, the Varicam 35 was used by Director of Photography Nick Dance, who worked with BAFTA winning Director Peter Nicholson on his new crime thriller currently in development entitled “Swilly Girl”.
The first trailer for “Swilly Girl” was shot on the VariCam 35 in 4K quality. When asked about his experience with Panasonic’s new 4K Varicam, Dance said the following:
“The camera has a very filmic look and not hash like some of the other 4k cameras. I think the duel native ISO settings are a game changer. The first 4 “dusk / night” shots of the Promo were shot at 5000 ISO and the first 2 shots were at 50 fps, all shot with available light, with hardly any noticeable noise (we viewed / graded in the 4k Onsight theatre). These shots would have been unachievable previously. I also think both the camera and Fujinon Cine lenses are a perfect combination, especially the 14.5-45 which has a stop of T2. 5000 ISO is a game changer, the sky’s the limit now (and that is the starlit sky!), it really gives us new creative opportunities.”
Varicam 35 Features
- 4K Super 35mm 4096 x 2160 Advanced MOS Sensor
- Dual Native ISO 800 and 5,000
- PL mount as standard
- Detachable User Interface LCD/Control Panel
- 14+ Stops of Dynamic range
- Variable Frame Rates — 1 to 120 fps in 4K
- Dual Recorder
- Records simultaneous 4K/ 2K/Proxy, or UHD/HD/Proxy + Raw to Codex (external option)
- Apple ProRes 4:4:4:4 and ProRes HQ Built-in
- AVC-Intra Codecs — Class 100 / Class 200 / Class 4:4:4
- 2-piece Modular Design (docks to AU-VREC1G recording module)
And there’s even more awesome 4K Varicam 35 footage as the camera was used to shoot the latest music video for the band Falco Trio for the track ‘Someone to lean on’ which you can check out below.
Panasonic did an exclusive interview with Christian Kuhn – the Director of Photography for Falco Trio’s music video ‘Someone to lean on’, who had this to share about the Varicam 35:
“…Some of which include 14 f-stops and the ability to increase the recording to 5000 iso with very little noise, a feature that he describes as “quite remarkable”. With AVC Intra, the team were able to create a proxy, effectively shooting two different quality videos simultaneously.
This functionality leads to faster post-production workflow. Mr Kuhn describes his experience of the Panasonic VariCam 35 4K camcorder as “great” and “amazing”, and the images that the camcorder produces as “very beautiful” and “high quality”. He again speaks to the efficiency of the VariCam 35 as he explains that despite the fact that the camcorder was constantly in use over a 48 hour period, it used very little power. Find out more about why the VariCam is “a dream to use.”
I really like the footage from the Varicam 35, and I think the camera is flexible enought to accomodate just about any production that can afford the daily hire. The worklow is not as intensive (unless you opt for the Codex RAW recorder) and if there is one thing left to ask from Panasonic – that would be to give us the promised V-log L on the GH4 as in yesterday. For free. The upcoming DVX-200 will have it on-board upon release in October, but I can’t wait that long. The Sony A7r II is too tempting, but I really don’t want to sell my GH4 just yet… Panasonic, if you’re listening – do the right thing. Thank you.