This article outlines my opinions on the cameras released on or just before NAB 2015.

It will be revised and updated at the end of NAB 2015, when I’ll reveal which cameras look the most promising – just like I did last year.

Blackmagic Design URSA Mini

Probably the most exciting camera announced so far is the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini:

Details for the URSA Mini:

The URSA series can continue to use a 4K sensor or a newer 4.6K (4608 x 2592) sensor that supposedly has 15 stops of DR.
4.6K Super 35mm sensor (25.34mm x 14.25mm), crop factor 1.4 (The 4K version has a sensor size of 21.12mm x 11.88mm)
EF and PL mounts
Dual CFast 2.0 card recorders
Compressed CinemaDNG (3:1 and 4:1) and Prores recording
5” 1920×1080 fold out LCD capacitive touchscreen
Side grip
User selectable rolling or global shutter
Bare body weight – 5 lbs (2.3 kg)

Here are the URSA models and prices (in USD):

Model Resolution EF PL
URSA 4K 4995 5495
URSA 4.6K 6995 7495
Mini 4K 2995 3495
Mini 4.6K 4995 5495

You only get the barebones body for the Mini. The following accessories were also announced:

  • VLock Battery Plate – $95
  • Mini Shoulder Kit – $395
  • Viewfinder – $1,495

The viewfinder is one of the coolest new announcements from BMD:

It has the following features:

1920 x 1080 color OLED display

adjustable diopter and built in digital focus chart

can also display overlays

Connect via SDI

Opinion:

On paper, the URSA Mini is a winner – If it offers anywhere near 15 stops of dynamic range, and without the white orbs or fixed pattern noise and the myriad of other problems customers have had to bear over the years. At this time I must advise, based on history, that it is extremely wise to wait till the first units have been shipped and cleared for problems. If it really ships before Christmas, that is.

The only major missing link is the lack of built-in ND filters. This single feature is so important, especially for a camera of this form factor.

Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema and Micro Studio

Every manufacturer is making a smaller version of their cameras (except maybe Sony, whose cameras are already small!):

 

Details for the Micro Cinema:

Price – $995

12.48mm x 7.02mm (Super 16) sensor

Maximum resolution – 1080p

Up to 30 fps with global shutter, and up to 60 fps with rolling shutter

Active MFT Mount

13 stops DR

Records to SDXC/SDHC cards

Writes to CinemaDNG (compressed) and Prores

HDMI ouptut

Details for the Micro Studio:

Price – $1,295

13.056mm x 7.344mm sensor

Maximum resolution – 3840 x 2160p30

Up to 60 fps for 1080p

Active MFT mount

No internal recording

SDI ouptuts

Opinion:

The Micro Cinema is what has caught my attention, being an upgrade to the Pocket camera. Mostly you have the same set of features, except for the option of a global shutter. So far I don’t see any need for current Pocket camera owners to upgrade – at least not until some real-world reviews are published and the cameras have started shipping.

Red 8K Vista Vision Weapon

Red announces a larger-than-full-frame 35mm sensor camera:

Details:

Full Frame / Vista Vision 40mm x 20mm ( 40.96mm x 21.6mm )
8192 x 4320 @ 75FPS
NAB price for the upgrade is $10k additional to Weapon CF or Weapon CF upgrade during NAB only. Upgrade Price when 8K ships at end of the year will be $20k.
If you order 8K now, you will receive 6K Weapon when 6K ships the beginning of July and be upgraded when 8K ships.

Opinion:

Red has thrown the gauntlet to Arri, though the size of the sensor is just a tad bigger than full frame 35mm (36mmx24mm). So most full frame lenses should just about cover this image circle as well. As with all things Red it is prudent to wait and watch!

Red 6K Weapon

This one comes in both carbon fiber and Magnesium.

Details for Carbon Fiber:

$49,500 Brain + Media Bay + CF Sidekick + Magnesium PL mount

Trade-in credit amount:

– If you already own a EPIC CF DRAGON, your trade-in credit towards WEAPON CF is $22,500 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit. If you purchase Epic CF After NAB
begins, your trade in credit is $20,000 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit
– If you already own a EPIC-M DRAGON your trade-in credit towards WEAPON CF is $17,500 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit. If you own Epic-M Dragon After NAB
begins, your trade in credit is $15,000 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit
– If you already own EPIC-X DRAGON, your trade-in credit towards WEAPON CF is $15,500 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit. If you own Epic-X Dragon After NAB
begins, your trade in credit is $13,000 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit.
– If you own SCARLET-X DRAGON before NAB, credit towards WEAPON is $5000 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit. If you own Scarlet-X Dragon After NAB
begins, your trade in is $2500 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit .

New Weapon camera orders will only receive the $5000 Weapon accessory credit during the week of NAB.

– Simultaneous R3D and Apple Prores recording in-camera
– Records R3D and scaled version of same footage as ProRes. For example 6K master, and 2K ProRes up to 120fps.
– Files recorded simultaneously to same media
– Consistent naming and internally accurate timecode (easier workflow than external recorder)
– Apple ProRes 4444XQ, 4444, 422HQ, 422 or 422LT
– As well as tethered streaming ProRes – ProRes recorded proxy can be sent to Ethernet, while R3D master sent to media
– 33x33x33 3D LUTs
– Faster Data throughput. Up to 50% higher data rates to card. Existing RED MINI-MAG 512GB cards are already ready for transfer speed increase
– Dual monitor ports on Brain for EVF/LCDs.
– Automatic sensor calibration. Select exposure times from 1/8000s to 1/8s without calibrating. Wider operating band for sensor temperature
– Better thermal management, Lower fan noise with no front fans and more stable operating temperature
– Integrated top-plate
– Integrated wireless control connectivity
– Interchangeable and removable I/O options with accessible port placement.
– Interchangeable OLPFs with smart detection of which OLPF is installed.
– Monitor flip and mirror on all outputs, including SDI.
– Integrated dual digital front microphones

Details for Red Weapon 6K Magnesium:

$34,500 Brain + Media Bay

Trade-in credit amount:

– If you already own a EPIC CF DRAGON, your trade-in credit towards WEAPON CF is $22,500 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit. If you purchase Epic CF After NAB
begins, your trade in credit is $20,000 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit
– If you already own a EPIC-M DRAGON your trade-in credit towards WEAPON CF is $17,500 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit. If you own Epic-M Dragon After NAB
begins, your trade in credit is $15,000 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit
– If you already own EPIC-X DRAGON, your trade-in credit towards WEAPON CF is $15,500 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit. If you own Epic-X Dragon After NAB
begins, your trade in credit is $13,000 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit.
– If you own SCARLET-X DRAGON before NAB, credit towards WEAPON is $5000 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit. If you own Scarlet-X Dragon After NAB
begins, your trade in is $2500 plus a $5000 weapon accessory credit .

New Weapon camera orders will only receive the $5000 Weapon accessory credit during the week of NAB.

– Simultaneous R3D and Pro-res recording in-camera
– Records R3D and scaled version of same footage as ProRes. For example 6K master, and 2K ProRes up to 60fps.
– Files recorded simultaneously to same media
– Consistent naming and internally accurate timecode (easier workflow than external recorder)
– Apple ProRes 4444XQ, 4444, 422HQ, 422 or 422LT
– Tethered streaming ProRes – ProRes recorded proxy can be sent to Ethernet, while R3D master sent to media
– 17x17x17 3D LUTs
-Faster Data throughput. Up to 50% higher data rates to card. Existing RED MINI-MAG 512GB cards are already ready for transfer speed increase
– Dual monitor ports on Brain for EVF/LCDs.
– Automatic sensor calibration. Select exposure times from 1/8000s to 1/8s without calibrating. Wider operating band for sensor temperature
– Better thermal management, Lower fan noise with no front fans and more stable operating temperature
– Integrated top-plate
– Integrated wireless control connectivity
– Interchangeable and removable I/O options with accessible port placement.
– Interchangeable OLPFs with smart detection of which OLPF is installed.
– Monitor flip and mirror on all outputs, including SDI.
– Integrated dual digital front microphones

Opinion:

What’s special about Weapon? The ability to record Prores simultaneously is a huge deal. 3D LUTs and low fan noise is welcome, and dual monitor ports are a huge relief.

The primary USP of 6K is the ability to crop your footage, so those who like this a lot will probably prefer 8K over 6K. As the days go by we will get more details on the merits of each system. At this point it’s too early to call.

Canon C300 Mark II

I’m going to make a prediction:

This camera will sell like hot cakes. First of all, anyone who has used a C300 next to an FS700, FS7 or F5 knows which is the more simpler and ergonomic system for corporate work, weddings and documentaries. Now that Canon has added these features:

  • 4K/2K/Full HD internal and external recording (including 4K RAW output via Atomos Shogun)
  • 10-bit Canon Log 2 Gamma with 15 stops of DR
  • Dual Pixel Autofocus
  • High-speed readout for reduced rolling-shutter
  • 2K DCI/1080p60
  • Maximum ISO 102,400
  • Chromatic aberration correction on the camera’s LCD Monitor/EVF/Output display
  • Built-in dual-band Wi-Fi functionality allows for LiveView camera display at multiple locations and control of the EOS C300 Mark II camera from a Web browser

This camera is the workhorse to beat. I hope Canon announces a payment plan like it did the last time. Here’s the first short from this camera:

Panasonic AG-DVX200

What, are we back in 2006?

Details:

… 4K (4096 × 2160)/60p recording, a 13X optical zoom and a V-Log L gamma curve (12 stops of latitude, target)…

… filmic tonality and colorimetry, with natural, subtle rendering of skin flesh tones. …The camcorder will be available in Fall 2015 with a suggested list price under $5000.

…4/3” handheld camcorder (Micro-four thirds)

120fps in FHD (1080p) mode

Leica Dicomar 4K F2.8~F4.5 zoom lens (4K/24p: 29.5 mm ~ 384.9 mm, HD: 28 mm ~ 365.3mm, 35 mm equivalent),

Time-code in/out, 3G HD-SDI and HDMI 2.0 (4K) video outs, easy focus and zooming, and programmable user buttons. 

Built-in ND filters

Records to SD cards (UHS speed class 3 (U3) for 4K)

The DVX200’s three manual operation lens rings—13x zoom (Cam driven), focus and iris—will provide a comfortable manual control similar to an interchangeable lens camera, but without the need for actual lens changes. The zoom ring’s solid feel and smooth action allow delicate ultra-slow zooming. In addition, the camera’s multi-step zoom control provides fast response and smooth zoom action, yielding the creative freedom every camera operator desires. The zoom control on the handle enables variable speed zoom, allowing fine zoom control even for low angle shots.

The DVX200 also features an enhanced Image Stabilizer, including a five-axis Hybrid Image Stabilizer and 4x correction-area Image Stabilizer that produces clear images without blurring, and a micro-drive focus unit that improves focus speed, tracking and capture performance, facilitating 4K focusing and shallow focus shooting. 

The AG-DVX200 utilizes a front element lens / filter diameter of 72mm   

…The DVX200 comes with a rugged woven carbon,fiber-like finish, and the recording section is distinctively styled with crimson shading.

Opinion:

Details are sketchy at this point, though it looks like an upgrade to the AF100. Why didn’t they call it the HVX200? Wasn’t DVX supposed to stand for DV?

Anyway, I think this is a good move. Is there a fixed-lens large sensor camcorder around? No. Panasonic just filled that gap. This is a camera that is on-par with the Canon C100 Mark II, except the C100 doesn’t shoot 4K. Tt’s closest competitor would be the JVC LS300.

Those coming from DSLR backgrounds expecting large sensors will not find this camera attractive, and it’s not for them anyway. It’s for those to whom the original DVX100 and the HVX200 were life savers. It’s only once you play with a camera like this you understand its place. Imagine just picking up something and shooting – no rigging, no need to worry about lenses, simultaneous backup and now with a 5-axis image stabilizer and V-log. This camera is important for the very reasons the newly announced Canon XC10 is disappointing.

What could be better? I really wish the lens was better. 29mm is not wide enough (but maybe it is, I’m sure by now they know what people really use), but otherwise everything is in line with what a professional reporter, ENG or documentary shooter needs on a run-and-gun basis. I hope there is Wi-Fi streaming, extra long battery life and good audio.

I think this camera will do okay in the marketplace.

Sony HDC-4300

This one is for the broadcasters:

  • world’s first camera to use three 2/3-inch 4K image sensors
  • B4-mount
  • 400 fps at 1080p
  • support for ITU-R BT.2020 broadcast standard’s widened color space

Sony also updated its 320 series with the new PXW-X320.

Opinion:

Like I said, it is for broadcasters with deep pockets! However, one thing is for certain: The XAVC codec is now adopted and entrenched. With Canon, too, adopting H.264 we herald the age of H.264 as the acquisition codec – all thanks to DSLRs!

Canon XC10 4K

Watch this video:

The skin tones are awful. For a camera that costs $2,499, it is unforgivable. Nothing more to say.

Ikegami SHK-810 8K Broadcast Camera

This broadcast camera is special:

Details:

The 810 is designed for the 2020 Olympics…that’s when NHK believes 8K will be mainstream. Here are its features:

  • 33MP 3CMOS Super35mm sensor
  • PL lens mount
  • SMPTE fiber output to a Camera Control Unit (CCU)
  • Weight of camera – 9kg. Weight of CCU – 30 kg
  • Limit Resolution (I have no clue what this means) – 4,000TVL horizontal and vertical

Opinion:

The fact that it has a Super35mm sensor with a PL mount cannot be understated. This is a camera that has been designed for multiple industries, including cinema. Unlike Red’s 8K Weapon, this sensor can take most Super35mm lenses (as long as they can resolve 8K).

I’m not sure when Ikegami will start selling these, and how much it will cost. But expect it to be more expensive than buying a house – or a whole street.

Final Thoughts

Many of the manufacturers on this page have treated their loyal fans (and paying customers!) poorly over the years – to say the least. Huge marketing campaigns and hype but late deliveries, firmware issues, poor quality control, and so on. They have earned my skepticism.

They want your money upfront, but like to say “aw shucks, we’re the little guy”. This is only acceptable if they haven’t taken your money, but they do. This has become a trend – almost a business and marketing plan that even the major manufacturers have started to follow.

The only two companies that continue to deliver are Arri and Canon. Actually, they under-promise and over-deliver. This NAB, my vote goes to the Canon C300 Mark II and the Arri Alexa Mini, both announced before NAB.

What do you think? Which camera will you be buying?

4 replies on “My Thoughts on the New Cameras and Gear Announced at NAB 2015”

  1. It’s always great to read these info articles but what’s missing is any real commentary about what it’s like to USE the cameras.  Clearly the author of this review is a huge fan of Canon and the http://stat.dealtime.com/DealFrame/DealFrame.cmp?bm=271&BEFID=87204&acode=281&code=281&aon=&crawler_id=1930865&dealId=P95LoH45LMal5Hc02wLlxg%3D%3D&searchID=&url=http%3A%2F%2Frover.ebay.com%2Frover%2F1%2F711-56844-1854-0%2F2%3Fkwid%3D1%26mtid%3D545%26crlp%3D1_240291%26linkin_id%3D%7Blinkin_id%7D%26sortbid%3D%7Bbidamount%7D%26fitem%3D331230190034%26mt_id%3D545%26mpre%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.ebay.com%252Fitm%252Flike%252F331230190034%26mid%3D503280%26sdc_id%3D%7Bsdc_id%7D&DealName=Shape%20Canon%20C100%20C300%20C500%20Evf%20Shoulder%20Mount%20C300evfr&MerchantID=503280&HasLink=yes&category=0&AR=-1&NG=1&GR=1&ND=1&PN=1&RR=-1&ST=&MN=msnFeed&FPT=SDCF&NDS=1&NMS=1&NDP=1&MRS=&PD=0&brnId=2455&lnkId=8070676&Issdt=150423050316&IsFtr=0&IsSmart=0&dlprc=977.65&SKU=331230190034 but, as a DP who started in the industry on 16 & 35mm cameras and has used just about every camera that’s come up since then, I find the Canon a very awkward and uncomfortable camera to use – especially in regard to the camera’s viewing system and form factor.  It’s great when the camera is kept on sticks with hooded monitors and all the other popular accouterments but not so much when it’s used hand-held in a moving active set or situation.

    I’ve also used the F5 and F55 and instantly found them easier to operate (set up) and operate (use.)

    I’ll continue to read these articles and hope that in the future the “reviews” go beyond the 4K/2K/Full HD internal and external recording (including 4K RAW output via Atomos Shogun) specs and HONESTLY describe what it’s like to actually use the camera(s) in the field (not on the bench.)

    Just for info purposes – the type of work I do is for Geographic, Discovery Nets, Smithsonian, PBS.

  2. The http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?toolid=10029&campid=CAMPAIGNID&customid=CUSTOMID&catId=625&type=2&ext=371299625282&item=371299625282 MK11 is “Cropped 2K at 120fps isn’t bad, but it is outclassed by the http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?atclk=Category_Professional+Camcorders&sts=ma&ci=16763&N=4291215468+4256818791&Ntt=Sony+FS7&BI=5955&KBID=6829 which can go all the way to 180fps, and can also do 4K at 60fps.” It has some nice new bells and whistles but Sony FS7 uses the F5 Sensor, the F5 and F55 codecs, does 4K RAW out the back and and at a whopping 8 THOUSAND DOLLARS US less. The new Canon might be the winner at NAB but the FS7 is by far the better bargain, in addition to likely being a superior camera with a greater range of shooting options. They are really close but the Sony I think has the edge, and really a no brainer at its price point. The Canon 300 ran over the http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?toolid=10029&campid=CAMPAIGNID&customid=CUSTOMID&catId=625&type=2&ext=141619141906&item=141619141906 for sure, but its new offering from Canon is too little too late and WAY too expensive.

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