Las Vegas is known for its buffets, and the NAB Show at the Vegas Convention Center is a grand smorgasbord of technology. The floor exhibits fill over 800,000 square feet. 92,000 attendees crowd around 1500 exhibitors showing the latest products and services in TV and radio broadcasting, film and video production and postproduction, cloud computing, entertainment technology, file-based workflows, 3D visuals, and pro audio.
NAB is a great place to see the latest digital cinema cameras, lighting, and support equipment. Nearly every major manufacturer has a booth—an odd, generic term for a space that could be ten-by-ten for a small vendor, or a mini-city for Sony or Canon or Panasonic.
NAB can also be a burnout. Because it’s the National Association of Broadcasters show, it fills a whole city block of floor space with tons of stuff in which I have no interest. I limit my traipsing up and down the aisles to newly released field (not studio) cameras and some new accessories, the geegaws and doodads that add ease and value to a cinematographer’s work. Recently, for environmental reasons, I’ve been checking out LED Fresnel lights. Admittedly, this roundup is incomplete. I never get to see everything I’d like to.
Check out the cameras in the slide show, then look below the slide show for details, product names, and prices.
- Sony released its F5 and F55 CineAlta cameras earlier this year. Outwardly, they’re virtually identical, differentiated visually only by the lens mount—on the F55 it’s silver-colored, and on the F5 it’s black. Internally, the major difference: the F55 records 4K internally or through an external recorder, but the F5 only records 4K externally. Also, only the F55 has a global shutter, which “presents a definitive edge over any digital cinema camera currently available,” completely eliminating “undesirable artifacts like wobble, skew and smear.” Big difference in street price: The F55 sells for about $29,000, the F5 for about $16,500, each without lens, viewfinder, or external recorder.
- PMW-F5 CineAlta camera
- PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K camera
- Arri has so far resisted the 4K sensor trend for its industry-leading Alexa digital cinema camera (“ARRI Says: Don’t Believe the [4K] Hype”). They showed the Alexa XT Plus (one of the somewhat smaller-bodied Alexas which incorporate internal Arriraw recording), as well as a variety of slick camera accessories. Price for the basic Alexa model was recently reduced to under $45,000.In the Arri catalog at the show, a top exec says “When 4K is truly ready, we will be too.”
- Alexa XT Plus camera
- “When 4K is truly ready, we will be too.”
- Wireless Compact Unit WCU-4
- Ultrasonic Distance Measure UDM-1
- Director’s Viewfinder
- GoPro, as usual, showed an odd collection of mannequins dressed as adventurers, athletes, or firefighters, all wearing their little GoPro Hero3 cameras on various parts of their bodies. In addition, they exhibited a souped-up outdoor-sports vehicle sporting a couple of cameras, pandering more to the dune buggy crowd than photographers. At $200, the Hero3 is a consumer product often used by pros, who often buy them by the armload. But once GoPro shows you (again) how easily you can rig one … anywhere, they seem to run out of things to say. GoPro also offers fun-looking, dual-camera 3D rigs.
- Hero3 camera
- Blackmagic last year showed their Black Magic Cinema Camera, an odd little box with 2.5K sensor, internal digital recorder, a monitor built in to the side, and a price point around $3000. This year, they’ve upgraded the Cinema Camera to a 4K sensor (and a $4K price). Again this year I stepped up to to the BMCC, wowed over the small size and price, loved the monitor on the side … then started to wonder how I would shoot a scene that had critical focus, on a camera without a viewfinder. As I stepped away from the demo camera at the show, someone much shorter stepped up and had difficult seeing the image on the monitor. Without a viewfinder or adjustable-angle monitor, this little box seems limited in application. New this year: the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, an even smaller box with internal RAW recording and Super-16 sensor … for $995. The Pocket Camera is crazily small. Some of the configurations shown (with long lenses, follow focus, and mattebox rigs) seem ridiculously lopsided—huge lens mounted to a tripod, tiny camera clamped on the end. I’m sure some folks will use the Pocket Cinema Camera like this, but the diminutive size is not much advantage with maximized glass and accessories.
- Cinema Camera
- Pocket Cinema Camera
- Red always likes to make a big splash at trade shows. This year, they showed their new Red Dragon 6K camera, but in a very limited way. They actually built an atmospherically controlled cleanroom fabrication setup and were building Dragon cameras right there on the show floor. But it was all a little odd. For the whole time I was around the Red booth, the cleanroom was empty and no one was making Dragons. There were only one or two to look at on the floor, and we couldn’t get very close to them. Epic-M Dragon body only from Red, starting at $31,200.
- Dragon 6K camera
- Canon has expanded its barrier-busting EOS DSLR line, this year showing the super-expensive 1DC (with 4K sensor, street price around $12,000 for the body only), as well as the 5D Mark III ($3500), the smaller 6D (an entry-level full-size sensor camera, at $2000), and the inexpensive Rebel T4i ($800). The 5D Mark III, new spawn of the venerable Mark II (which turned many people’s heads about the possibilities of DSLR video, but was limited by its own inadequate processing capability to 12 minute takes), now records up to 30 minutes at one gulp. They also showed their recently released C500 camera ($26,000 body only), the 4K big brother to their popular C300 ($16,000 body).
- EOS 1DC DSLR
- EOS 5D Mark III DSLR
- EOS 6D DSLR
- EOS Rebel T4i DSLR
- C500 4K camera
- Cinema Zoom lenses
- Phantom cameras continue to impress. Vision Research has long manufactured these specialized video cameras that captured at high speeds for slow-motion playback. Lately the image quality on their entire line has improved to the point where their cameras can work for principal photography as well. The Miro LC320S can shoot up to 1500 fps on the 1920×1080 HD format and sells for $25,000 to $70,000, depending on configuration. They also showed the Flex 4K, which comes out in October and can record raw images up to 1000fps, with a price tag around $140,000, as well as the older Phantom Flex (up to 10,750fps on HD format, $50,000 tp $150,000)
- Miro LC320S lightweight 2K camera
- Flex 4K camera 1000 fps at full resolution
- Flex 2.5K camera 5-2570 fps at 1920×1080
- JVC hasn’t moved beyond the HD-for-ENG market with their cameras, but they’ve covered that area well. I’ve long been an admirer of the long-and-narrow design of their cameras, rather than the short-and-squat model design often forced by the large sensor size cameras of our era. Long-and-narrow fits on the shoulder, often without a brace. The Alexa and the new Sony F5 and F55 work this way, rather than short-and-squat (like the Red) forcing you to hold the camera out in front of you or use a heavy cage or a restricting support rig. Can you say ergonomic? Street price for the 650 around $5700, including lens.
- ProHD GY-HM650 ENG camera with Upgrade 2.0 and 1/3” sensors
- Panasonic showed their new third-generation Varicam, the PX5000, now with native AVC-ULTRA HD recording and built-in microP2 card slots. Shipping this fall, suggested list price under $28,000.They also brought a new version of their Micro 4/3 format offering, the AF100A (around $4300 for the body), and an interesting new wearable camera, the HXA100, which comes in either black or orange. Giants fans can buy both, each for about $300. Unlike the GoPro, the HXA100 consists of a small, tubular camera which attaches to eyeglasses, connected by a wire to a separate control pack you can wear on your arm. That’s it. No packs of little arms and nuts and bolts for mounting, as the GoPro comes with. Under glass, Panasonic also showed the prototype of a new 4K handheld compact camcorder. Hard to get much of a look at that.
- AF-100A Micro 4/3 camera
- PX5000 camera
- HXA100 wearable camera in either black or orange (for Giants fans)
- Prototype 4K Varicam 3 camera
- Prototype 4K handheld compact camcorder