Looking Forward to NAB: New Cameras

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NAB is right around the corner, but the past couple days have already given us a preview of what we might expect to see there and more.  To be honest I was surprised by the two cameras that were announced this past week, as it seems like only yesterday that we were talking about the Canon C300 and RED Scarlet, and how they were bringing previously unavailable image quality to a lower price point.  Only six months before that, we were just learning about the Sony F3 with S-Log and the Sony FS100.  And it was just before NAB last year that the RED Epic started shipping.  Needless to say I thought we had already seen more than our fair share of new imaging technology, and this NAB wouldn’t have too many exciting advancements on the camera front.  (Well OK that’s a bit of a white lie – I know there’s a lot of interesting stuff coming from a variety of manufacturers (camera and accessories/software) but I can’t discuss any of it until it is officially announced!)

That was before they announced the Sony FS700 and Phantom Miro M320S. I have waited for the dust to settle a little bit on some of these camera announcements before commenting on them, but everything out there seems official, and we seem to have all the information on them we are going to get until Vegas.  

The Phantom Miro M320S

While no price point has yet to be released for this camera, I am anticipating that it will be the most affordable version of the Phantom yet.  The small form factor seems to be geared toward lightweight shooting – which typically is followed by a lower price point.  The frame rate specs also seem to denote a lower price point for this camera.  The Miro M320S shoots 1540 fps @ 1080p, while its senior – the Phantom Flex – shoots 2800 fps at the same resolution.  Those frame rates are still incredible, but show that the Miro is a parred down version of Phantom’s other, larger cameras.  However, the released specs do show that the sensor has 12-bit depth, just like the Flex – so while the camera may have a lower frame rate, it should still provide exceptional image quality.  

I should reiterate that I think this will be the "most affordable Phantom yet" – not just an affordable Phantom.  I still expect this camera to be north of $20,000.00, given that the starting price of the flex is somewhere north of $50,000.00.  That being said, the form factor of this new high speed cam excites me – look how small it is!!!  (I’m sure it also excites many action-sports shooters out there), and I look forward to seeing more about this camera at NAB.  If you would like to read more on this cameras features in the meantime, you can check out the press release.


The Sony FS700

This looks to be an incredibly interesting camera.  With a rumored price of somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000, the Sony FS700 is a 4K ready camera.  This is incredible considering we were all drooling just six months ago when the Scarlet came out offering 4K for around $15k (with all the necessary accessories).  The catch is that the 4K recording will not be enabled until a firmware update down the road and is not available for internal recording, but external recording only using the 3G SDi out.  I suspect that either this firmware update (like the S-log before it), or the proprietary 4K recorder that Sony releases for this function will cost you some additional money that will probably put it in a price range closer to the Scarlet.  Still, a 3G SDi out means that we can hopefully still employ some of that 4K sensor’s power while we are waiting on the firmware upgrade, however the specs for this output when recording 1080p are not clear cut in the press release.  It seems that the camera’s codec is still AVCHD, so that means 8-bit, 4:2:0 compression when recording internally – but with a 4K sensor it stands to reason that we might be able to get a 10-bit, 4:2:2 output – or maybe even 4:4:4?  Very interesting.

Pixel peeping aside, the camera also boasts another feature that is incredibly attractive – frame rates of up to 240fps.  That’s 10x slow motion.  Granted, the FS700 can only shoot this frame rate for bursts of 8 seconds – but if played back at 24p – that is almost a minute and a half of footage.  The camera can also shoot 120 fps for bursts of 16 seconds, and up to 960 fps at lower resolutions (Again, I can hear those action-sports shooters drooling).  The camera is slated to release in June of this year, but there is no release date for the 4K firmware update.  If you would like to read more about the Sony FS700 – check out the press release here.

Looking forward to checking out both of these cameras in Vegas in a couple weeks, and I wonder if there will be any more cameras announced there to surprise us.  I know that I am personally hoping to get a glimpse at the Cine DSLR that Canon announced back in November, and maybe even Panasonic will have something new to show.  

I’ll be at the Canon, Adobe, G-tech & Vitech booths at NAB  – see times below – see you all there!

Adobe – April 16, 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. / April 17, 12:30 p.m. both at NAB Booth Theater

Canon – April 17, 10 a.m. main stage,  & Portfolio reviews at 11 a.m. (North Hall N110)  / April 18, 10 a.m main stage

Vitech April 16, 12:30 p.m. / April 17, 2 p.m. Panel w/ Philip Bloom and Tom Guillmette  – both at Vitech booth (O’Connor/ Manfrotto/ Lite Panels etc.)

G-Tech April 16, 3:30 p.m. / April 17, 4 p.m. both at G-Tech booth