Panasonic has entered the realm of 4K digital cinema production with the announcement of their new 4K VariCam camera/recorder—the VariCam 35. First seen in mockups at NAB 2012, the VariCam 35 boasts an all-new super 35mm MOS image sensor and utilizes Panasonic’s AVC-ULTRA codecs for internal 4K, UHD, 2K, and HD recording. The camera is also capable of external 4K raw recording, provides 14 stops of dynamic range, and features a standard PL lens mount.
The VariCam 35 has a modular design; meaning the 4K sensor head (AU-V35C1) and the recording module (AU-VREC1) are separate units. This flexible system lets you attach the recorder directly to the sensor head, or expand the system using a connecting cable for use on jibs, cranes, or other remote camera setups. The recording module can also be used with Panasonic’s 2/3" camera module unit (AU-V23HS1) and new 2/3" 1080p camcorder, letting production houses conveniently switch between super 35mm and 2/3" setups, depending on the task at hand.
The newly developed super 35mm MOS image has native 4096x2160 resolution and is rated for 14 stops of dynamic range. The VariCam 35 uses efficient AVC-ULTRA codecs, providing a wide range of recording formats, including 4K and UHD in AVC-ULTRA 4K, 2K in AVC-Intra 100, and Full HD in AVC-Intra 200. The camera allows for simultaneous recording of 4K/UHD, 2K/HD reference output, and low bit-rate proxy files (from 6 to 1.5Mbps) for on-set color grading, monitoring, and online streaming workflows.
The VariCam 35 is built for digital cinema and episodic television use and, as such, uses a standard PL lens mount for use with professional cinema lenses. It also provides an OLED viewfinder with optical zoom, 24-bit LPCM in-camera audio recording, and supports Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) workflows. The camera is also capable of real-time, high-frame-rate recording of up to 120 fps at full 4K resolution. For internal recording, four media card slots are available—two expressP2 slots and two microP2 slots. The new expressP2 cards are used for high-frame-rate and 4K recording and can hold up to 130 minutes of 4K/24p footage, while the microP2 slots are suitable for high bit-rate 2K or HD recording.
Professional interfaces include 3G/HD/SD-SDI connectors for 4K quad-link and dual-link 4K raw recording via an external recorder. There is also an HD-SDI output, which provides a down-converted signal for using with HD monitors, and two XLR inputs to record four channels of 24-bit, 48KHz audio. Adding to its unique design, the VariCam 35’s control panel is removable, giving operators easy access to settings and controls even when the camera is in a fixed, hard-to-reach position.