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Panasonic Previews Third-Gen HD VariCam at NAB

Also Shows New 31-Inch 4K LCD Monitor

While the buzz at NAB was 4K, Panasonic is going one more generation with its iconic VariCam. The third-generation VariCam records 1080p at up to 120fps and expands its array of recording codecs to include AVC-Intra Class100, AVC-Intra Class200, and 12-bit AVC-Intra Class 4:4:4. And the camera continues to use 2/3-inch MOS imagers, a conservative design decision in this era of large-sensor cameras, but one that recognizes the mammoth inventory of 2/3-inch glass still in use among seasoned shooters.

Even so, the company is in no big hurry to bring its next VariCam to market. The company said the VariCam 3 will be available "early next year," and didn't specify pricing.

Click to see full-resolution image.

The new VariCam will offer Log recording for the first time alongside the familiar FilmRec, VideoRec, and Dynamic Range Stretch modes, and it will have both P2 and microP2 slots. 

And what about that VariCam 4K we saw on stage at the company's press conference last year? "The VariCam 4K is not canceled," Michael Bergeron, senior business development manager for media and entertainment told us at the show. "This is a project that is still ongoing …. [But] 3 comes before 4." 

There was some 4K action at the Panasonic booth. The company showed a new 31-inch 4K field production display, the BT-4LH310. The 10-bit IPS LCD is targeted for video-village use, dailies review, and 4K post workflow. It has HD-SDI, 3G-SDI and HDMI inputs and supports LUT upload. "We're just shy of being able to hit full DCI P3 space, and of course a spot-on Rec. 709, if you need that," Bergeron said. It's coming this fall at a price to be determined.

Also displayed was a 20-inch 4K ToughPad tablet that previously made an appearance at CES. "We see this as a tool for anybody who's trying to show their material," Bergeron told us. "If you're a creative freelancer who needs to sell your work, we think it's going to be very useful to you. But also if you're a studio or a broadcaster who wants to show your clients how things are going to be displayed without bringing a lot of AV equipment in, it's a good way to solve that." It's a slick, gorgeous piece of kit but, unless we missed it, there is no target date for availability.

Otherwise, Panasonic's big news this year revolved around its AVC Ultra family of codecs and the new AJ-PX5000G shoulder-mount camcorder, which were discussed in detail before the show. Read our coverage here.

For more information, visit Panasonic's website.


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  • Mike

    Panasonic has completely missed the boat and let down a lot of it’s former clients with their lack of innovation. No CMOS? No Super 35mm sensors? Not even an update to the 4/3 AF100? Sad.

  • BMG

    I think Panasonic has been paid off by the big boys to stay out of the game. When you look back, Panasonic was the leader in the whole independent filmmaker movement. They took the world by storm with the DVX100 and it’s 24p capabilities and updated it to the DVX100A and later the DVX100B and this is back when companies like Sony were only giving 24p options in $150,000 cameras.

    Then Panasonic led the revolution in tapeless recording when everyone was saying “You can’t do that! You have to have tapes as backup!” Not to mention options of various frame rates with the HVX200 but then they waited and waiter and finally decided to drop the AF100 with its smaller 4/3rds sensor and then they pumped the brakes as Red, Canon, Sony, etc. just rocketed past them, shooting off into space with major changes and ideas. Hell, RED sat around taking forever to drop the Scarlet and in the meanwhile, all that time, all those years, Panasonic did nada! Panasonic needs a new President of the company or whomever it is that makes their decisions because they’re digging their own grave over there. Unless they’re solely trying to concentrate on ENG and news companies and making flatscreen TV’s, point-and-shoot cameras, cordless phones and projectors (they do have one of the best projectors in the game), something is definitely wrong. Come on Panasonic, we love you guys… WTF are y’all doing?