Panasonic got out ahead of the NAB camera crush with the announcement this week of the AG-CX350, a new 4K UHD handheld camcorder offering 10-bit 60p capture to dual SD memory card slots at a sub-$4,000 MSRP. The company is aiming to hit a broad cross-section of the market including live streamers, run-and-gun shooters, and both documentary and ENG applications.
The CX350 has a newly designed one-inch sensor rated by Panasonic at F12 at 60Hz (and F13 at 50Hz). The integrated 20x zoom lens covers a 35mm-equivalent angle of view, from 24.5mm to 490mm, and has three manual rings for controlling focus, iris and zoom. And the CX350 is lightweight — the body itself weighs 4.2 pounds — and has five-axis optical and electronic stabilization, which should come in handy, especially at the long end of that zoom range. It uses Panasonic’s Intelligent AF auto-focus system for accurate tracking and high-speed focusing.
Internal recording of 10-bit 4:2:2 .mov files to SD cards is supported at up to 29.98p/25p for UHD (3840 x 2160) and up to 59.97p/50p in full HD (1920 x 1080) in both all-intraframe (400 Mbps) and long-GOP (150 Mbps) codecs. If you want to record UHD at 59.97p/50p, Panasonic has you covered with a 10-bit HEVC 4:2:0 recording option — but there is a caveat. The more efficient HEVC codec also requires more powerful hardware for playback. Panasonic reckons a seventh-generation or later Intel Core i7 processor will enable native decoding and playback on a PC workstation.
Also supported: AVCHD recording (8–25 Mbps selectable modes) and, after a future firmware update, MXF P2 file recording via AVC-Intra or AVC-LongG to microP2 cards. All image modes are scaled, not cropped, from the sensor’s 15 megapixel raster, Panasonic said.
Variable frame rates range from 1 to 60fps in UHD mode, while HD recording can range all the way up to 120fps, Panasonic said.
In addition to all those recording options, Panasonic has made the CX350 exceptionally streamer-friendly, with RTMP streaming built in and support for NDI HX connectivity to an IP network can be licensed from NewTek for $299. That allows the CX350 to be used over IP with a live production switcher, or remote-controlled via Panasonic’s CX ROP app for iOS 9 (or later) and Android (5.0 or later) tablets, which can talk to up to eight cameras on a production. However, image output in NDI HX mode is limited to full HD.
The LCD monitor has a 3:2 aspect ratio, leaving extra space at top and bottom for timecode and camera status displays, and touch focus and menu setting capabilities. The viewfinder is a color OLED.
The CX350 does not support V-Log, but it does have eight different gamma modes, including HLG (HDR). A 16-axis color-correction system allows individual color tones to be dialed in for camera matching, and various other picture adjustments are available, with space for six preset scene files.
The AG-CX350 is expected to ship in late February at a suggested list price of $3,995.