RAMBLES: New Cameras 2014

With NAB2014 happening, all these new cameras are being announced and I really want to buy one of these nifty new cameras.  Of course, there are a ton of things to consider before purchasing and I’ll be going over a few of the cameras that I’m considering, as well as some of the more expensive cameras that I can’t afford yet.

AJA CION

This is the camera I really want.  Without going into further details – it shoots 4k at a bunch of different ProRes codecs like 4444, 422, and proxy.  It has an APS-C 4k CMOS sensor, and every single port on it is universal, as in nothing is proprietary.  The only thing that makes me hesitant about instantly purchasing this camera is that it’s probably close to $12k USD for a fully functional kit (for me) – The price for the AJA SSD cards are approximately $695/$1295 for 256gb/512gb, I’m not sure about the price for the card reader.  On the plus side, I have most of the stuff I would need, like the monitors and camera support, minus the PL lenses…   Another thing to consider is that you CAN shoot RAW with the 3G-SDI out, but you’ll need a raw recorder like the new ATMOS SHOGUN – so that’s another expense, but you’ll be able to shoot up to 120fps if you shoot 4K raw.  You can check more info on the Cion Brochure.

BLACK MAGIC URSA

The BM-URSA comes with EF mount, which is awesome.  I’m not a big fan of the on-board monitor it supplies, but it does kind of make it almost ready to shoot when you get it.  The ability to use a battery back on this is also a big bonus compared to the previous BM cameras.  It also actually looks like a camera.  This is probably the best option for your wallet in terms of up front costs, but it will desolate your wallet for post – shooting at 4K DNG raw or even ProRes at 800+mbps will eat through your expensive CFast2.0 cards (which I’ve been informed is more expensive than the AJA SSD cards.  I’d need to buy at least 4x256gb cards to maintain a safe shoot day.  Nevertheless, it’s still something worth considering.  It has controls on both sides of the camera so the operator or your assist can use it freely.  This also has no HDMI ports, but instead 1xHD-SDI port and 1xSDI port (don’t know if that’s only standard def or not).  The EF mount is going for just under $6000 USD.  A good price for what this camera does.  CFast2.0 card cost to be determined.  More information at the BMD URSA site.

Kinefinity: KineMAX 6K & KineMINI 4K

This is a new Chinese camera to be released soon.  The respective cameras shoot 6K and 4K cineform or DNG raw.  It shoots up to 100fps in CinemaDNG raw at 1080p and shoot up to 6K cineform raw at 23.97 all the way up to 30fps.  It takes regular SSD cards that you can buy from anywhere which is a huge bonus and records approximately 16 minutes of footage at 6K cineform raw on a 128gb card – which is some massive files – but it does boast 14 stops of dynamic range!  It appears to have 2x SDI and 1x HDMI, but I could be wrong.  It supports either a PL, EF, Nikon or B4 mount, and that opens up many options for affordable great quality lenses with the B4 mount.  There’s no price point for it now, but I’d imagine it’s the cheapest camera to shoot 6K coming out.  It’s design looks similar to the Arri Alexa, but the functionality remains unknown.

As for the 4K KineMINI; it shoots 720p @ 100fps cineform raw and can shoot up to 34 minutes on a 128gb card at 24fps at 4K cineform raw.  It has 2x HDMI ports with no SDI ports.  Boasts 13 stops of dynamic range and it looks similar to a RED Epic or Scarlet.

There are videos of these cameras in use on vimeo and around the web, and it’s quite impressive.  Definitely something to consider.  The only reason why I would not want to get one is due to the lack of support they might have here in Canada, whereas the AJA Cion or Ursa will probably have much more support.  More info at the Kinefinity website.

Panasonic GH4

I’m sure everyone’s been drooling over the specs of this camera, and to be honest I was really considering this too.    For the price point of only $1700USD, it’s such a great deal for what it does.  The reason why I’m hesitant to get this is because it’s micro4/3 sensor and I’d have to buy a m43->EF speedboost to utilize my lenses and it doesn’t shoot RAW… yet.  I’m sure one day a hack will come out for it to shoot Raw and I’ll shoot myself for not getting it sooner.  It shoots up to 4K h.264 at 100mbps.  The attachement at the bottom is another $2000USD, and this is what really makes it a cinema camera.  It allows for 2x HD-SDI ports, HDMI out, timecode and XLR ports for mics, as well as a 4pin XLR for power.  The full kit together is selling for $3300USD at B&H.  I’d imagine the speedboost would cost about $600, so close to $4000USD for pretty great kit.  Granted the KineMini 4K might be around the same price… if only it shot ProRes.

Arri Amira 

I’m not going to consider buying this, mostly because I don’t have the capital to purchase this amazing camera yet.  But it’s worth noting while I talk about all these new cameras.  This camera has been released already.  It only shoots 2k Arri raw and ProRes, but don’t let that deceive you, it’s an amazing camera – it shoots up to 200fps and it provides great codecs; Rec709 to name one.  The only problem is that it costs $40,000 USD for the base model.  It records to CFast2.0 cards, just like the Ursa.
I’ll say no more about this awesome camera, but I’ll share this video that Arri released.

Final Thoughts

I can’t speak much for any of these cameras before actually using them.  Personaly, I would consider the Kinefinity cameras last, because there would be the least support for them – even though they have great images and great prices.  For a good price point, the Ursa seems to be the best option if you’re looking for a new camera.  It shoots 4K raw as well as ProRes.  However, I recently hacked my 5D3 to shoot 3.5K DNG raw and spent $500 on new CF media to support the high resolution (3x128GB Komputerbay 1050x CF cards).  This might sway me to not purchase any camera in the near future, but knowing me, I‘ll want to get a new camera within a few years.

This digital age of cameras are becoming more and more affordable.  Yes, $6000 is a lot of money, but if you’re to compare it to how much cameras used to cost – it’s about a 80% discount.  My wallet knows that buying a camera is not the way to go – because it will become obsolete within 2-5 years and getting people to hire you or rent your gear isn’t as easy as you think.  Buying lenses on the other hand, will last you a lifetime.

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About thedavelam.com

I'm Cinematographer in Toronto, Canada - just trying to learn as much as I can and share it all. Also the owner of Spectacle Media Inc.
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