A look at eight new video cameras that serve a wide range of filmmakers, from those who want to jump into live streaming and those ready for creating cinematic effects.
Vision Research Phantom Veo 340
While glorious slow-motion video is accessible via more and more cameras these days (not to mention smartphones), few companies can offer the time-warping motion slowing of the Phantom line of cameras. The compact new VEO 340 can rip away at 800 fps when filming at 2560 x 1600 for up to 15 seconds at a clip. Drop to full HD resolution and you’ll blaze away at 1,400 fps or at 3,100 fps at 720p resolution. Still not enough? The VEO 340 can hit 60,000 fps for 256 x 64 resolution video and an astounding 300,000 fps for 128 x 4 resolution files (which may be unusable for anything other than science, but still…). The camera employs a 12-bit, 4-megapixel CMOS sensor with a base color ISO of 1,250 and monochrome ISO of 6400. It has a Nikon F lens mount and records to CFast cards. The camera supports multiple file formats including Cine RAW, H.264 and ProRes.
PRICE: starts at $50,000
RED Scarlet W
RED is known for pushing the technological envelope with high-resolution sensors for cinematographers who need the highest quality obtainable. The company’s cameras hit 6K resolution while most cameras were happily recording in HD. With its new 5K Scarlet W, RED didn’t skimp on the pixels but didn’t go overboard either. Instead, they’ve created an entry-level-ish camera system to complement its heavy hitters.
At the heart of the camera is the 13.8-megapixel Dragon CMOS sensor that’s found on both the RED Weapon and RED Raven. The sensor delivers a whopping 16.5 stops of dynamic range. Armed with the W, you can record 5K video at up to 60 frames per second, 4K video at 150 fps or 2K at 300 fps. The W can simultaneously record Apple ProRes 422 and REDCODE RAW format video, though ProRes recording is only available for 2K footage up to 60 fps. It features in-camera 3D LUTs and has an integrated two-channel stereo mic. For output, you’ll find 3G-SDI and HDMI. Like all RED cameras, the Scarlet W has a modular design that lets you swap lens mounts, monitors, handles and more. The Scarlet is upgradeable to the RED Weapon and is compatible with the Weapon’s accessories, so you can upgrade easily. The camera can ship with one of three optical low-pass filter options including standard, skin-tone highlight and low light optimized to perfect your look.
PRICE: $9,950 (body-only); $14,500 (Base I/O V-Lock package)
The XC15 is Canon’s hybrid camera, blending cinema-friendly features with a DSLR-friendly build. The XC15 features a 1-inch CMOS sensor with up to 12 stops of dynamic range when shooting in the Canon Log profile. The camera records 4K video (8-bit, 422) at up to 30p using Canon’s XF-AVC codec. It can also record full HD video at up to 60p and snap 12-megapixel still images. 4K footage can be stored internally to a CFast 2.0 card. There’s also an SD card slot which can store HD video and still images.
Unlike its predecessor, Canon has given the XC15 a number of Look modes to better match the XC15’s color and tone to the look achieved by the company’s EOS Cinema cameras. There’s also a new waveform monitor so you can keep an eye on video signals.
The XC15 has a fixed 10x optical zoom lens (27-273mm, f/2.8-5.6) and is bundled with the MA-400 microphone adapter which slides into the XC15’s cold shoe mount and has two XLR inputs for adding external audio sources. You’ll also find Wi-Fi for wireless remote control and image preview.
Blackmagic Design URSA Mini
Since we last covered the URSA Mini, Blackmagic has rolled out an entirely new operating system for the camera that overhauls the user interface and adds multiple new features. The operating system pares back the number of menus and submenus that you have to scroll through to get at your desired setting. The updated OS adds custom white balance and white balance presets, plus tint control settings. Shutter angle selection is also easier to enter, thanks to an on-screen keyboard and the addition of prompts to help users find a flicker-free angle. The camera’s metadata entry page has also been updated with predictive entry suggestions and a pre-loaded dictionary of commonly used terms to minimize hunting and pecking. URSA Mini owners will also be able to import and save 3D LUTs and apply them to the LCD, front or main SDI outputs independently. Camera settings can also be saved as presets and camera function keys can be reprogrammed into shortcuts. The new OS is available as a free upgrade to current URSA Mini customers and ships as the standard OS for any new buyer.
PRICE: $2,995 (4K sensor, EF mount); $4,995 (4.6K sensor, EF mount)
With the rise of personal broadcasting on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, the GM660 gives you live-streaming capability in a more functional package. GY-HM660’s built-in video-over-IP technology delivers high-quality streaming with a choice of resolutions, bit rates and formats. There’s also technology to decrease errors during a live stream, such as adaptive bit rate streaming, which adjusts the bit rate of your video dynamically to accommodate changing bandwidth conditions. The HM660 will require an optional Wi-Fi adapter or 3G/4G USB adapter to go online. The camera uses three 1/3-inch, 12-bit CMOS image sensors to record 1080p video at up to 60p. There’s a 3.5-inch display and a 1.22-megapixel, 0.45-inch color viewfinder to compose your scene. Optically, there’s an integrated 23x optical zoom lens (29-667mm, 35mm equivalent). The lens has three ND filters as well as manual rings for zoom, focus and iris control. Footage is recorded to a pair of SD card slots that support relay or simultaneous recording. During a live stream, you can simultaneously save HD video to one card for posterity’s sake. You can get a head start on the action using the camera’s pre-record function, which caches up to 15 seconds of video before you hit record. The HM660 features built-in GPS and a pair of XLR inputs.
Kinefinity doesn’t have the name recognition in the U.S. of Canon or Blackmagic, but they’re hoping to change that by promising a cinema camera at DSLR prices. The Terra is perhaps closest in spirit to a RED in the sense that the boxy camera can be easily outfitted with extra, largely proprietary modules (monitors, recorders, etc.) as your filmmaking needs evolve. The Terra has a Super 35mm-sized sensor available in either 5K or 6K resolution. When using the 5K sensor, the camera is capable of frame rates up to 60 fps with ProRes footage stored to Kinefinity’s SSD memory. 4K frame rates top off at 100 fps while 2K footage can be recorded up to 200 fps. The 5K model has a dynamic range of 15 stops when in rolling shutter mode or 13 stops if you switch to a global shutter. If you opt for the 6K sensor version of the Terra you’ll get up to 25 fps at 6K and 4K recording at 100 fps with slightly faster 2K recording at 225 fps.
The 6K version offers 16 stops of dynamic range when shooting at 3K and 14 stops for all its other resolutions. Base ISO for both models is 800. You’ll have the option to record in Kinefinity’s KineRAW, a 12-bit RAW format, or a 10-bit ProRes 422 file. You’ll have your choice of a Canon EF mount body or a KineMOUNT which is a variant of a PL mount that accepts PL mount and Nikon F mount adapters. An optional KineBACK module (about $1,110) adds extra ports like XLR audio, SDI and V-lock batteries.
PRICE: $5,400 (6K); $4,600 (5K)
For cinematic 4K filmmakers, Sony’s PXW-Z150 delivers a wealth of sophisticated controls in a camcorder-like form. It starts with a 1-inch stacked, backside illuminated CMOS sensor with full pixel readout that supports 4K and high frame rate HD video recording. The stacked design places a high-speed signal processing circuit around the image sensor, preserving pixel size while speeding the data readout. 4K video is recorded at 3840 x 2160 at up to 30p while full HD can be captured at up to 120p.
Footage is saved to a pair of SD cards. There’s a built-in 12x optical zoom lens (29-348mm, 35mm equivalent) plus a Clear Image Zoom feature that can extend your reach to 18x during 4K filming and 24x when shooting HD. There’s a high-contrast, 0.39-inch OLED viewfinder and a 3.5-inch display for composing your work. A built-in, four stop ND filter helps you battle bright sun while three manual lens rings let you manually dial in iris, zoom and focus. There’s Wi-Fi to support live streaming, remote control or wireless FTP. On the audio front, the Z150 offers a pair of XLR inputs, a headphone jack and a mic input plus a built-in stereo mic. Outputs include 3G-SDI, HDMI, Micro USB and composite.
This HD video camera is packed with a 20x optical zoom (29.5-612mm equivalent, f/1.8-3.6) lens that taps a 5-axis hybrid image stabilization system to keep blur at bay. It features a 1/3-inch backside illuminated sensor for improved low-light performance. There’s also an integrated LED light capable of 300 lux of illumination at 3.3 feet and it ships with a color conversion filter and a diffusion filter included to adjust the color temperature depending on ambient conditions. High-quality audio recording is available via two-channel XLR audio inputs with phantom power. There are a pair of SD card slots that support either simultaneous or relay recording with hot-swapping. The AG-AC30 records Full HD/60p video in both the MPEG-4 and AVCHD codecs. Manual mavens will appreciate the camera’s three manual rings around the lens to adjust iris, zoom and focus. The 0.24-inch EVF can be tilted up, while a 3-inch touch screen display can be pulled from the top handle and swiveled 270 degrees.