As NAB Show 2015 quickly approaches, we survey the buzz around rumored announcements from Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Blackmagic Design.
It's nearly that time – the time when film professionals and equipment makers converge on Las Vegas to showcase and celebrate the latest device offerings and innovations for our industry. Yes, I'm talking about NAB Show 2015, which (at the time of this writing) is only six weeks away.
It'll be here before you know it and, when the dust settles, we'll finally know if all the rumors and hype around suggested camera announcements are true or, at least, how true. But it's always fun to speculate and rumors, if nothing else, provide flashpoints for discussion. With that in mind, let's explore some of the hottest NAB Show rumors as questions, since certainty for unreleased products is hard to come by.
1. Will Canon unveil a 4K shooting C300 Mark II?
The original C300 has been an able performer in Canon's Cinema EOS line since its release back in 2011, but with the rapid technological advancements exhibited by competitors' products, the HD shooter is showing its age. This was most apparent in a recent video by our friend Andrew Reid of EOSHD, in which the Samsung NX1 compared very favorably with the C300:
The advance word of a C300 successor, named the C300 Mark II by various rumor sites, makes sense given the company's actions thus far in 2015. The release of the 5DS camera, which featured many advancements for still photographers yet actually rolled back some features for video capture, highlights what is likely Canon's strategy: create a clear distinction between its still cameras and its Cinema EOS products. The rumored 4K shooting C300 Mark II would seem to fit that strategy and could be competitively priced against the Sony FS7, which retails for $7999.
2. Is Panasonic prepping an AF100/101 successor?
There is word of a successor to the Panasonic AF100/101 that, like most of Panasonic's releases of late, will feature 4K recording. The original AF100 itself was something of a departure when it was first released in 2010. Previously, at that price range, the company featured fixed lens prosumer shooters, like the HD shooting HVX200 and the DVX100, which recorded SD video to MiniDV and touted 24P recording, giving it an advantage over the Sony PD150/PD170 and Canon XL1s of the era. The AF100, however, debuted as an interchangeable lens camera (ILC), most likely designed in response to the DSLR revolution and to satisfy the growing legions of low-budget filmmakers who prefer more lens options.
For those who prefer a fixed lens 4K shooter in a compact ENG form factor, Panasonic dropped the HC-X1000 in September of last year, which captured 4K internally at up to 60fps. But those Panasonic fans that want the ability to swap lenses will have to wait until April's NAB Show for the rumored AF100 successor, if it does indeed arrive.
3. What cameras will Sony release with 4K internal recording?
There have been internet grumblings of a 4K shooting A7000 sporting a new sensor and featuring 4K internal recording and weather sealing, priced somewhat unbelievably at $699. There are even less substantiated rumors of a Sony A7S Mark II that will also capture 4K internally, meaning no more need to output to the Atomos Shogun to get video at 4K resolution. I'm very skeptical of the 4K shooting A7000 with the rumored specs, as I would be surprised that Sony was able to undercut Samsung's recent NX500, which is a similar 4K shooting compact ILC shooter priced at $800 without weather sealing, but I suppose anything is possible. If I were to guess, the Sony A7S Mark II rumors have that certain truthy quality, as most of the camera's direct competition for video recording can capture some variant of 4K internally to cards. I'm a little suspect on the timing, however, as Sony may want to milk the Sony A7S a little longer, as its need for an external recorder for 4K is somewhat mitigated by the camera's stellar low light performance and dynamic range.
4. What's Blackmagic Design up to?
Blackmagic Design does a wonderful job communicating its products on release and company news, but as was the case in the run-up to 2014's NAB Show, the company is equally adept at keeping leaks to a minimum. Yet, we can look at past history and conclude that Blackmagic prefers to use NAB as its primary showcase event for its upcoming products. I won't speculate as to what those new products may be, but for those interested in BMD cameras, or if you just want to play armchair prognosticator, give us your opinions, predictions and wished-for specs in the comments.
5. What will come out of left field?
Blackmagic Design is a great segue for our final question, as it was Blackmagic that played the role of NAB Show surprise upstart with its original 2.5K shooting Cinema Camera in 2012. Last year, it was I/O device and accessories maker AJA's turn to play the spoiler with the introduction of its CION Camera, a beautiful piece of kit – an ergonomically designed shoulder shooter with 4K recording up to 120 fps retailing at the relatively low price of $8995.
These left field entrants into the video camera game were the talk of their respective NAB Shows. Will we see another brand surprise us and put pressure on the big boys? It's hard to say, but the ever-increasing filed of 4K shooters currently available means that any company that wants to make a big splash likely needs some combination of pro features and high resolution capture (4K and above) at an previously unheard-of price point. The stiff competition from traditional powers Canon, Sony, JVC and Panasonic, along with the brash entries of Blackmagic and AJA, not to mention electronic giant Samsung's recent foray into 4K cameras, means any newcomer would really need to announce something amazing to garner any attention.
Of course, all of these rumors and speculation should be chased with a healthy swig of skepticism. But that just means we'll be even more surprised if that 'something amazing' does arrive.
For more thoughts on the upcoming show, check out a NAB 2015 preview penned by our Editor-in-Chief, David Shapton.