11 Feb 2016

The powerful new Panasonic Varicam LT: Top-end features, mid-range price

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Panasonic has extended its cinema line up with the addition of the VariCam LT, a lightweight, compact camera, offering many of the features of the 4K VariCam 35.

The camera retains the ability to shoot in both 4K (4096 x 2160) and UHD (3840 x 2160) and features high sensitivity, low noise, wide dynamic range and a cinematic depth of field.

In order to maintain the VariCam ‘look’, the VariCam LT is equipped with a 35mm single-chip MOS sensor, originally developed for the VariCam 35 and has a similarly wide dynamic range. This ensures accurate image rendering over the entire image, from dark areas to highlights.

This sensor has two native ISO settings of 800 and 5000. Having two dedicated analog circuits means much higher sensitivity without increased noise. The ‘V-Gamut’ in the VariCam LT gives the camera a wider colour gamut than traditional film. The ‘V-Log’ gamma curve has evolved further to extend the dynamic range to 14+ stops.

In addition the VariCam LT offers the ability to change the mount from an EF mount (standard) to a PL mount (optional), increasing the range of usable lenses.

“This is the next generation of digital cinema innovation,” said Luc Bara, Technical Product Manager for Panasonic. “Even in dimly lit scenes, which are particularly important in film production, the VariCam LT provides low-noise images without any compromise to picture quality.

“We also see this being popular in the freelance market and with documentary camera operators, who require a true 4K camera that is designed for single operator field use.”

Capable of 60fps in 4K, the camera also has a new sensor centre crop mode, allowing 240fps for slow motion in both HD and 2K.

It is cost efficient in both operation and workflow due to in-camera colour grading, AVC-Ultra codec and multiple recording formats (4K/UHD/2K/HD proxy).

The VariCam LT supports both Panasonic and third party viewfinders and comes with a number of optional extras including shoulder mount, grip and PL mount. The camera body has an RRP of €18,000 and is available from March 2016.

David Shapton

David is the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications. He's been a professional columnist and author since 1998, when he started writing for the European Music Technology magazine Sound on Sound. David has worked with professional digital audio and video for the last 25 years.

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