21 Feb 2017

Phantom Flex4K adds global shutter to high speed options

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The new Phantom Flex4K-GS: the white body helps dissipate heat. The new Phantom Flex4K-GS: the white body helps dissipate heat. Vision Research

Purveyors of all things fast and awesome, Vision Research, has added a global shutter to its flagship Phantom Flex4K high speed camera in an all-new model, the Phantom Flex4K-GS.

The global shutter combines with a 4K, 9.4 megapixel 35mm sensor to capture sharp, high-detail footage at speeds from 15 frames per second up to a whopping 1000fps at 4K. At 2K it hits nearly 2000 fps. This change reflects a need in many industries for high framerate, large frame imagery without the limitations of rolling shutter.

Just how does Global Shutter benefit the new camera?

Just to recap on the issue, bear in mind pixels don’t store any charge. All they really do is read how much light is hitting that exact pixel at that exact moment, before converting it into an electrical signal. A rolling shutter is always in motion, “rolling” through pixels from top to bottom, creating nasty motion artefacts along the way. This is particularly evident when shooting fast moving subjects. Global shutter, on the other hand, ensures that every pixel in every frame is exposed to light at the exact same time. This keeps subjects crisp and clear, even when they’re really hustling.

Of course, rolling shutter has it’s advantages as well. Typically, less noise and higher dynamic range. Fortunately, the Flex4K-GS can switch modes and shoot with either global or rolling shutter. The dynamic range difference is considerable in the two modes. When shooting in color, base ISO for global shutter is 640, compared with 320 for rolling shutter. If shooting without color will fit the bill, the Flex4K’s greyscale mode is far more light sensitive. Base ISO for global shutter in greyscale mode is 5000, and 2000 for rolling shutter.

The Phantom Flex4K GS, Vision Research is targeting the defense, scientific research and aerospace industries, and as such, the camera will serve a need filming things such as propellers, motors and other high speed rotating objects. Defense work also requires that the new Phantom is as durable as it is capable, and the GS fits the bill. The new camera has an effective temperature range of -20°C to 50°C, and the new white body helps minimize heat issues on sunny shoots. Of course, the flexibility, durability and insane performance of the GS will lend itself to the rest of us cinematographers as well.

The Flex4K-GS ships with either 64 or 128GB of RAM and works with CineMag IV high-speed storage magazines. Interestingly, the Flex4K-GS can store either uncompressed raw footage, or compressed Apple ProRes 422 clips. This means big things for videographers, as a 2TB CineMag IV can store “several hours” of ProRes footage.

The new Flex4K-GS ships in a Pelican case with a power supply, ethernet cable, Flex4K MiniBOB, innovative Phantom PCC software (for camera control, image manipulation, download/transcode - Windows), and a user manual.

There’s no word yet on pricing, but with the last Flex4K clocking in at right around $100K, it’s safe to say this one will live in the same ZIP code. Those of us not living in that particular ZIP code can look forward to this arriving at our local rental house in the near future.

Phantom Flex4K-GS Tech Specs

Full resolution 4096 x 2304
35mm 9.4-megapixel sensor
938 fps at 4096 x 2304 — 1000 fps at 4096 x 2160 — 1975 fps at 2048 x 1080
5 μs minimum exposure
Global shutter (GS) mode, switchable to rolling shutter (RS) mode for increased dynamic range and less image noise.
Internal mechanical shutter for black references
Compatible with Phantom CineMag IV recording media (1TB & 2TB)
Cine Raw and Apple ProRes 422 HQ recording formats at full resolution
Up to 128GB of internal memory
Video monitoring: 4x 3G HD-SDI outputs and one additional component viewfinder port.
Dual-SDI mode for simultaneous live video and playback
Optional Integrated battery mount supporting industry standard batteries
Lens mount: Interchangeable between Nikon F/G, Canon EF and PL mounts.
2x 12V and 2x 24V accessory outputs


Russel Fairley

Russ Fairley has an extensive background in production, with a warm place in his heart for editing and motion graphics. He founded After Effects Toronto, Canada's largest Adobe post production user group, is an Adobe Certified Expert in After Effects, and he runs a boutique production company. When he's not using the pen tool you can usually find him playing drums.

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