Panasonic's smallest Varicam, the EVA1, has been a tantalising prospect since it was announced in June. Now we have the details, it just keeps getting better.
Panasonic’s new 5.7K mid range camera was revealed to the world at Cinegear in Hollywood just a few months ago.
When we saw it, on a picnic table in the sunshine, it looked like the real deal, and it wasn’t at all obvious that this was a pre-production model mostly made out of wood.
Obviously this isn’t the most substance for a working cinema camera and so it won’t be a surprise that when the camera ships it will be made of a more conventional material.
At that time, we were short on specifics. Now we have them.
Here, briefly, are the headlines.
We have it in Euros, which these days are equivalent to around US$1.18. The price for the body alone will be €7,290. Considering the camera’s capabilities, we would say that at the very least that’s competitive.
The exact pixel size of the sensor will be 5720 x 3016. That gives a total pixel count of 17.25 million. Significantly, that’s around twice the 8.8 million needed for 4K DCI.
Internally, the highest recordable resolution is 4K DCI, but all output resolutions - 4K DCI, 4K UHD, 2K, 1080p and 720p will be downsampled from the full pixel array.
Panasonic says “the increased colour information results in a finer, more accurate finished image”.
Dual native ISO
The EVA1 inherits this capability from the bigger, more expensive Varicams. And it’s a game-changer. It is exactly as claimed: two completely different native ISOs, one at 800 and one at 2,500. The other Varicams achieve a higher iso of 5000, but don’t think that 2,500 will be significantly less useful because it won’t be.
The prospect of virtually noise-free shooting at ISO 2,500 will be extremely tempting and will radically change the basic needs around lighting on set and the ability to shoot outdoors in low light conditions.
Panasonic explains: "The camera can switch from a standard sensitivity to a high sensitivity with almost no increase in noise or other artefacts”.
This is now stated as 14 stops: ideal for HDR acquisition. In order to deliver this dynamic range the EVA1 has full V-Log/V-Gamut, and will deliver a full BT.2020 colour space.
Lenses, ND and stabilisation
The lens mount is native EF. This will allow users to choose form a very wide range of cinema-style and still lenses. In body Electronic Image Stabilisation will help with handheld shots and we wonder if it makes use of the high pixel count from the sensor.
There’s an integrated ND filter system with 2, 6 and 6 stops of range. It’s also possible to move the IR filter out of the optical path - which opens up some interesting possibilities for surreal IR type images.
The ND filter and the IR filter are operated electronically and can be remote controlled from smartphones and tablets via an EVA1 remote app.
Recording is to low-cost SD cards. There are two slots and it’s possible to record to both simultaneously or sequentially for continuous recording.
Compression and codecs
The headline feature with the EVA1 is 10 bit recording in 4:2:2 - up to and including 4K DCI. A future update will enable i-Frame only (intra frame) compression. Initial bitrates range from 8Mbit/s to 150 Mbit/s. Future firmware will increase this to 400 Bit/s. There is no indication that raw recording will be anything other than via an external recorder. Codecs are AVCHD for 720p and 1080p, and .mov for 1080p and above. Note that SDXC cards are needed for .mov recording.
High speed recording
For high-speed capture, the EVA1 will have up to 59.94fps/50fps for 4K/UHD, up to 120fps/100fps for 2K/Full HD, or 240fps/200fps (cropped area).
This is exciting news about a really important camera. Of course the proof is in the pictures and we don’t have those yet but we will have a camera as soon as it is physically possible.
There is a tangible sense of new ground being broken with the EVA1. Panasonic is in a good place now with its 4K camera range. And customers are in a good place too. It really makes you wonder what could possibly come next.